WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate should move to reauthorize the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which “plays a vital role in preserving human dignity and human rights around the globe,” according to the U.S. bishops’ chairman of International Justice and Peace.
In an October 27 letter, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, urged Senators to take action on H.R. 2867, which would reauthorize the commission before its November 18 expiration. The independent federal commission monitors the status of religious freedom around the world and reports on persecutions and human rights violations.
“Today the mission of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is more important than ever,” wrote Bishop Hubbard. “Abolition of this body would send an unintended message to the rest of the world. Oppressive groups may come to believe that the United States is not committed to the protection of religious liberty.”
Bishop Hubbard listed the violence against Coptic Christians in Egypt, the Christmas Eve bombings of churches in Nigeria and the October 2010 attack on worshipers at a Syrian Catholic Church in Baghdad as examples of the need for greater attention on religious freedom. He also cited Pope Benedict XVI’s World Day of Peace message, in which the pope called religious freedom the “path to peace,” noting that the free exercise of religion contributes to “the building of a just and peaceful social order.”
For the full text of Bishop Hubbard’s letter, go www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/2011-10-Letter-to-Senate-on-USCIRF.pdf
Keywords: Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, religious liberty, religious freedom, Iraq, Egypt, U.S. Senate, Baghdad, Coptic Christians, Nigeria, Syrian Catholic, terrorism, violence, human rights, Pope Benedict XVI, World Day of Peace
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