Pompeo champions religious freedom at the Vatican

Two men seated at table, shaking hands (© Andreas Solaro/Pool via AP Images)
U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo (right) with Archbishop Paul Gallagher at the Vatican symposium (© Andreas Solaro/Pool via AP Images)

In the face of worldwide religious persecution, countries of the world are coming together to protect religious freedom and human dignity. “This growing solidarity gives us hope of strength in numbers,” U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said at the Pathways to Achieving Human Dignity symposium at the Vatican on October 2.

Pompeo highlighted a few examples of violations of religious freedom around the world, including China’s repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and Burma’s mistreatment of Rohingya, as well as a multitude of globally occurring human rights violations and instances of extreme religious persecution.

The secretary of state also discussed the underlying causes contributing to such religious oppression.

“We must recognize the roots of religious repression,” he said. “Authoritarian regimes and autocrats will never accept a power higher than their own.”

Photo of Pompeo and others seated on dais under a cross, with Pompeo quote on religious freedom beside it (State Dept./Photo © Andreas Solano/Pool via AP Images)
(State Dept./Photo © Andreas Solano/Pool via AP Images)

Citing the urgency of attacks on human dignity and religious freedom, Pompeo noted that currently:

    • 80% of the world’s population lives in places where religious freedom is threatened or denied.
    • There are 71 million displaced refugees across the world.
    • 25 million people are caught in human trafficking situations.

The U.S. government remains dedicated to aiding countries that face such crises. Along with facilitating hostage exchanges, channeling millions of dollars of foreign aid to countries in need, and championing religious freedom, the U.S. continues to push back on authoritarian abuses.

“Protecting human dignity has long been essential to our foreign policy,” Pompeo said. “And in the Trump administration, you have the strongest advocates of religious freedom in the history of our country.”