By Devin Watkins
The United States Department of State is hosting the first-ever international summit on the topic of religious freedom.
The event is slated for July 24-26 in Washington D.C., and will gather over 80 delegations, including more than 40 foreign ministers.
Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, spoke to Devin Watkins about the first “Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom”.
“When individuals are permitted to act and behave freely with respect to their faith, they have the capacity then for greatness,” Secretary Pompeo told Vatican News.
The mission of the ministerial, he said, “is to spread the word of the importance of religious freedom for every individual around the world.”
He said the State Department under President Donald Trump’s administration has made the issue “a true priority”.
“People of all faiths should have the right to worship as they please, or if they choose not to, they should be permitted to do that as well,” he said.
The role of faith leaders
Secretary Pompeo stressed that religious leaders, as well as governments, should press for religious freedom “for their particular faith and their beliefs”, as well as ensuring it for all faiths.
“So we think that the Catholic Church can play an important role in the mission that we’re attempting to achieve through gathering these folks in Washington in the days ahead,” he said.
Finally, Secretary Pompeo pointed out that investors and commercial actors see places with broad religious freedom as “more open and with less risk.”
“We see a deep connection between religious freedom as a fundamental human right and economic benefits that flow to countries that have this religious freedom,” he said. “We think it benefits American foreign policy to reinforce this.”