WASHINGTON (February 4, 1998) -- Raising public awareness to the issue of religious persecution abroad must be a priority for the United States Government, one U.S. Catholic Conference official told the Religious Leaders' Summit on Religious Persecution meeting today in Washington.
Msgr. William Fay, an Associate General Secretary of the USCC, said that legislation pending in Congress, the "Freedom from Religious Persecution Act," is "a welcome and necessary effort to raise the consciousness of the American public about persecution of Christians and members of other religious communities in many countries."
"If our efforts are to succeed, we have to encourage civil dialogue with those who have raised concerns about this bill, and we have to reach out to a wide spectrum of groups and individuals," Msgr. Fay said. "We seek not only to pass a piece of legislation, but to move a nation."
Msgr. Fay represented Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of Newark, chairman of the Bishops' International Policy Committee, who could not be present.
In his remarks, Msgr. Fay noted that the USCC had offered general support for the legislation, "and for the wider campaign of which it is a part," since its introduction last year. He said that the Conference had worked with the bill's sponsors and others to improve the legislation, ultimately producing "a stronger bill that we believe will be more effective in helping those who are persecuted around the world."