WASHINGTON (September 20, 1999) -- The Chairman of the Bishops' International Policy Committee today said that a new State Department report highlights that religious liberty is still a "distant dream" for many, a concern he hopes will become a greater element in U.S. foreign policy.
"The State Department's report highlights the sad fact the religious freedom that we Americans take for granted is only a distant dream for much of the world's population," said Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of Newark. "I very much hope that this report will fulfill its intended purpose of highlighting violations of religious freedom around the world and making these concerns a more integral part of the U.S. foreign policy agenda."
The State Department's new Office of International Religious Freedom, a body created under a 1998 law supported by the USCC, issued its first country report on September 10.
Archbishop McCarrick's statement offered several examples where the right to religious freedom is violated, including Christians, moderate Muslims, and animists in Sudan, and Catholics in East Timor, China, and Vietnam.
"Just two weeks ago I was part of a delegation of U.S. bishops ... that travelled to Vietnam," Archbishop McCarrick said. "There we found a growing and vibrant Church which enjoys greater freedom than before, yet many intolerable restrictions on normal church activities remain in place."
He said he hopes the increased attention on the issue "will advance the cause of religious freedom for believers of all faiths."
NOTE: The full text of Archbishop McCarrick's statement is attached.