Parliamentarians respond to Pope on international religious freedom

As Pope Francis recently called for international action on religious freedom and condemned violence against Christians, a group of 21 parliamentarians from around the world have written to His Holiness encouraging him to assemble a gathering of religious leaders in support of freedom of religion or belief.

The International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief was launched in Oslo, Norway, on November 8. It is made up of Parliamentarians drawn from different regions, religions, and political parties, who have pledged to advance religious freedom as defined in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“We are very pleased by the Pope’s announcement, as our coalition of parliamentarians recently wrote him to apprise him of our work and suggest he convene a meeting of religious leaders to discuss freedom of religion or belief,” said Baroness Elizabeth Berrdige from the British House of Lords. “Our letter offers to join him in that important work. We would also urge Catholics around the world who want to take action could write to their MP asking for their government to take action on freedom of religion or belief.”

“The Pope was correct to call on people of good will to advance religious freedom, and he is uniquely positioned to convene religious leaders around the issue of religious freedom for all,” said Abid Q Raja, a member of the Norwegian parliament. “With efforts underway to increase governmental and parliamentary coordination on freedom of religion or belief, engaging religious leaders in this effort is also critical.”

The International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief wrote to Pope Francis on November 8. Last week, Pope Francis condemned violence facing Christians in several countries and called on leaders at the national and international level to respond, noting that the persecuted “have a right to find security and peace in their own countries while freely professing their faith”.

The letter in full