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US organises conference to lobby Vatican on religious freedom

The United States Embassy to the Holy See is behind a conference titled Religious Freedom: The Cornerstone of Human Dignity, which opens today at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University.

AsiaNews reports that the event will involve diplomats, Vatican officials, and representatives from the media, university and NGOs. It will focus on what John Paul II called in his first speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations - the "first freedom" and the "foundational human right," i.e. religious freedom.

Under the patronage of Jim Nicholson, US Ambassador to the Holy See, the conference is the last in a series marking the 20th anniversary of full diplomatic relations between the United States of America and the Holy See.

Earlier this year, the Embassy organised a conference on Genetically Modified foods at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that was criticised as an attempt to persuade the Vatican to give its blessing to US economic interests under the guise of what some consider spurious moral arguments.

Speakers at the religious freedom conference include Monsignor Giovanni Lajolo, Secretary of the Holy See for Relations with States. The US approach to promoting religious freedom will be detailed by John Hanford, US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

The study session will close with an overview of how the situation of religious freedom has improved in some areas of the world; main speakers will be Fr Bernardo Cervellera, editor of AsiaNews, Fr David-Maria Jaeger, from Rome's Pontifical Athenaeum Antonianum, and Fr Daniele A. Madigan, deputy dean of the Institute for the Study of Religion and Cultures at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

International conference on religious freedom ( 2/12/04)

United States Embassy to the Holy See | Religious Freedom: The Cornerstone of Human Dignity Conference
Address of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to the 50th General Assembly of the United Nations Organisation (5/10/95)
Gregorian University
Forum 18
Cardinal Kung Foundation

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U.S. Ambassador on Religious Freedom (Zenit 1/12/04)
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3 Dec 2004