US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Vatican City from October 2-3, where he met with Pope Francis, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Gallagher, to mark the 35th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations between the United States and the Holy See, and to discuss the many ways we work together to advance peace, freedom, and development around the world. The Secretary also participated in the joint U.S.-Holy See symposium, “Pathways to Achieving Human Dignity: Partnerships with Faith-Based Organizations,” which took place on October 2 in the Apostolic Palace. (See Secretary Pompeo’s speech here.)
This year marks 35 years of formal diplomatic relations between the United States and the Holy See. When President Reagan established the U.S. Embassy in 1984, he said it “would exist to the benefit of peace-loving people, everywhere.” Today we share a global partnership based on common values, mutual respect, and moral leadership.
The Holy See maintains formal diplomatic relations with 183 countries. Its influence extends to more than 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide and millions of non-Catholics as well. With a grassroots presence in almost every country in the world, the Holy See is a critical partner.
The symposium, co-hosted by the Holy See’s Secretariat of State and the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, is a direct result of the Secretary’s July 2019 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, which aimed to reaffirm international commitments to promote religious freedom for all and produce concrete outcomes that lead to durable, positive change. The Secretary announced the symposium during the Ministerial.
Through three high-level panel discussions, this symposium demonstrated how governments and other institutions can partner with faith-based organizations to advance and defend religious freedom, combat human trafficking, and provide humanitarian assistance.
In addition to the Secretary, U.S. Ambassadors-at-Large Sam Brownback and John Cotton Richmond delivered remarks at the symposium on U.S.-Holy See cooperation on religious freedom and trafficking-in-persons, respectively.
The symposium featured participation by representatives from prominent faith-based organizations, including the Community of Sant’Egidio, Aid to the Church in Need, the Adyan Foundation, the AVSI Foundation, Caritas Internationalis, and Talitha Kum. They were joined by senior U.S. and Holy See officials from across departments and agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of State’s Office of International Religious Freedom, and the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the Holy See’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
The Holy See – through the agencies of the wider Catholic Church – is one of the greatest humanitarian forces in the world. It maintains a vast network, second only to the International Committee of the Red Cross/Crescent.