Promoting Dialogue on Religion and Human Rights: The Role of the OAS and the Holy See in the Americas
Rome, December 13, 2011
On Tuesday December 13 the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See and The U.S. Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States (OAS) hosted a panel discussion entitled “Promoting Dialogue on Religion and Human Rights: The Role of the OAS and the Holy See in the Americas.” The event was timed to coincide with the Papal Mass for Latin America on December 12, in which Pope Benedict XVI said the region's people must promote reconciliation and solidarity, do more to protect the environment and "strengthen efforts to overcome poverty, illiteracy and corruption and eradicate all forms of injustice, violence, criminality, citizens' insecurity, drug trafficking and extortion."
The panel was held at Istituto SS. Maria Bambina and was the culmination of two days of meetings between the U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS, Ambassador Carmen Lomellin, and Vatican and lay officials. Also on the panel were Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, the Holy See’s Undersecretary for Relations with States, Archbishop João Bráz de Aviz, Prefect for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Ambassador Jorge Skinner-Klee, Guatemalan Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez-Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and Ambassador Fernando F. Sánchez Campos, Costa Rican Embassy to the Holy See. The U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Miguel H. Diaz, moderated the panel.
The presenters discussed the positive role of the Catholic Church in the Americas and its long tradition of promoting human rights. They conveyed the importance of official mechanisms for cooperation such as the OAS, and the importance of recognizing the influence and moral grounding of the church in Latin America. Audience members, who came from lay organizations such as the Focolare movement and Sant’Egidio community, as well as religious orders and universities, shared their experience during the discussion period in humanitarian assistance in Latin American communities all over the continent, and the importance of bold action and strong cooperation to address issues such as juvenile violence in this area of the world.