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The United States and the Holy See: Promoting Religious Freedom and Defending Human Dignity
September 30, 2020

“On the issues of human dignity and religious freedom, these issues that transcend everyday politics, on the enduring struggle of the individual’s right to believe and worship, we must – and I know we will – march together.”

 – U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, October 2, 2019

Secretary Pompeo will visit Vatican City and participate in a symposium, “Advancing and Defending International Religious Freedom through Diplomacy,” hosted by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See on September 30, 2020.  During his visit, the Secretary will meet with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Gallagher to discuss the many ways the United States and the Holy See work together to advance peace, freedom, and human dignity around the world.


  • The United States and the Holy See celebrated 35 years of formal diplomatic relations in 2019. Our partnership today remains as strong as ever, built on common values, mutual respect, and moral leadership.  We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Holy See to protect and promote human rights, advance religious freedom, combat human trafficking, and seek peaceful solutions to crises around the world.
  • The Holy See has formal diplomatic relations with 183 countries and moral influence with more than 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide, as well as with millions of non-Catholics. An important partner with a global presence, the Holy See can deliver messages and aid people in places other actors struggle to reach.
  • With U.S. support, Catholic faith-based organizations have provided basic healthcare and necessities to the most vulnerable, particularly during the COVID-19 emergency. Globally, some 5,000 Catholic hospitals and more than 16,000 church-based dispensaries are complementing and reinforcing the efforts of governments to provide healthcare to all, especially to the vulnerable.
  • Everyone deserves the right to worship freely without the threat of persecution and political interference. Upholding the right to religious freedom represents not just a moral necessity, but also a national-security imperative for the United States.  Governments that uphold religious freedom are safer, more prosperous, and secure.
  • The United States stands with the Holy See to encourage religious freedom and tolerance through interreligious dialogue. The United States looks forward to continued work with Pope Francis and the Vatican to advance interfaith dialogue and religious freedom.


  • The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See symposium, “Advancing and Defending International Religious Freedom through Diplomacy,” is an opportunity to highlight U.S. government support for persecuted religious minorities, particularly in China and the Middle East. It will also emphasize the many ways the United States collaborates with the Holy See and faith-based organizations, and it will reaffirm U.S. commitment to promoting and defending religious freedom everywhere.
  • The symposium follows the Secretary’s participation in the 2019 U.S. Embassy to the Holy See symposium, “Pathways to Achieving Human Dignity:  Partnering with Faith Based Organizations.”  That event highlighted the important work faith-based organizations do to promote religious freedom, combat human trafficking, and deliver humanitarian assistance around the world.