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Priest to head United States religious freedom commission

WASHINGTON (SE): Father Thomas Reese is to become the first priest ever to fill the position of chairperson of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

A Jesuit, Father Reese was appointed by the president of the United States of America (US), Barack Obama, to a two-year term as a member of the commission in 2014 and re-appointed in 2016.

The commission is an independent, bipartisan body charged with monitoring and reviewing violations of religious freedom around the world.

The commission is responsible for the writing of reports that are then presented to the secretary of state, the congress and the president.

“I am honoured to serve as the commission’s chair and work with my fellow commissioners in support of freedom of religion or belief,” CNA reported Father Reese as saying in a statement on June 23.

“World events underscore the importance of this fundamental right: A key factor in many of the US’s foreign policy challenges, religious freedom is under serious and sustained attack across much of the globe,” he continued.

The commission was set up in 1998 under the International Religious Freedom Act. It names countries that are guilty of severe religious freedom violations, as well as holding public hearings and conducting fact-finding missions.

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