Rome Symposium Shines Light on Religious Persecution in Preparation for U.S. Ministerial

National Catholic Register | 062518

“It’s a dangerous time to be a person of faith,” said Ambassador Callista Gingrich. “We are at a critical moment. We can and must do more.”

Addressing a Rome symposium on Monday on “Defending International Religious Freedom: Partnership and Action,” the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See drew stressed that “repression, violence and discrimination are daily realities for millions of believers in every region of the world” and that in “many cases” their human rights “are limited or restricted entirely.”

The ambassador was one of several speakers to highlight both the plight of a great number of people of faith as well as underscore the importance of cooperation to secure religious freedom as a universal human right.

Other speakers included Salwa Khalaf Rasho, a 20-year-old Yazidi girl from Sinjar, Iraq, who testified to the magnitude of the persecution faced by Yazidis and other vulnerable communities in Iraq and Syria.

Salwa noted that the Yazidis have faced 74 genocidal campaigns in their history. In Iraq, she recalled how more than 6,000 women and girls of her community were kidnapped by ISIS, and subjected to “all types of sexual and physical abuse and violence.”

“I myself spent eight months in the grip of the Islamic State, and during this period I was subjected to unthinkable practices,” she said. “I finally had the chance to escape from their grip, but other women and girls did not.”