22 June 2022, The Tablet

Biden nominates Stephen Schneck to religious freedom role

Biden nominates Stephen Schneck to religious freedom role

Stephen Schneck is seen on the campus of The Catholic University of America in Washington in this 2017 file photo.
CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

President Joseph Biden nominated noted Catholic intellectual and political activist Stephen Schneck to serve on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Schneck was a professor of politics at the Catholic University of America for many years. He also directed the school’s on-campus think tank, the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies.

More recently, he was executive director of the Franciscan Acton Network. “While I’m honored to be appointed to this important position by President Biden, I’m also daunted by the responsibilities that come with this office.” Schneck told The Tablet.

“USCIRF’s job is recommend action and policies to the President, his administration and Congress on behalf of all those around the globe who are victims of discrimination, persecution, and oppression because of their beliefs. I’m not there representing the Catholic Church and I’m not there as a political partisan. I’m there to encourage the government of the United States to act for victims whose freedom to practice what they believe has been denied or repressed.”

Jesuit Fr Thomas Reese, who served on USCIRF from 2014 until 2018, the last two years as chairman, applauded the appointment.

“USCIRF plays a special role in shining a light on violations of religious freedom around the world, where believers can be subjected to discrimination, persecution, imprisonment and even death,” Reese said. “I am not sure whether to call Steve an activist with the mind of a scholar or a scholar with the heart of an activist. Both as an intellectual and a prophet, he has what it takes to make an important contribution to USCIRF.”

Schneck’s appointment received bipartisan support as well. “Steve Schneck is a terrific choice to help in UCIRF’s vital work of protecting and promoting religious freedom around the world,” said Kim Daniels, who is co-director of Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life.

“He’s a thoughtful scholar and dedicated leader, and his deep knowledge of Catholic social thought will be a great asset to the Commission in its efforts to advance this core human right.” Daniels served as a special communications advisor to the US bishops’ conference previously, and also has advised Republican politicians on pro-life and religious liberty issues.

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