Since 2016, Ján Figeľ, a Slovak politician and former European Commissioner, has served as the “Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the European Union” for the European Commission. It is a role he has fulfilled admirably by all accounts. Today, the International Organization for the Family (IOF) is joining with many other groups in calling for his re-appointment to the position with a new petition.
We urge you to reinstate Ján Figeľ in crucial religious freedom role
Your Excellency Ms. Ursula von der Leyen
President of the European Commission
Dear Madame President,
On May 6, 2016, the European Commission decided to create the role of “Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union,” and appointed Mr. Ján Figeľ, a Slovak politician and former European Commissioner, to the position. This was in response to a resolution of the European Parliament of February 2016 calling for the nomination of a Special Representative for Freedom of Religion and Belief (FoRB). Never was a decision more crucial.
This European presence on the international scene has become necessary especially in light of factors like militant Islamic fundamentalism and other elements that find religious minorities in some places, including Christians, particularly in need of protection.
Today the European Commission can certainly conclude that the experiment inaugurated with the appointment of Mr. Figeľ has been successful and that the final report of the Special Envoy, presented in November, shows perfectly the importance of the initiatives promoted so far, not only for the European Union, but also for the right to religious freedom worldwide.
Recently, many leaders and organizations confessing various faiths have requested a reconfirmation of Mr. Figeľ in his role. In our turn, we supporters and friends of the International Organization for the Family—a worldwide multi-denominational organization working in favor of the natural family, which, among other things, is the publisher of International Family News—likewise write here to ask you to confirm Mr. Figeľ in his role, enhanced with further legal competences, concrete autonomy and economic instruments.
At a time when the coronavirus pandemic afflicts all countries, prompting many governments to severely limit freedom of worship, which is part of the right to religious freedom expressly enshrined in so many national constitutions, your decision to reconfirm Mr. Ján Figeľ until 2024 would underline for all European citizens and all countries of the world the key importance that the value that the free exercise of religion everywhere in the world has for Europe.