WASHINGTON – A Catholic commissioner on the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom has been elected its chairman.
Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies and president of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast board of directors, began a one-year term as chairman July 1. He replaced Felice Gaer, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights.
The U.S. commission is an independent, bipartisan government agency charged with reviewing violations of religious freedom throughout the world and making appropriate policy recommendations to the president, secretary of state and Congress.
Leo was appointed to the commission in 2007 by President George W. Bush. As a commissioner, he has traveled to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Sudan and Vietnam to evaluate violations of religious freedom in those countries.
“I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners to ensure that this basic human right is recognized as an essential and fully integrated component of any successful U.S. foreign, economic or national security policy strategy,” Leo said.
Leo also serves on the board of Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Fla., and is a member of the Knights of Malta, a Catholic religious and chivalric order that emphasizes medical and relief work.