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Members of the European Parliament Ask Assistant Secretary Sauerbrey to Withdraw from Conservative Meeting in Europe

April 17, 2007

The European Parliamentary Working Group on Separation of Religion and Politics has asked Ellen Sauerbrey, the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, to withdraw from a forthcoming meeting in Warsaw organized by the World Congress of Families.

The letter urges Assistant Secretary Sauerbrey to withdraw from the conference because her participation provides “an official, U.S. government stamp of approval to extremist and intolerant views held by some participants and attendees. These extremist and intolerant views include prejudiced attitudes toward foreigners, people from other religions, homosexuals, and the inclusive vision of what represents a family unit that has been developed by the United Nations and the European Union.”

The letter, available here, outlines the parliamentarians’ concerns about several individuals, including: Fr. Thomas Euteneuer of Human Life International, Steven W. Mosher of Population Research Institute, Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute and Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, as well as key sponsors including the Family Research Council and the Association for Christian Culture. The parliamentarians also voiced their concern about recent events in Poland, whose president Lech Kaczynski has made several homophobic statements and will give the opening address at the conference.

The Secretariat for the Working Group on Separation of Religion and Politics is provided by Catholics for a Free Choice. CFFC president Jon O’Brien said: “At a time when the U.S. is lecturing the world on extremism—both religious and political—it is scandalous that a senior administration official will address a meeting that smacks of the kind of fundamentalist intolerance that the Bush administration says is dangerous. While the Bush administration is obviously conservative, does it really want to be seen in Europe as giving a mark of approval to the homophobic, sexist and intolerant views that will be on display at this conference?”

The letter concludes: “In reviewing the agenda and speakers’ list for the conference, we fear that many of the speakers will be hostile to this inclusive vision of what represents a family in the 21st century. Many speakers have themselves or represent organizations that have expressed outright hostility to recognizing any family unit that does not include a married couple and their offspring. Their targets include unmarried heterosexual couples—even those in long-term, committed relationships, single parents and homosexual couples. Given the recent history of homophobic attacks in Poland, we are very concerned that some extremist elements may use the cover provided by the conference to cause violence against gay men and women, something which we are sure you do not condone.”

The signatories of the letter invited Assistant Secretary Sauerbrey to attend a meeting of the European Parliamentary Working Group on Separation of Religion and Politics to learn about E.U. policies concerning families, women’s rights, children’s rights and about the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.

To arrange an interview with Jon O’Brien, please contact Erin Smith at Catholics for a Free Choice.

To read the Letter to Ellen Sauerbrey click here.


The letter was signed by the following Members of the European Parliament:

Sophie in’t Veld
Chair, Working Group

Magda Kosane Kovacs
Karin Resetarits
Vice-Chairs, Working Group

Marie-Arlette Carlotti, France
Michael Cashman, United Kingdom
Richard Corbett, United Kingdom
Proinsias De Rossa, Ireland
Patrick Gaubert, France
Claire Gibault, France
Gisela Kallenbach, Germany
Jean Lambert, United Kingdom
Katalin Levai, Hungary
Eva Lichtenberger, Austria
Gérard Onesta, France
Eva-Britt Svensson, Sweden
Csaba Tabajdi, Hungary
Max Van den Berg, The Netherlands
Anne Van Lancker, Belgium
Gabi Zimmer, Germany

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