"World events underscore the importance of this fundamental right: A key factor in many of the United States' foreign policy challenges, religious freedom is under serious and sustained attack across much of the globe," he added.
"It's not just moral issues. It's also (the struggles) of families in poverty," he said. "How do you have a family life in a refugee camp or in the middle of a war? Or when parents have to leave their children behind to go to another country to earn money to feed them? These are the kind of things Pope Francis is concerned about."