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WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops support a rule by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that would guard against U.S. investments funding militias in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). In a May 3 letter to Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola of Tshumbe, president of the Congolese bishops, Bishop Pates expressed the solidarity of the U.S. bishops as the rule faces a legal challenge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
"Your tireless efforts, along with those of your brother bishops and the entire Church community, have long exemplified courageous leadership in the face of violent conflict," wrote Bishop Pates. "We send our ongoing prayers as innocent people in your country suffer and die at the hands of militias who control illegal mines, divide up your country and eliminate the rule of law."
Bishop Pates noted that the U.S. bishops offered official comments in support of the rule when the SEC first proposed it and continue to support it now. The rule is part of the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
"The rule is consistent with Catholic teaching on protection of human life and dignity," wrote Bishop Pates. "It takes into account the lived experience of the Church in your country and that of our colleagues at Catholic Relief Services and other development and relief agencies in the region. It also meets our concern of providing appropriate coverage of issuers and products, and insuring information submitted to the SEC is accurate, verifiable and easily available to investors and consumers."
Bishop Pates said the Congolese bishops have the "deepest respect" of the U.S. bishops for their efforts to stop the violence in their country, address its root causes and provide a sustainable resolution.
In May 2012, Bishop Djomo testified before a Congressional committee and urged the adoption of rigorous transparency rules. "The Church in the Congo trusts that the business community can and will join us to protect the life and human dignity of the Congolese people by conducting legal, transparent and accountable international commerce," he said. "We are confident that they do not want to be part of the misery that has plagued Eastern Congo for years."
More information on Bishop Djomo's testimony is available online: www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-082.cfm
Keywords: militias, conflict minerals, Wall Street reform, investors, SEC, Securities and Exchange Commission, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bishop Richard E. Pates, USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola, International Justice and Peace, Des Moines, Iowa, Congress, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
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