Pope: human rights must be placed at the centre of all policies

Francis appeals "to those with institutional responsibilities" in his message to a conference held at the Gregorian university marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. When fundamental rights are violated "we are all called into question", especially Christians, he says.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis issued an appeal on Human Rights Day with "To place human rights at the centre of all policies, including those of development cooperation, even when this means going against the tide".

His message was sent to an international conference on ‘Human Rights in the Contemporary World: Achievements, Omissions, Negations’ that opened today at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

The meeting is being held to mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 25th Anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

In his statement, the pontiff notes that "In the year celebrating the important anniversary of these international legal instruments, an in-depth reflection on the bases and respect for human rights in the contemporary world seems appropriate, a reflection that I hope will be the harbinger of a renewed commitment to the defence of human dignity, with special attention for the most vulnerable of our communities.”

In light of the Declaration, the Holy Father says that "many forms of injustice persist today in the world, nurtured by reductive anthropological visions and an economic model based on profit, which does not hesitate to exploit, discard or even kill people.

“Whilst one part of humanity lives in opulence, another part sees its own dignity disowned, despised or trampled upon and its fundamental rights ignored or violated.” In view of this, "My thought go, among others, to the unborn children who are denied the right to come into the world; to those who do not have access to the essential means for a dignified life; to those who are excluded from adequate education; to those who are unjustly deprived of work or forced to work as slaves; to those who are held in inhuman conditions, who are subjected to torture or who are denied the opportunity to redeem themselves; to the victims of forced disappearances and their families.

"Likewise, my thoughts go to all those who live in a climate dominated by suspicion and contempt, which are subject to acts of intolerance, discrimination and violence because of their racial, ethnic, national or religious affiliation.

“Finally, I cannot forget how many people suffer multiple violations of their fundamental rights in the tragic context of armed conflicts, whilst unscrupulous merchants of death enrich themselves at the price of the blood of their brothers and sisters."

"In the face of such serious phenomena, we are all called into question. In fact, when fundamental rights are violated, or when some are favoured at the detriment of others, or when they are guaranteed only for certain groups, then serious injustices occur, which in turn fuel conflicts with heavy consequences both within and between individual nations.

“Everyone is therefore called to contribute with courage and determination, in their specific role, to show respect for the fundamental rights of every person, especially of those who are ‘invisible’, i.e. the many who are hungry and thirsty, who are naked, sick, foreign or detained (cf. Mt 25:35-36), who live on the margins of society or are discarded."

"This need for justice and solidarity has a special significance for us Christians, for the Gospel itself invites us to turn our gaze towards the weakest of our brothers and sisters, so that we may be compassionate (cf. Mt 14:14) and commit ourselves concretely to alleviate their suffering.”

Lastly, “I wish, on this occasion, to address a heartfelt appeal to those with institutional responsibilities, asking them to place human rights at the centre of all policies, including those of development cooperation, even when this means going against the tide."


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