Speaking to members of the Diplomatic Corps on Monday, Pope Francis devoted this New Year's address to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted 70 years ago.
The Pope told the dignitaries gathered that from a Christian perspective, there was a significant relationship between the Gospel message and the recognition of human rights in the spirit of those who drafted the document.
Human rights 70 years on
Quoting from St John XXIII’s 1963 encyclical Pacem in Terris, essentially the Church’s own declaration on Human Rights, the Holy Father noted that relations between nations, like all human relationships, “must likewise be harmonized in accordance with the dictates of truth, justice, willing cooperation, and freedom”.
The Pope commented that, “at a distance of seventy years, it was painful to see how many fundamental rights continue to be violated today.” Most notably, he said were the innocent children discarded even before they are born, the elderly, who are often cast aside, women who repeatedly suffer from violence and oppression, even within their own families and the victims of human trafficking.
Another important theme touched on during the Holy Father’s address was that of the family, telling those present that he considered it urgent, “that genuine policies be adopted to support the family, on which the future and the development of states depend.”
Refugees and migrants
Focusing on an issue close to his heart, that of migration, Pope Francis emphasized that the ability to leave one’s own country and to return there, was a fundamental human right. He also thanked countries such as Italy, who he said, had “shown an open and generous heart and offered positive examples of integration.”
Finally, the Holy Father recalled the importance of the right to employment, underlining that there could be “no peace or development if individuals are not given the chance to contribute personally by their own labour to the growth of the common good.”
A cause for particular concern, he said was the increase of child labourers.
Concluding his address Pope Francis urged those in public life to cultivate a spirit of service to humanity and intergenerational solidarity, in order be a sign of hope for a troubled world.