“There is a significant relation between the Gospel message and the recognition of human rights in the spirit of those who drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” These are Pope Francis’ words directed earlier this year to members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See. In that speech, the Pope Francis looked ahead to today’s 70th anniversary of the adoption of that Declaration by the United Nations in 1948 which recognizes that “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” is based on “the inherent dignity” and the “equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family”.
A changed world situation
Pope Francis acknowledged in January that with the passage of 70 years, “particularly in the wake of the social upheaval of the 1960s, the interpretation of some rights has progressively changed”. Other rights, he noted, have been added. Paradoxically, he said that in the name of human rights we now face the risk of “modern forms of ideological colonization by the stronger and the wealthier, to the detriment of the poorer and the most vulnerable”. Nothing, not even the “traditions of individual peoples” can be used to disrespect the “fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, the Pope said.
Many fundamental rights continue to be violated
Not only in the context of his address in January, but on many other occasions, Pope Francis continually repeats that “it is regrettable to note that many fundamental rights are still being violated today”. What are they?
● The right to life, particularly of the unborn and the elderly (see Evangelii gaudium, 213; Address to the Association of Science and Life)
● The rights of women who suffer “violence and oppression, even within their own families” *
● The rights of the victims of human trafficking and modern forms of slavery
● The right to food and water (See Laudato Si’, 30; Address to the Seminar on the "Human Right to Water")
● The right to health care which “is not a consumer good, but a universal right” (Address to Doctors with Africa CUAMM)
● The right to live in peace
● The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion
● The right to own property, which is neither “absolute or inviolable” and is subordinated to the “the universal destination of goods” (See Laudato Si’ 93)
● The right to work
● The right to migrate and freedom of movement
● The right to form a family
● The right of children to a father and a mother (See Address to the International Catholic Child Bureau (BICE))
● The right for parents to provide for the religious and moral education of their children
● The right not be colonised by those who want to impose certain ideologies, such as gender ideology (Meeting with young people in Naples; Address to the Polish Bishops in Krakow; Meeting with priests, religious and pastoral workers in Tbilisi, Georgia)
● The right to conscientious objection (Address to Catholic Doctors)
● The right to speak which extends also to the Church (See Evangelii gaudium, 182)
● The right to receive the proclamation of the Gospel (See Evangelii gaudium, 14)
● The right to be happy (See Laudato Si’ 44; Evangelii gaudium, 182)
* For every point noted, the Pope's Address to Members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See on 8 January, 2018 can also be consulted.