Vatican News
Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič 

Holy See: Christian vision of human rights linked to Gospel and human dignity

Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations reflects on the Church's role in promoting respect for the inalienable human rights of all.

By Vatican News staff writer

Human Rights Day is annually celebrated on 10 December. It marks the date when the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – a milestone document that proclaims the inalienable rights of everyone regardless of color, race, religion, sex, property, birth, language or status.

For the annual observance this year, the UN proposes “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights” as the theme. It relates to the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis, focusing on the importance of building back better by ensuring that Human Rights are at the center of recovery efforts.

The UN also notes that we will only reach our common global goals if we “create equal opportunities for all, address the failures exposed and exploited by Covid-19 and apply human rights standards to tackle entrenched, systematic and intergenerational inequalities, exclusion and discrimination.”

Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations highlights the importance of respecting the inalienable rights of all in an interview with Vatican News’ Francesca Sabatinelli.

Respect for Human Rights

Archbishop Jurkovič notes the progress achieved by the international community in the defense of human dignity, even though some of it is difficult to quantify. He however observes that there is a lot more to be done as regards the respect of rights at the level of anthropological and religious values.

He adds that the work of the Church for the promotion of human rights is inspired by the Christian vision of human rights as linked to the Gospels and to the dignity of humankind.

The Church, the UN and UDHR

As regards the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, Archbishop Jurkovič notes that the Church’s diplomacy is marked by values that must be faithfully maintained in the face of our changing world.

These values, he continued, must not be given up “because of the pragmatism of politicians or a worldview that changes,” rather, the Holy See must remain faithful to the Gospel and yet be open to dialogue with the world.

The Archbishop further highlighted the Holy See’s very vital role at the UN as a voice that points out issues of concern, including the freedom of decision making. He explains that the role is not only pragmatic or functional, but also based on religious foundations.

“We try to make sure that the new vision of a plurality of tensions and the need for new dialogue with the world is protected, respected, promoted and integrated,” the Archbishop said.


Amid the ongoing health crisis and its far-reaching consequences that are not all currently visible, Archbishop Jurkovič re-echoes the importance of solidarity. He highlights that the Holy See has continually called for equal access to healthcare for all.

“We are learning to be one global family of humanity,” he added.

Pope Francis’ appeal

To commemorate the annual Day, Pope Francis, in a tweet re-echoed his continuous appeal for respect for fundamental Human Rights.

“Everyone is called to contribute with courage and determination to the respect of the fundamental Human Rights of every person, especially of the “invisible” ones: of the many who are hungry, who are naked, sick, foreigners or detainees,” the Pope said.

10 December 2020, 12:21