By Maria Smith, Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues
Editor’s note. This is excerpted from a post that appeared today.
Pope Francis sent a message today, Human Rights Day, to an international conference in Rome on human rights—“Human Rights in the Contemporary World: Achievements, Omissions, Negations”—with words that apply to the world and especially to policy makers.
“Human rights must at the center of all policies even when it means going against the grain,” Pope Francis exhorted.
In reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on its the 70th Anniversary, Pope Francis noted that “the Family of Nations wished to acknowledge the equal dignity of every human person, from which fundamental rights and freedoms derive that, in as much as rooted in the nature of the human person — inseparable unity of body and soul — are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interconnected.”
Pope Francis stated that as the anniversaries of the UDHR and the 25th Anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action are celebrated this year, it is his hope that an in-depth reflection on the current state of human rights will “be harbinger of a renewed commitment in favour of the defense of human dignity, with special attention to the most vulnerable members of the community.”
In reflecting on contemporary society, the pope noted that “numerous contradictions are found that induce us to ask ourselves if the equal dignity of all human beings, solemnly proclaimed 70 years ago, is truly recognized, respected, protected and promoted in every circumstance.”
Pope Francis raised the failure to protect the dignity of the unborn child as one of the ‘human rights contradictions’ stating, “I think, among other things, of the unborn who are denied the right to come to the world”.
He continued his exhortation, “This exigency of justice and solidarity has special significance for us Christians, because the Gospel itself invites us to turn our gaze to the littlest of our brothers and sisters, to be moved to compassion (Cf. Matthew 14:14) and to commit ourselves concretely to alleviate their sufferings.”
The words of Pope Francis are an inspiration and encouragement to all who labor for protection of the unborn and have to work “against the current” of today’s culture often subject to ridicule and personal attack.