POPE FRANCIS HAS condemned all, even ‘subtle,’ attacks on life, including lives of children and the elderly.

The Pontiff did so when addressing the diplomatic corps of all ambassadors accredited to the Holy See in the Apostolic Palace, during the annual tradition of exchanging greetings and addressing them.

In his speech which dedicated much attention to protecting human rights, he also touched on a variety of other themes, acknowledging the suffering that is plaguing the world, and the help needed for those places, including Syria and the Holy Land.

The Pope reminded the diplomats of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, emphasizing his intention to dedicate today’s encounter to the document, 70 years after its adoption on Dec. 10, 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

The document–the Pope reminded–affirms, “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

For the Holy See, to speak of human rights means above all, he emphasized, to restate the centrality of the human person, willed and created by God in his image and likeness.

“The Lord Jesus himself, by healing the leper, restoring sight to the blind man, speaking with the publican, saving the life of the woman caught in adultery and demanding that the injured wayfarer be cared for, makes us understand that every human being, independent of his or her physical, spiritual or social condition, is worthy of respect and consideration.”

A reductive vision of the human person, the Pope cautioned, “opens the way to the growth of injustice, social inequality and corruption.”

The Pope noted after 70 years have passed, he is pained to see how many fundamental rights continue to be violated today, especially the right of every human person to life, liberty and personal security.

He noted that not only war or violence infringe these rights.

“In our day, there are more subtle means: I think primarily of innocent children discarded even before they are born, unwanted at times simply because they are ill or malformed, or as a result of the selfishness of adults.

“I think of the elderly, who are often cast aside, especially when infirm and viewed as a burden.

“I think of women who repeatedly suffer from violence and oppression, even within their own families.

“I think too of the victims of human trafficking, which violates the prohibition of every form of slavery.”

The Pope lamented how many people, especially those fleeing from poverty and war, “have fallen prey to such commerce perpetrated by unscrupulous individuals.”

The Pope also reminded that defending the right to life and physical integrity also means safeguarding the right to health on the part of individuals and their families.

In order to effectively defend the right to life, he also stressed, one must actively strive for peace. “For without peace, integral human development becomes unattainable.”

Over the years, especially following the social upheaval of the 1960’s, the Pope noted, the interpretation of some rights “has progressively changed, with the inclusion of a number of ‘new rights’ that not infrequently conflict with one another.”

This, the Pontiff explained, has not always helped the promotion of friendly relations between nations, since debatable notions of human rights have been advanced that are at odds with the culture of many countries.

“Somewhat paradoxically,” he pointed out, “there is a risk that, in the very name of human rights, we will see the rise of modern forms of ideological colonization by the stronger and the wealthier, to the detriment of the poorer and the most vulnerable.”


The Pope went on to stress that it cannot be forgotten that the traditions of individual peoples “cannot be invoked as a pretext for disregarding the due respect for the fundamental rights proclaimed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”                       


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