EG 190: The Rights of Peoples

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdalenePope Francis, in Evangelii Gaudium, doesn’t really break any new ground with this section. He cites basic Catholic social doctrine:

190. Sometimes it is a matter of hearing the cry of entire peoples, the peace is founded not only on respect for human rights, but also on respect the rights of peoples.[Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church 157]

We are called to something some people find difficult: a recognition of the basic rights of a society, a culture, a community. Individual rights are not supreme, as they must be aligned with an overall balance for the common good. Pope Francis acknowledges sometimes we don’t get this right:

Sadly, even human rights can be used as a justification for an inordinate defense of individual rights or the rights of the richer peoples. With due respect for the autonomy and culture of every nation, we must never forget that the planet belongs to all (humankind) and is meant for all (humankind); the mere fact that some people are born in places with fewer resources or less development does not justify the fact that they are living with less dignity.

The papal predecessor is cited, and we are reminded he’s not breaking any new ground with his “dangerous” pronouncements. He’s squarely in line with John Paul II and Paul VI:

It must be reiterated that “the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others”.[Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens 23] To speak properly of our own rights, we need to broaden our perspective and to hear the plea of other peoples and other regions than those of our own country. We need to grow in a solidarity which “would allow all peoples to become the artisans of their destiny”,[Populorum Progressio 65] since “every person is called to self-fulfilment”.[Populorum Progressio 15]

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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