Fratelli Tutti 22: On Human Rights

The confluence of human rights and Pope Francis have been somewhat in the news this past week. I’d rather focus on his official word on what he has termed, “Insufficiently universal human rights.” This is covered in today’s paragraphs and the two that follow. He leads off with a quote from an address he gave in Albania over six years ago:

22. It frequently becomes clear that, in practice, human rights are not equal for all. Respect for those rights “is the preliminary condition for a country’s social and economic development. When the dignity of the human person is respected, and his or her rights recognized and guaranteed, creativity and interdependence thrive, and the creativity of the human personality is released through actions that further the common good”.[Address to the Civil Authorities, Tirana, Albania (21 September 2014): AAS 106 (2014), 773]

Society is bettered when every person is respected and treated with dignity: why is this so hard to understand? I suspect more people do realize it to a degree, but they are focused on personal advantage they can squeeze out of a situation. Unfair and rigged economies are pilloried:

Yet, “by closely observing our contemporary societies, we see numerous contradictions that lead us to wonder whether the equal dignity of all human beings, solemnly proclaimed seventy years ago, is truly recognized, respected, protected and promoted in every situation. In today’s world, many forms of injustice persist, fed by reductive anthropological visions and by a profit-based economic model that does not hesitate to exploit, discard and even kill human beings. While one part of humanity lives in opulence, another part sees its own dignity denied, scorned or trampled upon, and its fundamental rights discarded or violated”.[Message to Participants in the International Conference “Human Rights in the Contemporary World: Achievements, Omissions, Negations”(10 December 2018): L’Osservatore Romano, 10-11 December 2018, p. 8] What does this tell us about the equality of rights grounded in innate human dignity?

It tells us that some of our sisters and brothers are not ready to let go. They will whine about things being stolen or repurposed or wasted in reparations or taxes or such. It’s really more about fairness. Equality is a balance we will never achieve. But opportunity is something that can be generously given to all persons.

All citations of Fratelli Tutti (which can be found on this link) are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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