Francis and Benedict address rights symposium

Pope Francis and pope emeritus Benedict – have sent letters supporting the 2018 International Symposium “Fundamental rights and conflicts among rights” taking place in Rome this week.

The symposium is being held by the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation.

Both Francis and Benedict’s letters were addressed to Vatican Foundation president Fr Federico Lombardi SJ and were read at the symposium’s opening.

Both refer to a breakdown in society’s definition of what “a right is,” which they said is putting the development of humanity at risk.

Benedict’s letter says this year’s symposium’s theme is “extraordinarily useful.”

He said he thinks the most important topic symposium members will discuss is “the problem of the ‘multiplication of rights’ and the risk ‘of the destruction of the idea of a right.’”

In his view he said, this “is a current and fundamental question for the protection of the basis of the coexistence of the human family, which merits to be placed again as a topic of deep and systematic reflection,” – which he noted is exactly what the symposium hopes to achieve.

In his letter, Francis pointed to a connection between the symposium and the upcoming 70th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Noting the symposium offers an opportunity to celebrate the memory of the Declaration, Francis said it also provides an opportunity to “impose deep reflection on its application and on its development in the vision of Human Rights in today’s day and age.”

He said that “over time, the interpretation of some rights has progressively been modified to the point of including a multiplicity of ‘new rights,’ not infrequently in contradiction with one another.”

This development has led to numerous problems with the idea of a right, including fundamental rights, Francis said.

Francis pointed out it was Benedict XVI who has been concerned about these changes for many years and has intervened as both “a thinker and a pastor.”

Francis closed his letter saying he hoped “the thought and the magisterium” of Benedict XVI’s papacy would contribute “with courage and depth to shed light on an essential problem for the protection of the dignity of the human person and their integral development.”



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