“It is in fact painful to see the number of fundamental human rights that in our day continue to be violated with impunity. The list of such violations is indeed lengthy, and offers us a frightening picture of a humanity abused, wounded, deprived of dignity, freedom and hope for the future,” he continued.
“As part of this picture, religious believers continue to endure every kind of persecution, including genocide, because of their beliefs. We Christians too are victims of this: how many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world are suffering, forced at times to flee from their ancestral lands, cut off from their rich history and culture.”
Pope Francis urged world leaders to be especially attentive to the rights of children, “particularly their right to life and to schooling,” acclaiming the example of Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani advocate for female education.
He reminded the UN that the first teachers of every child are his or her mother and father, adding that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights describes the family as the “natural and fundamental group unit of society”.
“All too often, the family is the victim of forms of ideological colonialism that weaken it and end up producing in many of its members, especially the most vulnerable -- the young and the elderly -- a feeling of being orphaned and lacking roots,” Pope Francis said.
“The breakdown of the family echoes the social fragmentation that hinders our efforts to confront common enemies,” he added.
In his speech, Pope Francis said that the coronavirus pandemic had highlighted the urgent need to “make every person’s right to basic medical care a reality” and exposed “the rapidly growing inequality between the super-rich and the permanently poor.”
“I think of the effects of the pandemic on employment … There is an urgent need to find new forms of work truly capable of fulfilling our human potential and affirming our dignity,” he said.
“In order to ensure dignified employment, there must be a change in the prevailing economic paradigm, which seeks only to expand companies’ profits. Offering jobs to more people should be one of the main objectives of every business, one of the criteria for the success of productive activity.”
Calling on the international community to “put an end to economic injustices,” the pope proposed instead an economic model that “encourages subsidiarity, supports economic development and invests in education and infrastructure benefiting local communities.”