Pope Paul VI
Message in Union with the Bishops Assembled at the Synod,
"Human Rights and Reconciliation"
October 23, 1974
[W]e desire by our words and actions to encourage those who work for human
rights, to call upon those in authority to promote human rights, and to give
hope to those who suffer violations of their rights. We call attention here to
certain rights most threatened today.
The right to life: This right is basic and inalienable. It is grievously
violated in our day by contraception, sterilization, abortion and euthanasia, by
widespread torture, by acts of violence against innocent parties, and by the
scourge of war, genocide, mass campaigns against the right to life. The arms
race is an insanity which burdens the world and creates the conditions for even
more massive destruction of life.
The right to eat: This right is directly linked to the right to life.
Millions today face starvation. The nations and peoples of the world must make a
concerted act of solidarity in the forthcoming United Nations Food Conference.
We call upon governments to undergo a conversion in their attitude toward the
victims of hunger, to respond to the imperatives of justice and reconciliation,
and speedily to find the means of feeding those who are without food.
Socio-economic rights: Reconciliation is rooted in justice. Massive
disparities of power and wealth in the world, and often within nations, are a
grave obstacle to reconciliation. Concentration of economic power in the hands
of a few nations and multinational groups, structural imbalances in trade
relations and commodity prices, failure to balance economic growth with adequate
distribution, both nationally and internationally, widespread unemployment and
discriminatory employment practices, as well as patterns of global consumption
of resources all require reform if reconciliation is to be possible.
Politico-cultural rights: Reconciliation in society and the rights of the
person require that individuals have an effective role in shaping their own
destinies. They have a right to participate in the political process freely and
responsibly. They have a right to free access to information, freedom of speech
and press, as well as freedom of dissent. They have a right to be educated and
to determine the education of their children. Individuals and groups must be
secure from arrest, torture and imprisonment for political or ideological
reasons, and all in society. including migrant workers, must be guaranteed
juridical protection of their personal, social, cultural and political rights.
We condemn the denial or abridgement of rights because of race. We advocate that
nations and contesting groups seek reconciliation by halting persecution of
others and by granting amnesty, marked by mercy and equity, to political
prisoners and exiles.
The right of religious liberty: This right uniquely reflects the dignity
of the person as this is known from the Word of God and from reason itself.
Today it is denied or restricted by diverse political systems in ways which
impede worship, religious education and social ministry. We call upon all
governments to acknowledge the right of religious liberty in words and foster it
in deeds, to eliminate any type of discrimination, and to accord to all,
regardless of their religious convictions, the full rights and opportunities of
citizens. ( ... )
Teachings of the Magisterium on Life