16 November 2018, The Tablet

Francis and Benedict back symposium exploring human rights

The 15-16 November symposium will attempt to discriminate among different and rival rights claims

Francis and Benedict back symposium exploring human rights

Pope Francis with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI have both sent letters to Fr. Federico Lombardi to mark the inauguration of the 2018 International Symposium “Fundamental Rights and Conflicts Among Rights,” being held by the Ratzinger Foundation in Rome.

The former Holy See Press Office Director serves as president of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation holding the 15-16 November symposium, that is attempting to discriminate among different and rival rights claims.

“While the [10 December 2018] 70th anniversary approaches of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man by the United Nations General Assembly, it is opportune not only to celebrate the memory of that historic event, but also to engage in further reflection on the implementation and development of the vision of human rights in today’s world,” Francis wrote on 13 November. “In the address to the Diplomatic Corps last January, dedicated in fact to this Declaration, I observed that it is geared to removing the walls of separation that divide the human family and to foster integral human development. However, I highlighted at the same time how one must ‘verify that, in the course of the years, the interpretation of some of the rights has been progressively modified, so as to include many “new rights”, not rarely opposed to one another.’ Thus, a series of problems opens, which comes to involve in depth the very idea of a right and its foundations.

“Pope Benedict XVI warned lucidly about the urgency of these topics for our time and he intervened authoritatively on them as thinker and pastor. In fact, because of this, twenty years ago this University conferred on the then Cardinal Ratzinger the "laurea honoris causa" in Jurisprudence.

“Therefore, I hope that the high-level academic Symposium that is about to be held, drawing inspiration from the thought and magisterium of our beloved Pope Emeritus, will be able to contribute with courage and profundity to enlighten a fundamental problem for the protection of the dignity of the human person and his integral development.”

 In his own letter dated 12 November, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote:

“Dear Father Lombardi, As you know, since I was informed — several months ago — of the first project of the International Symposium on the theme “Fundamental Rights and Conflicts among Rights,” I expressed to you immediately my appreciation for the initiative, considering it extraordinarily useful. In particular, it seemed important to me that there be explicit discussion on the problem of the “multiplication of rights” and on the risk “of the destruction of the idea of right.”

“It is a current and fundamental issue to protect the basis of the human family’s coexistence, which merits once again to be the theme of further and systematic reflection, as the Symposium’s programme shows.

“Therefore, I assure all the speakers and participants in the Symposium of my esteem and my closeness in prayer, so that the Lord will bless the works as precious service for the Church and for the good of the human family. Yours in the Lord, Benedict XVI.”

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