Pope Francis Calls for Defense of Human Rights Under ‘Dictatorships, Authoritarian Regimes’

Pope Francis swings a thurible of incense as he prepares to celebrate the Eucharist during Easter Mass on April 04, 2021 at St. Peter's Basilica in The Vatican during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/POOL/AFP via Getty

ROME — Pope Francis has issued an appeal for the defense of human rights around the world, especially for those living under dictatorships and authoritarian regimes.

“Let us pray for those who risk their lives while fighting for fundamental rights under dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and even in democracies in crisis, that they may see their sacrifice and their work bear abundant fruit,” reads the pope’s monthly prayer intention, posted Tuesday by the pontiff’s Worldwide Prayer Network.

The pope also sent out a tweet Tuesday with an accompanying video, in which he insists that courage and resolution are needed to defend people’s basic rights.

“Defending fundamental human rights demands courage and determination,” Francis declares in the video, speaking in his native Spanish. “I’m referring to actively combatting poverty, inequality, the lack of work, land, and housing, and the denial of social and labor rights.”

“Often, in practice, fundamental human rights are not equal for all,” he states. “There are first-, second-, and third-class people, and those who are disposable. No. They must be equal for all.”

“In some places, defending people’s dignity can mean going to prison, even without a trial,” he adds. “Or it might mean slander.”

“Every human being has the right to develop fully, and this fundamental right cannot be denied by any country,” he concludes.

Unfortunately, the pope’s unwillingness to call out China’s egregious human rights violations undermines his otherwise vital and timely message.

Just days ago, in his yearly Easter message in which he calls attention to human rights abuses around the world, the pope once again refrained from drawing attention to the Chinese Communist Party’s active genocide of the Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region.

For several years, Francis has been currying favor with Beijing in an effort to establish diplomatic relations with the officially atheist country and seems unwilling to do anything to upset Chinese leadership.

On Easter, the pope drew attention to key areas around the globe suffering conflicts and injustice, mentioning the people of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, the Sahel, Nigeria, Tigray and the Cabo Delgado region, eastern Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as Jerusalem and the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and the pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar.

As he has done on previous occasions, Francis opted to remain silent regarding China and its concentration camps where over a million Uighurs are currently detained, many of whom are tortured, raped, and forcibly sterilized.

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