Pope Francis, during his Sunday Angelus address, marked the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, underscoring the ongoing commitment required to uphold these fundamental principles.
He expressed solidarity with those actively working to defend human rights in the face of everyday challenges.
“Many steps have been taken, many still need to be made, and, unfortunately, at times, steps backward have been taken,” he said.
Turning his attention to the prevailing global challenges of conflict and war, Pope Francis requested prayers for all those suffering due to armed conflicts.
As the Christmas season approaches, he asked, “Are we able, with God’s help, to take concrete steps for peace?”
The pontiff acknowledged the difficulties inherent in resolving deeply rooted conflicts but urged individuals to follow the example of those who have diligently worked towards peaceful coexistence.
He went on to highlight the significance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a guiding framework, urging global efforts to safeguard and promote these rights.
Pope Francis affirmed his closeness to individuals engaged in the tangible defense of human rights in various contexts.
The Pope addressed recent positive developments in the South Caucasus. Expressing joy at the release of Armenian and Azerbaijani prisoners, he extended hope for sustained peace in the region.
He encouraged leaders from both nations to expedite the conclusion of a peace treaty, emphasizing the importance of tangible steps toward reconciliation.
In a specific call to action, Pope Francis advocated for the protection of civilians, hospitals, and places of worship in conflict zones.
He called for the release of hostages and the assurance of humanitarian aid in areas affected by conflict. The Pope directed attention to ongoing crises, mentioning the plight of Ukraine, Palestine, and Israel.
Pope Francis extended prayers for the successful outcome of the COP28 Conference on Climate Change in Dubai.
He urged global efforts for the care of the common home and the protection of populations, signaling the Vatican’s concern for the environment and the well-being of all humanity.