(Source: MJ/Vatican News)

Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Vatican to the UN and Other International Organizations in Geneva, delivered a statement on behalf of the Holy See on Thursday during the 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council.

On Monday, a group of countries led by Burkina Faso proposed the idea of an urgent debate on racism to the Human Rights Council, which accepted it. Murder victim George Floyd’s brother, Philonise, addressed the organization on Wednesday via a video message.

Racial discrimination intolerable

Archbishop Jurkovič’s presented the statement on behalf of the Holy See on Thursday.

In it, he declared that “the Holy See wishes to reiterate its consistent and firm conviction that racial discrimination in all its forms is absolutely intolerable”.

He reiterated that its basis is rooted in the fact that “all members of the human family, made in the image and likeness of God are equal in their inherent dignity, regardless of his or her race, nation, sex, origin, culture or religion”.

As such, it is the responsibility of the State to “recognize, defend and promote” each person’s basic human rights.

Human rights are inviolable

The Archbishop then quoted Pope Francis’s discourse of 26 October 2015 given during a meeting with participants in a pilgrimage of gypsies:

“The time has come to put an end to age-old prejudices, preconceptions and mutual mistrust that are often at the base of discrimination, racism and xenophobia. No one must feel isolated, and no one is authorized to trample on the dignity and rights of others”.

Jurkovič then stated that to trample on another’s “inviolable dignity” is akin to “treading on our own”.

He ended his statement quoting Pope Francis’s words during the General Audience of 3 June 2020:

“We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life. At the same time, we have to recognize that violence is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost”.

More on Novena on the Church’s commitment to fighting racism:

Viewpoint from Brazilian Dominican theologian Frei Betto: “Thank you, George”

Council for World Mission calls on Christians to “rise up” against “pandemic” of racism

Vincentian Family condemns “very serious sin” of racism, “the complete opposite of faith”

No justice, no peace: Why Catholics fight against institutionalised violence


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