December 14, 2018


The work—and struggle—of respecting human rights continues

It’s been 70 years since the document came to fruition, and sadly, many are still waiting for its words to envelop human hearts and become the norm in our world.

On Dec. 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. It detailed core principles that guaranteed the fundaments rights of every person.

Decades later, Pope Francis and many others are still striving to have the fundamental rights of all people—especially the most vulnerable—to be respected and protected in every situation.

“While a part of humanity lives in opulence, another part sees their dignity denied, ignored or infringed upon and their fundamental rights ignored or violated,” the pope wrote on Dec. 10 in marking Human Rights Day.

The pope’s message, according to a Catholic News Service story, was read aloud by Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, at a Dec. 10-11 conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome discussing the “achievements, omissions and negations” in the world of human rights today.

Such a contradiction, the Holy Father wrote, leads one to ask “whether the equal dignity of all human beings—solemnly proclaimed 70 years ago—is truly recognized, respected, protected and promoted in every circumstance.”

One only needs to look at the unborn, those forced to live in poverty, and those being persecuted for their religious beliefs, among other things, to witness firsthand how “numerous forms of injustice,” as Pope Francis noted, still exist in the world today. With that mindset, many seem to have no qualms about exploiting, rejecting, and even killing human beings.

Those whose basic human rights continue to be violated, the pope said, include: the unborn, who are “denied the right to come into the world”; those who lack the necessary means to live a decent life; those who are denied an adequate education; those who lack work or are forced to work in slave-like conditions; those who are detained in inhumane conditions, who are tortured or are denied the possibility of redeeming their lives; and victims of “forced disappearances” and their families.

But the human rights violations don’t end there.

In addition, Pope Francis said, there are those who live “in an atmosphere dominated by suspicion and disdain, who are the targets of acts of intolerance, discrimination and violence because of their race, ethnicity, nationality or religion.”

As disciples of Christ, the Holy Father said, we are each called to play our part “with courage and determination” to stop those ongoing violations of basic human rights and promote respect for the fundamental rights of every person, “especially those who are ‘invisible,’ those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, foreign or detained, those who live on the margins of society or are rejected.”

Seventy years later, it appears many in our fractured world still have plenty of work to do in seeing Christ in others and being Christ for others.

In our vocations as missionary disciples, may each of us always have the courage to set an example and do just that.

—Mike Krokos

Young adults, focus on your faith at SEEK2019 conference on Jan. 3-7

We’ve heard Pope Francis share the message on numerous occasions, and our shepherd, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson of Indianapolis, has echoed it consistently as well: Young people are the key to the life and mission of our Church.

And while in years past, some have stated young people are the “future” of our faith, we, like our Holy Father and Archbishop Thompson, know the time is now to get teenagers, college students and young adults fully involved in participating in our Church as disciples of Christ.

Such an opportunity is presenting itself here in central and southern Indiana on Jan. 3-7, 2019, when the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) is holding its SEEK2019 conference at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. The gathering is geared primarily for Catholic college students and young adults.

Although the deadline for registration has passed, passes for commuters and one‑day or weekend-only participants are still available. For more information about the conference, visit

On page 3 of this week’s issue of The Criterion, you can read about how this biennial conference has changed the lives of several young Catholics.

If you’re a young Catholic who has fallen away from the faith, consider yourself a lukewarm Catholic, or feel you need a spiritual recharge, we encourage you to consider signing up for a commuter, weekend, or day pass.

As you flip the calendar into a new year, wouldn’t this gathering of faith be a great way to jump-start your 2019?

—Mike Krokos

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