On Human Rights and Responsibilities
By Fr. Ronan Newbold, CP and John Gonzalez
As in sacred scripture, the exact words “human rights” and “human dignity” are difficult terms to find in the rules of Religious Men and Women. However, in our Passionist Rule and Constitutions of 1984, Article # 72, we read the following:
“Guided by the teaching of the Church and our own consecration to the Passion of Christ, we strive to make our lives and apostolate an authentic and credible witness on behalf of justice and human dignity.
“Accordingly, our life-style must stand out as a prophetic condemnation of the injustices among which we live; it should be a continual witness against the abuses of a consumer society.” In the sentence above “human dignity” appears describing how we are to live and what we are to preach
Lest we forget.
Timor-Leste (East Timor), an island nation north of Darwin, Australia, is one of the world’s newest countries. It has a long history with the Catholic Church, beginning with its colonization by the Portuguese Dominican mission in 1556. Timor-Leste was under Portuguese rule until it joined other Portuguese colonies in declaring its independence on November 28, 1975. Nine days later, it was invaded by Indonesia and struggled for independence until the international community finally responded in 1999. During the occupation, much of Timor-Leste’s already fragile infrastructure was destroyed, and even today the country is still recovering.
It was just then, when all seemed lost, and after both the humanitarian agencies of the International Committee of the Red Cross and that of the United Nations were thrown out of the country, that the world became aware of two marvelous initiatives and developments. In the midst of the carnage and destruction, the first powerful ray of hope came from the leaders of the Church. Priests, nuns, and other church workers, had constantly supported the people, 98% of whom were Catholic, in their quest for human rights, democracy, and self-determination.