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Religious threats to Human Rights

For the threats posed to human rights specifically by concordats:
♦  Concerns about human rights.
For concerns about the Slovak concordat that the Vatican still hopes to finalise:
♦  Draft of the “conscience concordat” (2004).

As the Church of Englsnd delicately implies, human rights are a competing value system:
“The concept of human rights is not a straightforward one to integrate fully into Christian theology.”
— “Voice of the Church in public life”, Mission and Public Affairs Council,
Church in England, October 2008.

Savita Halappanavar’s death shows how a system which ostensibly permitted abortion to save the mother’s life failed to protect her from the conscientious objection of her caregivers.”  — Elizabeth Prochaska, barrister and founder of Birthrights

Ireland, where Savita died needlessly, is not the only European country where a doctor's right to conscientious objection can trump a woman't right to life. According to a complaint accepted by the Council of Europe in 2014, the government of Italy has also failed to ensure that women can get the abortions that they are entitled to by law. It has not guaranteed the adequate presence of non-objecting medical personnel in all public hospitals. In Italy desperate women are facing an increasingly more difficult search for help. And in 2014 in Poland 2.5 thousand doctors (and counting) made an online pledge to adhere to Catholic doctrine. This indicates that they are not willing to perform even those abortions which are still legally allowed, in defiance of the European Court of Human Rights. The doctors' declaration "recognize the primacy of God's law over human law". So much for human rights!

And in the US clinics offering contraception and abortion are being subjected to terrorism. The attackers justify their actions by comparing abortion to the Holocaust  an idea first put forword in 2005 by Saint John Paul II.

In much of the developing world it the situation is also dire. There "faith-based organisations" (FBO) use government money to provide much of the health care and many of them offer only the services they approve of to only the people they approve of  in clear violation of human rights. Watch the video on how this works, Development Aid: What You Need to Know and read the report from Catholics for Choice.

Women, of course, are not the only group to suffer disproportionately from Vatican doctrines. Catholic gays continue to suffer under Pope Francis, as the editor of a gay newspaper points out. In fact, an explanation of the context of his famous remark, suggests a less liberal interpretation of his famous comment, “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” This turns out to have been part of the pope's refusal to let a trusted aide, Monsignor Battista Ricca, be ousted by elements in the Curia who were trying to block Francis' reforms. This remark, therefore, seems to be less about gays per se than about asserting papal power.

And in places like Africa, where Catholic Church is growing fast, the position of gays is tragic. As many as 36 African countries have laws against homosexuality, and tolerance of gays is widely seen as "Western colonialism". According to the sociologist of religion, Philip Jenkins, if the African churches were to soften their stance on gays, "Catholic leaders say they would just seem to be selling out to the West, betraying African values and just giving the whole thing to Islam".

 

The Rights of Man reach an Ivorian village

How can people come to see as a problem those parts of their own traditions which trample on human rights? An appeal to something more important than cultural or religious tradition is a revolutionary idea. This account captures people's excitement on first hearing about human rights. The women of the Côte d'Ivoire today show what it must have felt like to people in Europe two centuries ago, as they made the thrilling discovery: "We have rights, too!"

Canon Law in action: Were the Papal States a “perfect society”?

One night in 1859 in the pope's kingdom his police raided a Jewish home. In accordance with one of the “sacred canons” and at the pope's behest, they kidnapped the family's six-year-old. Almost a century later, at the end of WWII, in accordance with the same Church law, the Vatican refused to return baptised Jewish children to surviving relatives. Canon law still gives the final say to the bishop, not the parents, and to its own rules, not civil law.

How secrecy shielded the Legion of Christ from the law

The secrecy vow removes Legion of Christ members from the protection of secular law. The Vatican did not intervene, despite more than 50 years of warnings about its founder Fr. Marcial Maciel (1920-2008). The Legion is too useful, because it goes “where the priest can’t”, bringing money, influence and new priests. Cardinal Ratzinger was shown on ABC TV in 2002 refusing to discuss the scandal. Yet the Vatican claimed in 2010 that even the priests in the Legion didn’t know what was going on....

French law makes cult’s brainwashing a crime (2001)

The murder-suicides of the Solar Temple cult shocked France and presented a legal conundrum. How could a cult leader be prosecuted if he got his followers to give him their life savings and commit suicide “voluntarily”? To hold such leaders accountable, in 2001 France passed the About-Picard Law, making it a crime to mentally manipulate the vulnerable. Leaders convicted of this or other offences can have their groups closed down.

A biologist sets the pro-lifers straight

Prof Guttman calls arguments about “life” a red herring. The “pro-lifers” misrepresent the very concept of “life”, because eggs and sperm are just as much “alive” as people are. “All the talk about how human life begins at the moment of conception is sheer nonsense” — which doesn't stop it from being enshrined in the law of places like Kansas. The pro-lifers’ real aim appears to be to keep women “subservient” and deny them their human rights.  

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