Pope Francis: Judges should protect human dignity, not violate it

Ann Schneible.- On Saturday, Pope Francis spoke to members of an Italian judiciary council about their responsibility to protect man's dignity, and said a culture rooted in Christian values is necessary for keeping crimes and corruption at bay.

“Globalization itself,” the pontiff said, “carries with it aspects of possible confusion and disorientation, such as when it becomes a vehicle for introducing customs, ideas, even standards, foreign to a social fabric with consequential deterioration of cultural roots.”

In light of this “profound shock” to cultural roots, he added it is important for public authorities and those in the judiciary field to use their office to “give stability and resistance to the foundations of human society through the recovery of fundamental values.”

The Pope said the true foundation for these values is found in Christianity: “the love of God, which is inseparable from the love of neighbor.”

Such a foundation, he said, can serve to block the spread of criminal activity and the “plague of corruption,” which are also present in developed democracies. 

Pope Francis made these remarks during a Jun. 13 audience at the Vatican with members of the Italian Superior Council of the Magistrature, a political entity which aims to ensure autonomy and independence for judiciaries from other branches of the Italian government.

One way of criminal activity and corruption, the pontiff told the judiciaries, is through the education of new generations in an “anthropology and way of life” which responds to the “lofty and profound inspirations of the human soul.”

For this reason, institutions should work toward the promotion of the “human person and of peaceful coexistence,” he said. 

“Justice is not done in the abstract, but always considers man in his true value, as a being created in the image of God, and called to achieve, here on earth, His likeness.” 

Pope Francis also observed the how the interventions made by judiciaries in the face of violations against the law not only affect individuals, but communities. 

“Rightly,” he said, there is placed “particular emphasis on the theme of human rights, which constitutes the fundamental nucleus of the recognition of essential human dignity.”

The Holy Father warned against abuses which, “instead of promoting and guaranteeing human dignity, actually threaten or even violate it.”

The Pope concluded by remembering the former vice president of Catholic Action, judge and politician Vittorio Bachelet, who was assassinated in 1980 by the Brigate Rosse (Red Brigades). 

“May his witness as a man, a Christian, and a jurist continue to animate your commitment to the service of justice and the common good.”

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