The Papal Human Rights Discourse: The Difference Pope Francis Makes
Human Rights Quarterly, 2019, Forthcoming
36 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2017 Last revised: 1 Nov 2018
Date Written: December 22, 2017
Religious actors and their political concepts are commonly assumed as conservative, static, and aligned with the private contemplative world. Popes, however, regularly stood out of this narrative. Analysing the papal human rights discourse, this article illustrates that religious ideas and configuration change in relation to macro-political developments. The article contextualizes the papal human rights discourse and contributes a hitherto neglected aspect to the debate on human rights and religion in the international realm. The research points out three key findings: (1) John Paul II dominates this discourse, which has gained traction since the end of the Second World War. (2) Although Francis takes an outsider role in the papal discourse, he does not differ in principle from the mainstream papal human rights discourse. (3) From the first evocation of human rights by a pope, there is a persistent trend stressing both individual and collective human rights. The results offer fertile ground to anticipate future papal political conduct on the grounds of the trajectory of the human rights discourse.
Keywords: Pope, Francis, Church, human rights, International Relations
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