2020-11-19 GENERAL HOUSE

November 20: International Day for Children’s Rights

We continue to remember this day, and there is good reason to continue doing so.  Have we made progress? I think we can answer ‘yes’. Have we reached the end of this journey? There is no doubt we must answer ‘no’. In the encyclical Fratelli Tutti (8), Pope Francis himself acknowledges that progress has been made, but that this is not enough.

The global situation in which we find ourselves – the pandemic – unquestionably marks a setback in the implementation of Children’s Rights. In many parts of our world, the health crisis translates into an economic and social crisis. And in this type of crisis, we know very well that those who suffer the most are those most vulnerable, particularly children and young people.

In his recently published encyclical – the title of which inspires the concept of Rights – the Pope repeatedly mentions human rights in general and at times focusses particularly on the rights of children. In article 29 there is reference to children who suffer the consequences of poverty and hunger – rights which go to the heart of human dignity, which we cannot renounce in any circumstance.

In article 173 of this same encyclical, the Pope is precise in his sharpens his ideas, challenging the highest political institutions. He advocates reform even of the United Nations, so that “the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth.”

As Marists of Champagnat in this 21st century, we cannot avoid our responsibility to defend basic human rights and even more so to promote children’s rights. For some years now, we have been working in this area at the United Nations, and lobbying government agencies, to defend, protect and enhance the fulfillment of the rights of all children.

We want to continue growing in this domain, working in collaboration with others to develop creative responses, committing ourselves “firmly to the promotion and defence of the rights of children”, as the fifth call of the XXII General Chapter challenges us. Work in favour of children’s rights is increasing in the Provinces and Regions of the Institute. Collaboration with other institutions is also expanding. The creative search for new forms of partnerships with other congregations is developing both locally and at the level of the General Administration.

This time of pandemic can help us to be more sensitive to the needs of our world. It can be an opportunity to open wider “the eyes of our hearts and listen to the cries of children and young people.” We can thank God because, personally and as an Institution, as laypeople and as brothers, we are taking determined steps in this direction. Let us ask the Triune God to grant us the grace to be always sensitive to the needs of children and young people, and to grant us the strength to continue responding to those who need it most.

Br Angel Diego – Director of the Secretariat of Solidarity


FMSI is the foundation created by the Institute to promote and protect the rights of children. FMSI carries on its mission through activities of advocacy, lobbying and with solidarity projects in the countries in which Marists are present.


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