Human Rights Day is Dec. 10:
Recover better - Stand up for human rights!
“The fundamental rights of all human beings, especially the most vulnerable,
must be respected and protected in every situation.”
~ Pope Francis, Human Rights Day, December 10, 2018
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Greetings of peace!

On December 10th, people from across the globe will observe Human Rights Day. From its origins, the United Nations has worked diligently to protect populations from different threats—both in times of war and times of peace. This year’s theme, “Recover Better—Stand up for Human Rights,” shines a light on the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to ensure that human rights are central to recovery efforts. 
As warned by UN Secretary-General Antoñio Guterres in early July, COVID-19 has become a protection crisis and continues to inflict an unprecedented human rights crisis on the least protected in our communities and society. The rights of women, children, youth, older persons, refugees, persons with disabilities, the communities of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and those confined in torture cells, among others, are threatened on a daily basis. Many of the abuses they bear go unreported and remain hidden in plain sight. 

We hope you find this PSA e-Bulletin helpful as you and members of your region or local group observe Human Rights Day tomorrow.

Thank you for being champions of human rights in these times of uncertainty.
Sr. Dianna Ortiz
In peace,

Dianna Ortiz, OSU
Pax Christi USA Deputy Director
Litany of Gratitude for Everyday Heroes Defending Human Rights during Covid-19 

Source of Hope, we give thanks to Ethiopian Freweini Mebrahtu for transforming her business of manufacturing reusable menstrual pads for girls during the pandemic to producing face masks for the most vulnerable women and children in her community. Pause for a moment of silence.

Source of Hope, we give thanks to Ben Davis, program director and a social worker for the Center for Urban Community Services, who in the center of a soaring pandemic seeks to create spaces of justice-centered hospitality for the homeless and low-income in New York. Pause for a moment of silence.

Source of Hope, we give thanks to the staff at Medical Action Group, a non-profit organization in the Philippines. In the midst of the pandemic, the committed team continues to work tirelessly to assist victims of torture, people deprived of liberty, and their families during this global health crisis. Pause for a moment of silence.

Source of Hope, we give thanks to Salvadoran priest, Moises Rutilio Moran and his staff, for starting a fresh water fish pond to sell affordable fish to parishioners and local communities to combat the country’s COVID-induced lack of food. Pause for a moment of silence.

Source of Hope, we give thanks to the family of 88-year-old Darrell Blackley from Greater Manchester, England, who died from COVID-19. In his memory, they are encouraging people to carry out acts of kindness during these difficult times—to reach out to the lonely, provide assistance to those in need, and to share words of encouragement and hope with others. Pause for a moment of silence.

Take a moment to lift up those in your immediate circle, as well as those around the world who are offering solidarity and compassion to others affected by the pandemic. Reflect on how you have supported those around you affected by the pandemic. Give some thought to those who have given you support and companionship during this crisis. (Share your story with Pax Christi USA. We would love to hear from you.)

Source of Hope, we are surrounded by a sea of individuals, communities, and organizations who work tirelessly to defend the human rights of the least protected during the pandemic. May their acts of solidarity and compassion inspire us to reach out in love to our neighbors near and far during this season of social isolation. May we advance a collective vision of creating a community that is fair and welcoming for all. May we be your signs of compassion in the heart of your hurting world. Amen. 

Recommended prayer resources to use during the pandemic:

> Later this evening, go to the Pax Christi USA website to read a special Advent reflection for tomorrow, Dec. 10th, International Human Rights Day, written by Amy Finn-Schultz from this year's Advent-Christmas reflection booklet. It will be posted after 7pm ET.
The failure to protect the human rights of the poor and the least protected who have been laid bare and exploited by the virus requires an immediate response. Human rights standards, as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Gospels, and the principles of Catholic social teaching, must be applied to tackle deepening poverty, rising inequalities, structural and entrenched racism, and gender-based violence arising from the virus. 

From the outset of the pandemic, Pope Francis has maintained that those on society’s margins have suffered most during the health crisis. He continues to remind us that “we cannot feel alright when any member of the human family is left behind and in the shadows.” In late spring, he created the COVID-19 Commission, led by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development as a means to confront the challenges the world is facing as it battles the coronavirus pandemic and what it will certainly face in its aftermath. The taskforce is made up of five working groups—each focusing on a particular aspect of the pandemic: 1) acting now for the future; 2) looking to the future with creativity; 3) communicating hope; 4) seeking common dialogue and reflections; and 5) supporting to care. To learn more about the COVID-19 Commission’s work, click here. 

Additional resources:  

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

  1. As a Catholic peace movement committed to defending the rights and dignity of all peoples, what role does Pax Christi USA play in helping to rebuild a better post-pandemic world? 
  2. How might we build community in a world promoting distance to preserve our health and the spread of the virus? What needs to be changed to confront the coronavirus crisis?
  3. What can you and/or your local group do to ensure that human dignity and basic needs are not ignored or forgotten?
  4. Of the five areas identified by the COVID-19 Commission as fundamental in making the world better and safer, which one appeals to you and/or your local group? How might you join public, private, and civil sectors in creating a more inclusive, peaceful and sustainable future where emphasis on human rights steer us on a path toward a healthier world—a world with healthy people, healthy institutions and a healthy planet?
“Everyone is called to play his or her part ‘with courage and determination’ 
to stop those ongoing violations of basic human rights 
and promote respect for the fundamental rights of every person, 
‘especially those who are invisible,’ those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, 
foreign or detained, those who live on the margins of society or are rejected."
~ Pope Francis, Human Rights Day, 2018
1) In your upcoming PCUSA local group meeting, renew your commitment to human rights by taking the pledge: “I pledge to STAND UP for human rights.” 

2) With your local group, discuss the work of the Vatican COVID-19 Commission and the United Nation who are working to rebuild a better post-pandemic world. In your local group decide together how you can offer support to the least protected around you and how you might promote a future of hope in your community. 

3) Governments who stockpile and threaten to use nuclear weapons threaten our human rights—our heath, survival, and common home. On Human Rights Day, send a strong message to President Joe Biden and urge him to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. You can share your message via Facebook.

4) Stand up for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples! There are several areas identified in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples where our country must do better to protect and preserve the human rights and unique Indigenous rights of the more than five million Indigenous peoples who reside in the United States. Send a message to your Members of Congress asking them to urge the administration to uphold our commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

5) Use the hashtag #standup4humanrights on social media to prevent violence and sustain peace, stand up for equal dignity and gender equality, and stand up against racism, human trafficking, and torture. 

6) On December 10, 2020, at 12:30pm ET join the UN International Human Rights Day McLaughlin College Lunch Talk Series

7) Join the UN Chamber Music Society Virtual concert in Celebration of Human Rights Day, Thursday, December 10th at 7:00pm ET. The concert will feature composers from diverse backgrounds. Watch the performance on YouTube here or through the UN here.

8) Promote stories on your social media of everyday people you know who have stood up for human rights.

Share with Pax Christi USA how you and your local groups are observing Human Rights Day!