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Orthodox Christianity and Human Rights in Europe

A Dialogue Between Theological Paradigms and Socio-Legal Pragmatics



This collective book aims at examining in what terms, and to what extent, the "reception" of the Human Rights doctrine takes place in Eastern Orthodox countries, as well as in the Orthodox diaspora. A series of questions are raised regarding the resources and theological structures that are mobilized in the overall Human Rights’ debate and controversy, the theological "interpretation" of Human Rights within the Eastern Orthodox spiritual tradition, and the similarities and/or divergences of this "interpretation", compared to the other Christian confessions. Special attention is given to the various Orthodox actors on the international arena, aside the national Orthodox churches, which participate in the Ecumenical dialogue, as well as the dialogue with the European and international institutions.

Religious freedom, as a fundamental Human right, guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), constitutes a key-issue that contributes to broadening the reflections on the overall Human Rights-related problematic between East and West, by shading light on the more complex issue pertaining to the conceptualization and implementation of Human Rights in countries belonging to the Eastern Orthodox tradition.

The present volume studies the diversity that characterizes the Orthodox theological traditions and interpretations regarding Human Rights, not only in terms of an "external", or a "strategical" approach of socio-political and ecclesial nature, but also through a reflexive analysis of theological discourses.

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Human Rights and the Catholic Tradition of Social Ethics (Walter Lesch)


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Human Rights and the Catholic Tradition of Social Ethics

Walter LESCH

It is a challenge to deal with the complicated relationships between human rights and Catholicism within the narrow limits of an article1. A lot of international research has been done on this controversial topic so that the following lines can only be a provisional synthesis of some aspects of these well documented scholarly debates2. The context of these remarks is the dialogue with other Christian traditions, in particular the Orthodox one which is not widely known in the Western world3. Catholics are in a bad position to teach lessons to their fellow Christians as far as human rights are concerned. What seems to show a clear profile nowadays in theology, ethics and at the level of official teaching, is the result of long story of rejection and denial so that it helpful to understand why Roman Catholicism, certainly not always known as the avant-garde of the defence of human rights, sees itself today as one of the most determined advocates of human dignity and personal rights. This intellectual and practical shift from a most negative to a highly positive ← 51 | 52 → stance is in itself a key issue of the historicity of Christian ethics. There is not one single and absolute ethical approach that could never be modified. If the Catholic tradition has been capable of such a radical progress in learning, why should other religious traditions not succeed as well...

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