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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 Orthodoxy. An Inquiry into the Canonical and Social perspectives (Nikos Ch. Maghioros / Christos N. Tsironis)


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Human Rights and Orthodoxy

An Inquiry into the Canonical and Social perspectives1

Nikos Ch. MAGHIOROS and Christos N. TSIRONIS

1.  The rights of the faithful and citizens’ rights: Legal and moral accounts

The modern concept of human rights (HR) appeared after the Second World War in an attempt to prevent states from committing crimes against humanity. An institutional framework was established in order to cover a broader field of rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 (UDHR), which is based both on ethical and political notions, manifests a basically secular understanding of human beings. According to the preamble to the UDHR, ‘… recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.’ In addition, Art. 1 clearly affirms that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Therefore, all nations subscribing to the UDHR are committed to promoting a number of human, civil, economic and social rights. HR have a political aspect as they regulate the interaction of groups and individuals with the State and other political and social authorities. The struggle for the protection and ← 207 | 208 → promotion of human rights is therefore political and presupposes not only social sensibility but also a dynamic...

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