On December 10, 2018, the United Nations and the world commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as a result December 10th is referred to as Human Rights Day. The declaration was signed at Paris, France, at the third meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.  The original document was written in English and French, and subsequently has been translated into 370 languages.  Arguably it might be considered one of the most translated documents in human history.

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At the time the document was signed, the General Assembly consisted of 58-Member States, 48-members voted in favor, 8-members voted against, and 2- members did not vote. The declaration consists of some 30 Articles and has a resemblance to the U.S. Declaration of Independence. The U.S. Declaration written in 1776, states that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain Inalienable Rights.  These rights include; Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.  The U.S. Declaration also lists Freedom of Speech as a guaranteed and protected right. These same rights are also listed in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in articles 3 -11.

Although both documents mention the right to life as fundamental, unfortunately this God-Given right isn’t recognized in many countries including the United States. Sadly, many political leaders don’t accept or protect the fundamental right of children living in the womb. Many leaders are very outspoken about many other rights, but fail to recognize the basic right of children living in the womb. So what value are other rights if the basic right to life of a child living in the womb is ignored?  Therefore, it’s important that as part of Human Rights Day we acknowledge and include the Right To Life as an important aspect of our mission representing the Vincentian Family at the United Nations.

From both Scriptures and Sacred Tradition, we believe that, Jesus The Incarnate Word, along with The Holy Family were forced to flee to Egypt or face death along with the other Holy Innocents. So, if we truly consider ourselves advocates for Justice and human rights we must be outspoken on behalf of not only people living in poverty but also advocate for children living in the womb.

I’d also like to mention that just a few days ago we celebrated the feast day of Saint Catherine Laboure, DC. She truly is an outstanding example of holiness and dedication in her service to Our Lord.  Saint Catherine is important not only as member of the Vincentian Family, but also important to the Universal Church. As a young girl she had a vision of Saint Vincent de Paul (at the time didn’t recognize him) who suggested and recommended that when she matured she serve as a religious.

A number of years later in 1830, as a young novice, about 24 years of age, Our Blessed Mother Mary appeared to her at the Daughters of Charity Mother House in Paris. As we know Our Blessed Mother Manifested to her the immaculate Medal, commonly known as the Miraculous Medal.  After these miraculous appearances Saint Catherine, for about 40 years, lived and worked in humility without recognition or notoriety among the other members of her community serving people in need.  Before her death millions of these medals had been distributed. She is considered the first saint of the Marian Age. It wasn’t until 1854 that the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception was proclaimed.  And four years later Our Lady subsequently appeared to Saint Bernadette at Lourdes as a confirmation of the Dogma. We are currently celebrating the novena in anticipation of the commemoration of the great feast day of the Immaculate Conception which is celebrated on December 8th. This feast day is celebrated as a special day by the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul as well as many members of the Vincentian Family. Also in many countries around the world the feast of the Immaculate Conception it is celebrated as a Holy Day of Obligation.

Saint Catherine is just one of the many great saints that are part of the Vincentian Family. Over one million members of the Vincentian Family are currently serving people around the world. Personally, I feel honored and privileged to be serving as part of this great Vincentian Family.

Ed Keane is the UN NGO Representative for the International Society of St. Vincent de Paul

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