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New Vatican foreign minister remembers a quiet champion of human rights

2015-02-24

The Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, made one of his first public appearances to praise a little-known champion of human rights.

For more than 30 years, Giorgio Filibeck worked as an official at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. He was a leader in human rights and humanatarian law at the Holy See.

Filibeck died in 2004. Tommaso di Ruzza was his immediate succesor, and he quickly came to realize how important Filibeck's work was.

TOMMASO DI RUZZA
Director, Vatican Financial Intelligence Authority
"Day by day, month by month, year by year, discovering the contribution he gave to the Holy See and to the Church. Stressing, he started in 1969, that human rights must be part of the evangelization of the society, but at the same time with a clear idea of the concept of human dignity and human person.”

Inspired by his predecessor's work, di Ruzza worked with others who knew Filibeck to compile a book about him. Some of Europe and the Vatican's top officials contributed chapters.

TOMMASO DI RUZZA
Director, Vatican Financial Intelligence Authority
"The contributions try to paint two profiles of Giorgio Filibeck: the man, the person. And the jurist. It is a profile of a skilled,  professional person serving the Church in the field of human rights.”

Filibeck is not famous, though he authored seminal documents about human rights for the Church. He also edited a book that included every  statement a Pope made about human rights, from Pope Paul XXIII to John Paul II. 

The book's editor hopes that people who have never heard of Filibeck may also be inspired by the man's respectable body of work.

And what lesson does di Ruzza hope readers take from the book?

TOMMASO DI RUZZA
Director, Vatican Financial Intelligence Authority
"This is the teaching in this particular field of Giorgio Filibeck: Accepting the challenges, but with a clear idea of identity. Open eyes, open heart.”

Vice president of the European Court of Human Rights Guido Raimondi also spoke at the book's launch event.


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