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In this short essay, I seek to provide a description of the way the rights framework, by its nature, functions to unify global practice around normative ideals. I then outline obstacles, both theoretical and practical, to the effective functioning of this framework and the advancement of its purpose. Next, I lay out and critique the means that the Church, in its official teaching, proposes for overcoming these obstacles. I conclude by sketching briefly what I understand to be a more adequate program for addressing the impediments that exist to the realization of the aspiration of universal respect for human dignity that underlies the Catholic endorsement of the United Nations Universal Declaration. The outline I offer speaks directly to the longer-term ongoing implementation of international human rights guarantees and indirectly to the Church's choice of its mode of advocating human rights in the global arena.



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