U.N. Urged to Rediscover Right to Life, in Wake of Sept. 11

Vatican Aide Addresses General Assembly

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ROME, OCT. 12, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The Sept. 11 tragedy should lead to reinforcing the original and essential role of the United Nations, which must be at the service of life, a Vatican aide told the General Assembly this week.

The terrorist attacks on the United States «have also forced us to address, once again, one of the fundamental elements of the work of the United Nations: the recognition of human dignity, the right to life, and the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms,» said the Vatican´s U.N. permanent observer, Archbishop Renato Martino.

The archbishop on Tuesday addressed the third commission of the U.N. General Assembly, which focused on social development.

«It is horrible that just when the world is beginning to take positive steps for prolonging the life of individuals, veneration and respect for it are lost,» Archbishop Martino lamented. «It seems impossible to believe that euthanasia has become an acceptable alternative in some places.»

«For many older persons, such changes in legislation or medical practice, or the threat of those changes, have become a new source of fear and anxiety and can indeed weaken the fundamental relationship of unconditional trust which they have a right to place in those whose mission is to care for them,» he continued.

The Vatican aide emphasized that the international community´s commitment to the defense of life, from conception until natural death, calls for defense of the family.

«Today, in the face of conflict, poverty, demographic change and especially the HIV/AIDS pandemic, it becomes easier and necessary to realize the important function of the family,» he stressed. «It is the family that helps to hold society together.»

Archbishop Martino had words of encouragement for the handicapped, recalling John Paul II´s appeal to governments to endeavor to guarantee conditions of life and opportunities for them, so that their «dignity is effectively recognized and protected.»

Lastly, the archbishop explained that «human beings are at the center of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.»

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