No Development Without Respect for Human Dignity, Vatican Says at U.N.

Archbishop Martino Appeals for Recognition of Cultural Differences

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NEW YORK, OCT. 24, 2002 ( Development policies must be based on the “recognition of human dignity” and respect for “cultural differences,” the Vatican said at the United Nations.

This appeal was made by Archbishop Renato Martino, head of the observer delegation of the Holy See to the United Nations, during a debate on “Culture and Development.”

He said programs for the struggle against poverty “must be based upon the recognition of the human dignity, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and respect for cultural differences and uniqueness.”

“That foundational understanding then leads to the human solidarity that promotes social cohesion and deeper appreciation of the common heritage of humanity,” the archbishop added in his address Oct. 17.

“Only God’s love, capable of making the men and women of every race and culture into brothers and sisters, can make painful divisions, ideological contrasts, economic disparities and the violent abuses that still oppress mankind, disappear,” the Vatican representative said, quoting John Paul II’s Message for World Mission Day, observed last Sunday.

“This echoes the statement made by the Holy See during the recent World Summit on Sustainable Development,” the archbishop said. “The fact that the earth and all its resources are part of the common heritage of all humanity creates the understanding which fosters interdependence, stresses responsibility and underlines the importance of the principle of global solidarity.”

“This reality becomes the foundation of sustainable development by directing the moral imperatives of justice, international cooperation, peace, security and the desire to enhance the spiritual and material well-being of present and future generations,” he continued.

“These are not just good ideas or best wishes for the future,” the archbishop stressed. “Nor can they be seen as only the responsibility of one group, organization or agency. Nor can the discussion center around only protecting culture from those principles of development that may impact upon it.”

“Instead the discussion must focus on finding the means to allow culture to complement development as development must complement culture,” he explained.

The archbishop made his proposal in the framework of the new world scene. Quoting the Holy Father again, he said: “The reprehensible terrorist attacks of 11 September last, and the many preoccupying situations of injustice throughout the world, remind us that the millennium just begun presents great challenges.

“It calls for a resolute and uncompromising commitment on the part of individuals, peoples and nations to defend the inalienable rights and dignity of every member of the human family. At the same time, it demands the building of a global culture of solidarity which will find expression not simply in terms of more effective economic or political organization but more importantly in a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation in the service of the common good.”

“My delegation hears again and again that the world is dramatically changed,” Archbishop Martino added. “It has indeed changed. But the basic good, human dignity, dreams and aspirations continue to drive the people of the world, especially those searching for a better life for themselves and future generations.”

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