Respond to Violence With Respect, Says Holy See

Archbishop Chullikatt Affirms Need to Uphold Human Rights of All

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NEW YORK, NOV. 4, 2010 ( The correct response to a terrorist attack, such as the one on a Church in Baghdad that left 52 people dead, is to uphold the rights and fundamental freedoms of every human person, says the Holy See.

Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, permanent observer of the Holy See, said this Wednesday when he addressed the U.N. General Assembly on the topic of the report of the Human Rights Council. He revealed in his address that he knew several of the victims, including two priest-friends, who died in the attack Sunday on the Syrian Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad, Our Lady of Deliverance.

«The response to this latest example of brutal attacks against Christians, in total contempt for their lives and their dignity, needs to be a complete respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of every individual,» he affirmed.

The archbishop said that in order to recognize the dignity of each and every person, one must have a full respect for the «inner and transcendent dimension of the human person,» which is at the core of what it means to be a human being.

«Through the free exercise of conscience and moral decision making, human beings are able to transform themselves into living members of social life whose good will, charity and hope promote the dignity and well-being of every member of the human family,» he added.

Archbishop Chullikatt stated that it is through this freedom of conscience that people are able to experience freedom of religion, and thus pursue their most important relationship, their relationship with God. The freedom of religion, he explains, allows the individual to ascribe to a certain set of beliefs, accept or change one’s religion and to practice their faith openly and in public to its fullest potential.

He explained that it is the governments’ responsibility to uphold and protect these inalienable rights: «Since the state is not the author of any fundamental human right, it must respect that intimate and fundamental sanctuary of human freedom, the conscience, and to allow each conscience its fullest and highest expression in the free exercise of religious faith.»

The archbishop referenced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which reaffirms the message that governments must assume the responsibility to guarantee and promote for such freedoms.

«Like every other freedom, the freedom of religion must fit harmoniously into the context of all legitimate and authentic human freedoms,» he said. «This vital freedom must also develop harmoniously with attentive respect for freedom of religion of others in context of just laws that apply to all.»


Not only is it up to the government to defend freedoms, said Archbishop Chullikatt, but it is also the responsibility of individuals and their community to promote tolerance and acceptance and respect.

«Education, especially of young people, is important in promoting such a culture of peaceful coexistence, with parents having the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of their child,» he said.

Even though these rights are «secured by international instruments,» they are often compromised by the will of the state, the prelate continued. «In this regard, parents must be fully respected in their freedom to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity of their own values.»

The archbishop also touched on the issue of marriage and the family and the public’s recent attempt to redefine it: «We know that a man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children, form a family which is the natural and fundamental unit of society.»

He went on to say that «the institution of marriage is prior to any recognition by public authority» and government has the obligation to recognize and uphold it. It is within the family unit that the child first learns moral values and how to honor God, he said.

«Any attempt to create a division between the primary responsibility of parents and the best interests of their children,» the archbishop continued, «does a disservice to the child, the parents, the marriage and the family as well as to the future generation overall.»

«Human rights are based on the inherent dignity of the human person, and these inalienable rights are founded in the natural moral order,» the archbishop concluded. «My delegation must be candid: Human rights do not change any more than human nature can change.»

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