“The Holy See reaffirms the key role of art, culture, and religions in building bridges, creating relations, fostering integral human development, and avoiding the culture of waste and exclusion.,” according to Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva.
His statement came on March 1, 2018, at the 37th Session of the Human Rights Council Item 3 – Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights in Geneva.
“My Delegation takes note of the Report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, which contribute undeniably to the enjoyment of human rights because of their capacity to facilitate social cohesion, counter intolerable ideologies, promote reconciliation in post-conflict scenarios, and achieve human development,” the archbishop said.
Following is the archbishop’s statement
My Delegation takes note of the Report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, which contribute undeniably to the enjoyment of human rights because of their capacity to facilitate social cohesion, counter intolerable ideologies, promote reconciliation in post-conflict scenarios, and achieve human development.
In fact, culture creates relations among different peoples and worldviews. Culture could be seen itself as a relation among peoples and their past and future development. As Pope Francis said: “There is a need to respect the rights of peoples and cultures, and to appreciate that the development of a social group presupposes a historical process which takes place within a cultural context and demands the constant and active involvement of local people from within their proper culture”.1 Cultural processes generate critical thinking which fosters dialogue, listening, mutual understanding and tolerance.
Education, the fourth of the Sustainable Development Goals, is where culture and knowledge are handed down to new generations. The knowledge acquired through the educational process is culture itself; hence, education contributes to the full development of cultural identity. The educational community, in particular schools and universities, can be the space for a true experience of intercultural relationship; this is an opportunity to foster quality in education. Respect for cultural identity and freedom of thought, conscience, and religion are inextricably linked. Furthermore, culture includes those values, beliefs, convictions, languages, knowledge and the arts, traditions, institutions, and ways of life through which a person or a group expresses their humanity, interpersonal relations and the meanings that they give to their existence and to their development. Religion too is an essential dimension of culture. Indeed, the distinction between State and Religion is of central importance. Finding the proper balance in the relationship of religion and state, as is necessary for the common good of any society, requires that the security of the state and its peoples not be threatened by religious fundamentalism, nor that religion be diminished by secularism. As Pope Benedict XVI said: “religious fundamentalism and secularism are alike in that both represent extreme forms of a rejection of legitimate pluralism and the principle of secularity”. 2
Within this favorable context of cultural pluralism – where institutions, associations and religious communities act together as cultural and social mediators – the integration of migrants and refugees could really take place in a “two-way process”3. The mutual respect of identities, cultural values and religious believes create the humus for the creation of inclusive societies, where relationship includes every cultural dimension, as Pope Francis said: “The condition for building inclusive societies is the integral comprehension of the human person, who can feel himself or herself truly accepted when recognized and accepted in all the dimensions that constitute his or her identity, including the religious dimension”. 4
As stated in the Report of the Special Rapporteur, it is necessary to create opportunities for cultural and artistic exchange within conflict-scarred countries5 and to build cooperation between educational systems and cultural organizations 6.
The Holy See reaffirms the key role of art, culture, and religions in building bridges, creating relations, fostering integral human development, and avoiding the culture of waste and exclusion.
I thank you, Mr. President.
1 Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato Sì, 144.
2 Pope Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Peace, Religious Freedom, The Path to Peace, 1 January 2011.
3 Pope Francis, Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 8 January 2018.
5 A/HRC/37/55. Report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, 86, Recommendation h.
6 Ibidem. Recommendation i.
Copyright © 2017 Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, All rights reserved.