VATICAN CITY, DEC. 10, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today at a concert held in Paul VI hall to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
* * *
Illustrious Gentlemen and Kind Ladies,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
I address my cordial greetings to the authorities present, in particular to the president of the Italian Republic, to the other Italian authorities, to the grand master of the Order of Malta and to all of you who took part in this evening’s event dedicated to listening to classical music, interpreted by the Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester of Frankfurt, directed for the occasion by Maestro Mrs. Inma Shara. To her and to the musicians I wish to express the common appreciation for the talent and effectiveness with which they interpreted these thought-provoking musical passages.
I thank the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the St. Matthew Foundation in Memory of Cardinal Francois Xavier Van Thuan for having promoted the concert, which was preceded by the commemorative ceremony for the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by the bestowal of the Cardinal Van Thuan prize on Mr. Cornelio Sommaruga, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the awarding of the prizes “Solidarity and Development” to Father Pedro Opeka, missionary in Madagascar; Father Jose Raul Matte, missionary among lepers of Amazonia; to the recipients of the Gulunap Project, for the realization of a Faculty of Medicine in Northern Uganda; and to those responsible for the Village of the Ercolini project, for the integration of Rom infants and children in Rome.
My kind thoughts go also to all those who have collaborated in the realization of the concert and to RAI, which broadcast it, prolonging, so to speak, the “seat” of those who were unable to benefit from it.
Some 60 years ago, on Dec. 10, the U.N. General Assembly, meeting in Paris, adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which still today constitutes a very high point of reference in the intercultural dialogue on liberty and the rights of man. The dignity of every man, really guaranteed only when all his fundamental rights are recognized, protected and promoted. The Church has always confirmed that the fundamental rights, beyond the different formulations and the different weight they might carry in the realm of the different cultures, are a universal fact, because they are inscribed in the very nature of man. The natural law, written by God in the human conscience, is a common denominator for all men and for all peoples; a universal guide that all can know and on the basis of which all can understand one another. The rights of man are, therefore, ultimately founded in God the Creator, who has given each one the intelligence and freedom. If one ignores this solid ethical base, human rights remain fragile because deprived of a solid foundation.
The celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Declaration constitutes therefore an occasion to verify in what measure the ideals, accepted by the greater part of the community of Nations in 1948, are respected today in the different national legislations and, even more so, in the conscience of individuals and of the collectivity. Undoubtedly, a long road has already been traveled, but a long track remains to be completed: Hundreds of millions of our brothers and sisters still see their rights to life, liberty, and security threatened; the equality of all and the dignity of each is not always respected, while new barriers are raised for reasons linked to race, religion, political opinions or other convictions. The common effort to promote and better define the rights of man, therefore, does not cease, and the effort is intensified to guarantee this respect. I support these good wishes with the prayer that God, Father of all men, will enable us to build a world where every human being feels accepted with full dignity, and where relations between individuals and peoples are governed by respect, dialogue and solidarity. My Blessings for all.[Translation by ZENIT]