Holy See: U.N. Must Remember Human Dignity

Says Terrorist Attacks Have Led Some to Relativize Values

NEW YORK, OCT. 1, 2007 (Zenit.org).- States need to renew their pursuit of the objectives for which the United Nations was founded, the Holy See says.

Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states at the Vatican Secretariat of State, said this today when addressing the 62nd session of the U.N. General Assembly.

Mentioning the renovations going on at U.N. headquarters, the archbishop said, “Such material renovation seems an appropriate reminder for states of the need to be constantly renewed in the pursuit of the great objectives that inspired the creation of the organization of the United Nations.”

In an overview of some of the world’s main challenges, Archbishop Mamberti spoke to the assembly of the lack of respect for human dignity.

“Respect for human dignity, therefore, is the deepest ethical foundation in the search for peace and in the building up of international relations corresponding to the authentic needs and hopes of all the peoples of the earth,” he said. “Forgetting, or partially and selectively accepting, the above principle is what lies at the origin of conflicts, of environmental degradation and of social and economic injustices.”

Noting that the terrorist attacks of the beginning of this century have resulted in certain “pessimistic visions of humanity,” the archbishop said that some people respond by “relativizing further the values essentially tied to human dignity — in particular the universal rights to life and to religious freedom.”

“Today,” he said, “the right to religious freedom continues to be disregarded and even violated in certain places. Such violation has become a pretext for various other forms of discrimination.”


Archbishop Mamberti mentioned parts of the world plagued by conflict, including Darfur, Myanmar and the Middle East.

Finally, he spoke of human rights.

The prelate said: “We are approaching the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, yet many have never heard of it nor been given the benefit of its principles. These rights are not based on the mere will of human beings, nor in the reality of the state, nor in public powers, but rather are grounded in the objective requirements of the nature bestowed on man.

“The most important part of our work in this context is to ensure that the inherent right to life is respected everywhere. This fundamental right must be protected from conception until natural death.

“Therefore, we must work to stop and reverse the culture of death embraced by some social and legal structures that try to make the suppression of life acceptable by disguising it as a medical or social service.

“In this sense, the abolition of the death penalty should also be seen as a consequence of full respect for the right to life.”

Archbishop Mamberti noted that positive results have been achieved in the work for equality of men and women. He called for continuing progress in defending the rights of children and migrants.

“We must continue to ensure that peace and security, development and human rights are effectively combined and mutually reinforcing, in order to show the international community that the renovation of this headquarters is not only physical, but also a renewal of the organization’s ideals and intentions,” the archbishop concluded. “A renewal that reaches into the deepest corners of this organization is one in which all nations of the world will rightly take pride.”

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