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Human Rights Are Bases for Peace, Says Benedict XVI

In a Message to UNESCO

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 2, 2005 (Zenit.org).- In a message to participants in a UNESCO homage to Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI said that peace must be founded on respect for human rights.

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization commemorated today in Paris the 25th anniversary of John Paul II’s visit, with a colloquium entitled “Culture, Reason and Freedom.”

Benedict XVI’s message, which was transmitted to the participants by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, highlighted the right of all, especially the poor, to education and culture.

After greeting Koichiro Matsuura, director general of UNESCO, the Pope said in his message that his predecessor underlined “as a result of his personal and cultural experience … man’s central and irreplaceable place, as well as his fundamental dignity, source of his inalienable rights.”

Benedict XVI took up John Paul II’s cultural legacy with this recommendation to UNESCO’s members: “Build peace beginning with the foundations: respect of all the rights of man, both those connected to his material and economic dimension as well as those connected to the spiritual and interior dimension of his existence in this world.”

Permanent challenge

The Holy Father also explained the reasons why the Holy See is a permanent observer to UNESCO, an institution that should be seen as an “Areopagus of intelligences and consciences.”

“The permanent challenge of the Church is to proclaim the liberating novelty of the Gospel to every man, to measure up to him in everything that makes up his existence and expresses his humanity,” he explained.

“This mission, received by the Church from her Lord, affects fundamentally your plan and amply justifies the fact that the Holy See has always desired, with the presence of its permanent observer, to participate in your reflection and commitment,” the Pope said.

The Catholic Church will continue “to mobilize her own forces, which above all are of a spiritual nature, to collaborate in the good of man in all the dimensions of his being,” he added.

Benedict XVI continued: “In a world at once multiple and divided and often subjected to the strong demands of the globalization of economic relations and, even more so, of information, it is absolutely necessary to mobilize the energies of intelligence to have the right of human beings to education and culture recognized everywhere, especially in the poorest countries.”

A new world

In this endeavor, the Church must show “in an ever more profound way, the relationship that unites each person with the Creator of all life, foundation of the inalienable dignity of the human being, from conception until natural death,” the Pope said.

The colloquium’s sessions were presided over by Joseph Maila, rector of the Institut Catholique of Paris, and by Monsignor Francesco Follo, permanent observer of the Holy See to UNESCO.

The monsignor explained that John Paul II during his visit had delivered an address to UNESCO in which he “showed that it is possible to build a new world in which development and the economy have a human face and in which the rights of man and international law are governed by the logic of charity and solidarity.”

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