Benedict XVI Extols 2 Rights as Keys to Peace
Emphasized Life and Religious Liberty in a World-Day Message
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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has highlighted the right to life and the right to religious freedom as guarantees for peace -- if they are respected.
The Pope explains this in his message for World Day of Peace 2007, which the Church will observe Jan. 1 with the theme "The Human Person, Heart of Peace."
Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, presented the papal message today in the Vatican press office.
In his message the Holy Father says that he wrote the document "out of concern for children, especially those whose future is compromised by exploitation and the malice of unscrupulous adults."
"The duty to respect the dignity of each human being, in whose nature the image of the Creator is reflected, means in consequence that the person cannot be disposed of at will," states Benedict XVI. "Those with greater political, technical or economic power may not use that power to violate the rights of others who are less fortunate."
Given that "[p]eace is based on respect for the rights of all," the Pontiff clarifies that "the Church champions the fundamental rights of each person."
"In particular, she promotes and defends respect for the life and the religious freedom of everyone," he notes. "Respect for the right to life at every stage firmly establishes a principle of decisive importance: life is a gift which is not completely at the disposal of the subject."
Not subject to man
Similarly, Benedict XVI adds, "the affirmation of the right to religious freedom places the human being in a relationship with a transcendent principle which withdraws him from human caprice."
"The right to life and to the free expression of personal faith in God is not subject to the power of man," he specifies.
Addressing the present situation of the right to life, the Pope denounces "its widespread violation in our society: alongside the victims of armed conflicts, terrorism and the different forms of violence, there are silent deaths caused by hunger, abortion, experimentations on human embryos and euthanasia."
"How can we fail to see in all this an attack on peace?" asks the Pontiff. "Abortion and embryonic experimentation constitute a direct denial of that attitude of acceptance of others which is indispensable for establishing lasting relationships of peace."
In the lack of freedom to express personal faith, Benedict XVI sees a "disturbing symptom of lack of peace in the world," manifested in "the difficulties that both Christians and the followers of other religions frequently encounter in publicly and freely professing their religious convictions."
Speaking of Christians in particular, the papal message points out "with pain that not only are they at times prevented from doing so; in some States they are actually persecuted, and even recently tragic cases of ferocious violence have been recorded."
"There are regimes that impose a single religion upon everyone, while secular regimes often lead not so much to violent persecution as to systematic cultural denigration of religious beliefs," he laments. "This can only promote a mentality and culture that is not conducive to peace."