Holy See: Realism Is Base of Human Rights

Archbishop Addresses UN on Universal Declaration

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GENEVA, Switzerland, DEC. 17, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Defense of human rights must be based in an objective knowledge of human nature, lest terminology be reinterpreted at the service of private desires or ideologies, says a Holy See representative.



Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva, affirmed this on Friday in an address commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"With this document," he said, "human dignity finally is recognized as the essential value on which rests an international order that is truly peaceful and sustainable."

He affirmed the sense of "unity, solidarity and responsibility that led the United Nations to proclaim universal human rights as a response to all persons and peoples weighed down by the violation of their dignity, a task that even today challenges us."

The archbishop noted that "human rights are at risk if not rooted on the ethical foundation of our common humanity as created by God who has given everyone the gifts of intelligence and freedom."

The Holy See representative affirmed the "centrality of human rights and the role of the United Nations organization in upholding this common patrimony of the human family."

He acknowledged the various political and economic systems that have developed through diverse cultures, but pointed out that the universal nature of man must be valued above all these pluralistic expressions of freedom.

Archbishop Tomasi asserted: "A healthy realism, therefore, is the foundation of human rights, that is, the acknowledgement of what is real and inscribed in the human person and in creation.

"When a breach is caused between what is claimed and what is real through the search of so-called new human rights, a risk emerges to reinterpret the accepted human rights vocabulary to promote mere desires and measures that, in turn, become a source of discrimination and injustice and the fruit of self-serving ideologies.

"By speaking of the right to life, of respect for the family, of marriage as the union between a man and a woman, of freedom of religion and conscience, of the limits of the authority of the state before fundamental values and rights, nothing new or revolutionary is said and both the letter and the spirit of the declaration are upheld, and coherence with the nature of things and the common good of society is preserved."

The archbishop turned his focus to the implementation of the declaration, mentioning the "long road to walk and the duty to eliminate every discrimination so that all persons can enjoy their inherent equal dignity."

To this end, he made particular mention of the need to build up the family as the "the first 'agency' of protection and promotion of human dignity and fundamental rights."

He concluded, "[H]uman rights are not just entitlement to privileges. They are rather the expression and the fruit of what is noblest in the human spirit: dignity, aspiration to freedom and justice, search for what is good, and the practice of solidarity."

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-24598?l=english