Human Rights Not Negotiable, Says Holy See

Urges Stronger Vision of the Person

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WARSAW, Poland, OCT. 18, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Human rights must be founded on a strong vision of the person, or else they will degenerate into rights that apply to some, and are negotiable for others, said the Holy See.



Monsignor Anthony Frontiero, an official of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, represented the Holy See at the annual meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), on "Human Dimension Implementation." The meeting took place Sept. 24-Oct. 5.

On Sept. 25, in his address on tolerance and nondiscrimination, Monsignor Frontiero said: "The delegation of the Holy See continues to be concerned with the all-too-often and flagrant violations against the right to freedom of religion throughout the OSCE region.

"In his message for the celebration of the 2007 World Day of Peace, Pope Benedict XVI recalled the urgent need, even within the framework of current international difficulties and tensions, for a commitment to a human ecology that favors the promotion of mutual respect and understanding among peoples, which is a key to ending intolerance and discrimination, and, ultimately to peaceful coexistence.

"Such a commitment must be guided by a vision of the person untainted by ideological and cultural prejudices or by political and economic interests, which can often instill hatred and violence."

Ideological divide

Monsignor Frontiero continued: "Peaceful coexistence among people is not only threatened by the conflicts between ideologies, but also by indifference as to what constitutes man's true nature.

"Many in contemporary society actually deny the existence of a specific human nature, which only adds to confusion and, in many cases, hinders authentic dialogue.

"Clarity in this regard is needed so that a weak vision of the person will not open the door to authoritarian impositions and leave people defenseless and easy targets for oppression and violence."

The monsignor asked, "Relativistic notions of what it means to be a person offer insufficient justification and defense of human rights; because if rights are absolute, how can they be founded on a notion that is merely relative?"

He added: "Human rights, therefore, must be grounded in the objective requirements of human nature. Otherwise, in some cases the human person is marked by a permanent dignity, and rights that are always and everywhere valid; in other cases a person may not have a permanent dignity, and negotiable rights.

"This state of affairs is what we witness everyday in acts of intolerance and discrimination.

"Without a clear and strong awareness of who we are as persons, it will always be easier to claim that some people are worthy of respect and others are not; some people have the right to life, liberty, and religious belief, and others do not."

"Yet," Monsignor Frontiero concluded, "the task at hand is not simply to condemn actual injustices in the light of an adequately understood concept of the human person and human dignity, but to work together for a meaningful new future."