The Pope stated this today upon receiving in audience members of the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The bureau consists several assembly leaders such as the president, 20 vice-presidents, and chairpersons of the political groups and various committees.
They met with the Pontiff in honor of the 60th anniversary of the 1950 signing in Rome of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"Keeping in mind the context of today's society in which different peoples and cultures come together," the Pope said, "it is imperative to develop the universal validity of these rights as well as their inviolability, inalienability and indivisibility."
"On different occasions I have pointed out the risks associated with relativism in the area of values, rights and duties," the Holy Father noted.
He continued: "If these were to lack an objective rational foundation, common to all peoples, and were based exclusively on particular cultures, legislative decisions or court judgments, how could they offer a solid and long-lasting ground for supranational institutions such as the Council of Europe, and for your own task within that prestigious institution?
"How could a fruitful dialogue among cultures take place without common values, rights and stable, universal principles understood in the same way by all members States of the Council of Europe?"
Benedict XVI stated that "these values, rights and duties are rooted in the natural dignity of each person, something which is accessible to human reasoning."
He added that "the Christian faith does not impede, but favors this search, and is an invitation to seek a supernatural basis for this dignity."
The Pope said, "I am convinced that these principles, faithfully maintained, above all when dealing with human life, from conception to natural death, with marriage -- rooted in the exclusive and indissoluble gift of self between one man and one woman -- and freedom of religion and education, are necessary conditions if we are to respond adequately to the decisive and urgent challenges that history presents to each one of you."
The Pontiff concluded by encouraging the bureau members to "fulfill your sensitive and important mission with moderation, wisdom and courage at the service of the common good of Europe."
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