Rights Imply Duties, Pope Tells Catholic International Groups

Papal Message Points to a Factor in World Peace

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Harmony among peoples will spread when the link between "human rights" and "human duties" is appreciated, John Paul II says in a message to the Conference of International Catholic Organizations.



The topic chosen for CICO's 35th general assembly, being held in Rome all this week, is "Make Human Society More Humane: Gospel Values Leading from Violence to Compassion."

Conference members include Caritas Internationalis, the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, the International Federation of Catholic Pharmacists, the International Federation of Catholic Universities, SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication, and the International Catholic Union of the Press.

In his message, published Tuesday by the Vatican press office, the Holy Father said he believes that international Catholic organizations "can take an ever more active role in building an authentic worldwide culture of peace."

"An important aspect of this task is increasing the awareness that human rights are necessarily accompanied by corresponding human duties," John Paul II said.

"The Gospel, in fact, clearly teaches that we have an unmistakable responsibility toward others -- toward God, first and foremost, and toward our fellow men and women," he continued.

"The more this awareness grows and people throughout the world recognize and accept their obligations with regard to others, the more will the cause of harmony among peoples be served," the Holy Father added. "This is the sure foundation upon which a true and lasting peace can be built."

The Pope has encouraged CICO to review the statutes of its organizations "in the light of the Code of Canon Law, making whatever amendments may be necessary to ensure that a true spirit of willing service to the universal Church will ever prevail within your ranks."

Recognized by the Holy See since 1957, CICO offers 40 international Catholic organizations -- which embrace more than 150 million lay members -- a venue for agreements and coordination of activities. The organizations are primarily dedicated to addressing human challenges in the political, economic, social, cultural and spiritual areas.

Attending the general assembly are 36 members with a right to vote. Four associated organizations and four guest organizations participate in the discussions.