Spokesman: Pope to Talk of Human Rights at UN

Benedict XVI's Visit Marks 60th Anniversary of Universal Declaration

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By Jesús Colina



VATICAN CITY, APRIL 8, 2008 (Zenit.org).- In his visit to the United Nations in New York, Benedict XVI is expected to talk about the basis of human rights, according to a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, offered details about the Pope's visit to the offices of the international organization, where he was invited by the past and current U.N. secretaries-general.

The Holy Father's visit to the United Nations, which will take place in the morning of Friday, April 18, and last three hours, will mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

According to a briefing by Father Lombardi, "It can be expected that the discourse will be centered on the theme of the rights of man, of the basis, the unity and the indivisible character [of these rights]. These are topics very close to the heart of Benedict XVI."

Upon arriving to the United Nations from Washington, the Pope will receive an official welcome and then head to the 38th floor for a private meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Then he will go to the general assembly room to deliver an address, which will be heard by some 3,000 people, representatives of the 192 member-states, Father Lombardi explained.

Afterward, the Holy Father will greet representatives of the delegations, and have private meetings with the president of the assembly, the president of the Security Council, and 60 U.N. officials. Meanwhile, the 3,000 who heard the Pope's address will leave their spots so that 3,000 U.N. workers can enter the assembly room, where the Pontiff will address them.

At the end, Benedict XVI will visit the Meditation Room, in which Popes Paul VI and John Paul II also stopped to spend time in silence.

The Holy See has the status of permanent observer at the United Nations.

This status gives it the right to participate in the general debate of the General Assembly; the right of reply; the right to have its communications issued and circulated directly as official documents of the assembly; and the right to co-sponsor draft resolutions and decisions that make reference to the Holy See.

In New York, the Holy Father will stay in the residence of the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations, Italian Archbishop Celestino Migliore.