Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 15, 2008
Human rights based on will of the Creator – pope
Rights: Cardinal says they are all equal
BY CAROL GLATZ
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VATICAN CITY - The foundation upon which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is based will remain fragile if its ethical and divine origins are ignored, said Pope Benedict.
While much has been done over the past decades to promote and safeguard human rights around the world, "hundreds of millions of our brothers and sisters still see their rights to life, liberty, and security threatened," he said.
The pope made his comments Dec. 10 during a Vatican celebration of the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the universal declaration by the United Nations General Assembly.
The pope said fundamental human rights are based on natural law, which is inscribed by God in every human conscience. Because natural law is "a common denominator" in all cultures and peoples, it is "a universal guide that everyone can recognize" and understand.
Human rights ultimately come from God, the creator, who gave everyone reason and freedom, he said.
"If this solid ethical base is disregarded, human rights remain fragile because they are deprived of a solid foundation," he said.
Also speaking at the event, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, said none of the fundamental human rights outlined in the UN declaration are more important than any other.
Each right reflects and is linked to the others, he said.
The Church's insistence on the importance of the right to life and right to religious freedom does not stem from a desire to create different classes of human rights, Bertone said.
But receiving the gift of life and being able to praise and worship the creator of life are rights that underpin all other basic rights and do not make subsequent rights inferior, he explained.
When the rights to life and religious freedom are violated, "respect for the other rights wavers," Bertone said.