04/30/2008, 00.00
VATICAN

Justice is the basis of peace and respect for human rights, says Pope

In today’s general audience Benedict XVI refers to his visit to the United States. He reiterates the Church’s commitment to an international order based on the principle of responsibility and solidarity. He mentions the United States’ “healthy secularism”, saying that “religious freedom must always be defended, avoiding all forms of discrimination and prejudice”.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The dignity of every human being created by God in his image and likeness is the ultimate foundation for the respect of human rights which like peace “are based on justice and the famous principle ‘Do not do unto others as you would expect they should not do unto you.” It is to the principle of responsibility and solidarity in international relations which the Church promotes that Benedict XVI referred to at the United Nations on 18 April and which he mentioned and “renewed” today.

The Pope talked about his apostolic trip to the United States and his visit to the United Nations in his address to the 30,000 people who had gathered in St Peter’s Square for the general audience, which was enlivened by the sounds of a musical band from Germany, two from Italy, and one, much appreciated, from Mexico.

In going over the events of the trip, the Pope talked about his meeting with US President George W. Bush on 16 April as an opportunity to “pay tribute to that great country” which he called “a valid example of healthy secularism where the religious dimension in the diversity of its experiences is not only tolerated but valued as the soul of the nation and the fundamental guarantee of the rights and duties of man.”

In that context the Church can devote itself to the work of evangelisation and of human promotion but also act “as a critical conscience, contributing to the building of a society worthy of human beings, pushing a country like the United States, that all view as one of the main players on the international scene, in the direction of global solidarity, increasingly necessary and urgent, and of the patient practice of dialogue in international relations.”

In his meeting US bishops and priests the Pope offered support “for their tough task of sowing the seeds of the Gospel in a society marked by many contradictions that threaten the coherence of the Catholic community and clergy.” In doing so he again defended the family and the sacrament of marriage “within the natural framework in which children can be welcomed and educated”. He also stressed the importance of a sound education for young people.

On this issue the Pope spoke of the “challenge” posed by education, something “which is a task and an integral part of the Church’s mission”, further noting that Catholic institutions have to teach how “to bring together faith, reason, freedom and truth.”

In talking to the bishops, he said today, he raised the ‘painful issue of sexual abuse of minors by ordained ministers”. I told the bishops to tend the wounds and take care of the relations with the priests.

The inter-faith meetings, especially the one in the New York synagogue, were “very cordial moments’ of “shared commitment to dialogue and the promotion of peace and spiritual values”.

These moments gave the Pope the opportunity to stress that “religious freedom must always be defended, avoiding all forms of discrimination and prejudice”, something which also highlights the ‘responsibility of religious leaders.”

As for his speech at the United Nations on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Pope said that ‘its main goal’ was to confirm the declaration’s value, “underscoring its universal foundation, which is the dignity of every human being created by God in his image and likeness in order to cooperate in the great design of life and peace.”

Indeed “like peace, the respect for human rights is based on justice, that is on an ethical order valid for al times and all peoples that is best encapsulated by the famous principle ‘Do not do unto others as you would expect they should not do unto you” or, in positive terms, “Do unto others as you would expect they should do unto you”.

The Pope’s last thought went to the “silence of the chasm of Ground Zero,” where he prayed “for all the victims of that terrible tragedy.”

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