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Holy See Address to U.N. General Assembly

10/4/2007 - 6:15 AM PST

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"We Must Reaffirm a 'Yes' to Human Dignity"


NEW YORK, OCT. 4, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is the address Archbishop Dominique Mamberti gave today to the general assembly at the United Nations.

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Address by H.E. Archbishop Dominique Mamberti
Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States

General Debate of the
62nd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

New York, 1 October 2007

Mr. President,

The Holy See takes this opportunity to congratulate you on your election and looks forward to working with you. At the same time, it is my pleasure to greet the secretary-general, His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon, and wish him well at his first full session of the General Assembly.

Less than a year ago, the General Assembly approved the project to renovate this U.N. Headquarters. Such material renovation seems an appropriate reminder for states of the need to be constantly renewed in the pursuit of the great objectives that inspired the creation of the organization of the United Nations.

Sixty-two years ago, the U.N. was established in order to save future generations from the scourge of war, to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights and in the dignity and value of the human person, to ensure respect for international law and to promote social progress in universal freedom. Today, once more, we must reaffirm those values in order to deliver a forceful “no” to war and an equally forceful “yes” to human dignity.

Dialogue and cooperation among nations

The preamble of the Charter of the U.N., in its reference to the fundamental rights and the dignity of the human person, uses the word “faith” and links it to dialogue and cooperation among nations. In this way it is affirmed that there is such a thing as universal and transcendent truth about man and his innate dignity, which is not only prior to all political activity, but determines it -- so that no ideology of power can eliminate it.

This innate dignity also determines the just measure of national interests which may never be considered absolute, and in defense of which not only is it never right to harm the legitimate interests of other states but there is an obligation at the same time to help promote the common good of all people.

Respect for human dignity, therefore, is the deepest ethical foundation in the search for peace and in the building up of international relations corresponding to the authentic needs and hopes of all the peoples of the earth. Forgetting, or partially and selectively accepting, the above principle is what lies at the origin of conflicts, of environmental degradation and of social and economic injustices.

The terrorist attacks which marked the beginning of the 21st century have given rise to pessimistic visions of humanity based on a supposed clash of civilizations. At times people respond by returning to extreme forms of nationalism, or by extending justification for the use of force, or by relativizing further the values essentially tied to human dignity -- in particular the universal rights to life and to religious freedom.

Nowadays, the binomial “culture and religion” is increasingly heard in this hall. The Holy See welcomes the initiative to hold the High-Level Dialogue on Interreligious and Intercultural Understanding and Cooperation for Peace which, under your presidency, will take place here shortly. Indeed, dialogue among peoples of different cultures and religions is not an option; it is something indispensable for peace and for the renewal of international life.

The Holy See hopes that the increased interest on the part of nonreligious bodies and institutions will contribute to a greater respect for religious freedom everywhere. Today, the right to religious freedom continues to be disregarded and even violated in certain places. Such violation has become a pretext for various other forms of discrimination.

If religious leaders and believers expect states and societies to respect them and acknowledge their religions to be truly instruments of peace, they themselves must respect religious freedom; they must show that they are pledged to promote peace and shun violence; they must demonstrate that religion is not and must not become a pretext for conflict; and they must declare without ambiguity that to promote violence or to wage war in the name of religion is a blatant contradiction.

Peace and security

Mr. President,

In the difficult crossroads in which humanity finds itself today, the use of force no longer represents a sustainable solution. It is important to help the Conference on Disarmament find a way out of the impasse in which it has been languishing for more than a decade, relieve the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons from the severe strain to which it has ...

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