Respect human rights to solve world’s problems: Pope

April 19th, 2008 - 12:58 am ICT by admin  

By Parveen Chopra
New York, April 18 (IANS) Pope Benedict XVI Friday emphasised the role that respect for human rights - including right to religious freedom - can play in solving many of the world’s problems. Addressing the UN General Assembly here, he, however, cautioned that international cooperation was threatened by “the decisions of a small number” of nations.

Calling the UN’s work in this regard as vital, the pontiff said the world’s problems call for collective interventions by the international community.

“The promotion of human rights remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and for increasing security,” the pope said on his first visit to the UN during his five-day US tour.

The final responsibility to meet the aspirations of peoples and communities cannot be entrusted with individual states, because that can lead to excluding the possibility of a social order respectful of the dignity and rights of the person.

The pope instead held out the vision of life anchored in the religious dimension, which favours conversion of heart, leading to a commitment to resist violence, and to promote justice and peace.

Recommending that the religious sphere be kept separate from political action, he emphasised the right to religious freedom, which needs “protection if it is considered to clash with a prevailing secular ideology or with majority religious positions of an exclusive nature”.

Religious liberty, he added, extends to the public dimension of religion, and hence to the possibility of believers playing their part in building the social order.

Earlier, speaking to the UN staff, the pope commended the world body for increasing focus on its responsibility to protect the weak of the world.

This responsibility, he said, is being recognised as the moral basis for a government’s claim to authority.

The UN, he said, “performs an important service, in the name of the international community, by monitoring the extent to which governments fulfil their responsibility to protect their citizens”.

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