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Wednesday, September 8, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 8 SEP 2010 (VIS) - Following his general audience this morning, the Holy Father received members of the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The meeting marked the sixtieth anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights, which "commits member States of the Council of Europe to promote and defend the inviolable dignity of the human person".

  Speaking English, Benedict XVI referred to the topics on the parliamentary assembly's agenda, such as "persons who live in particularly difficult situations or are subjected to grave violations of their dignity". He made particular mention of "people afflicted with handicaps, children who suffer violence, immigrants, refugees, those who pay the most for the present economic and financial crisis, those who are victims of extremism or of new forms of slavery such as human trafficking, the illegal drug trade and prostitution, ... victims of warfare and people who live in fragile democracies". The Pope also dwelt on the organisation's efforts "to defend religious freedom and to oppose violence and intolerance against believers in Europe and worldwide.

  "Keeping in mind the context of today's society in which different peoples and cultures come together", he added, "it is imperative to develop the universal validity of these rights as well as their inviolability, inalienability and indivisibility. On different occasions I have pointed out the risks associated with relativism in the area of values, rights and duties. If these were to lack an objective rational foundation, common to all peoples, and were based exclusively on particular cultures, legislative decisions or court judgements, how could they offer a solid and long-lasting ground for supranational institutions such as the Council of Europe? ... How could a fruitful dialogue among cultures take place without common values, rights and stable, universal principles understood in the same way by all member States of the Council of Europe?"

  He went on: "These values, rights and duties are rooted in the natural dignity of each person, something which is accessible to human reasoning. The Christian faith does not impede, but favours this search, and is an invitation to seek a supernatural basis for this dignity".

  The Holy Father concluded by expressing his conviction that "these principles, faithfully maintained, above all when dealing with human life, from conception to natural death, with marriage - rooted in the exclusive and indissoluble gift of self between one man and one woman - and freedom of religion and education, are necessary conditions if we are to respond adequately to the decisive and urgent challenges that history presents".
AC/                                    VIS 20100908 (440)

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