Pope Benedict XVI Addresses UN General Assembly
By Samantha Singson
(NEW YORK — C-FAM) Today in New York, Pope Benedict XVI became the third pope to address the United Nations General Assembly. The pontiff spoke before the packed assembly that included representatives from all 192 member states and hundreds of representatives from civil society. On the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Declaration), Pope Benedict addressed the audience in both English and French and called on the UN to be “an instrument of service to the entire human family.”
Pope Benedict emphasized that “The promotion of human rights remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and for increasing security” and that “efforts need to be redoubled in the face of pressure to reinterpret the foundations of the Declaration and to compromise its inner unity so as to facilitate a move away from the protection of human dignity towards the satisfaction of simple interests, often particular interests.”
At the United Nations, the Holy Father faces an international body that does good work around the world in peacekeeping and in providing aid to those who are suffering. But it is also a body which Benedict said last year often falls into relativism. While the Holy See is classified as an observer state at the UN, the Holy See enjoys nearly full participation at UN meetings and negotiations and has continuously worked to overcome ideas and practices that violate the teachings of the Catholic Church, including contraception and abortion. In his speech to the General Assembly, Pope Benedict cautioned that the rights enshrined in the Declaration “cannot be applied piecemeal, according to trends or selective choices that merely run the risk of contradicting the unity of the human person and thus the indivisibility of human rights.”
Pope Benedict XVI not only spoke of the UN’s need to promote and protect human rights, but also spoke of the responsibility of the international community to use scientific research and technological advances in a way that does not violate the “order of creation, to the point where not only is the sacred character of life contradicted, but the human person and family are robbed of their natural identity.”
Pope Benedict is on his first and perhaps only trip to the United States as pontiff. He landed in Washington D.C. on Tuesday and was met by President George W. Bush at the airport, an honor never before bestowed on any visiting dignitary by any president. During the D.C. leg of his trip, Benedict met with President Bush at the White House and held a prayer session before answering questions with an audience of American bishops. Benedict also spoke to the students at Catholic University of America and held an inter-religious dialogue at the John Paul II Cultural Center and held a huge public mass at the new baseball stadium.
The Holy Father’s New York visit will include a mass for priests, deacons and religious at St. Patrick’s cathedral, a visit to Ground Zero at the World Trade Center Site and ends with a public mass at Yankees Stadium on Sunday.
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