Pope: Human Rights Have Their Basis in God

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

VATICAN CITY, December 11, 2008 ( - After a musical concert yesterday commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the audience in the Paul VI Hall of the Vatican. He stated that "human rights are ultimately based on God the Creator who has given intelligence and freedom to all. Disconnected from this solid ethical basis, human rights weaken and lose their concrete foundation."

The Holy Father stressed that "the dignity of all persons is only truly guaranteed when all the fundamental rights are recognized, defended, and promoted" and affirmed that "the Church has always emphasized that the fundamental rights, beyond their various formulations and the distinct weight that they might have in the cultural sphere, are a universal given, since they form part of the very nature of humanity.

"Natural law, inscribed by the Creator in human consciousness, is the common denominator of all persons and all people; it is a universal guide that all can understand and in virtue of which all can understand themselves."

Speaking of the high ideals expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Pope said the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Declaration "is an opportunity to verify to what point the ideals, accepted by the majority of the community of nations in 1948, are respected today in the different national legislatures and, further, in the consciousness of individuals and communities."

"They have undoubtedly come a long way but there still remains much to do,” he said, “the rights to life, liberty and safety for hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters remain threatened; the equality of all and the dignity of each are not always respected while new barriers tied to race, religion, political opinions, and other convictions are being raised."

The Holy Father concluded by asking that "the common task to better promote and define human rights not cease and that the effort to guarantee their respect intensify."

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