The Pope and the General Assembly: Universal Truth at a International Organization
Pope Benedict XVI visited the UN in New York April 18th, 2008 in honor of the 62nd session of the General Assembly. Although this speech is almost 4 years old, it is important to reflect on the Pope’s words to the international community and how much of what the Holy Father said still holds true.
-”Recognition of the unity of the human family, and attention to the innate dignity of every man and woman, today find renewed emphasis in the principle of the responsibility to protect.”
Today the human family is still suffering from divorce and the pressure from the secular world to women to have abortion. Children today suffer from growing up in homes with only one parent which can be detrimental to their upbringing.
-”This reference to human dignity, which is the foundation and goal of the responsibility to protect, leads us to the theme we are specifically focusing upon this year, which marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a document almost 60 years old, but it many ways it is one that is essentially still loosely enforced and followed. The Pope notes the original intent in conceiving this document was to put the human person at the center of all human institutions.
-”Human rights, of course, must include the right to religious freedom, understood as the expression of a dimension that is at once individual and communitarian – a vision that brings out the unity of the person while clearly distinguishing between the dimension of the citizen and that of the believer.”
Religious freedom is an ongoing problem facing the world today. We can see the rise of secularism across the globe and even instances of this throughout the international community at the UN. A recent report published in 2011 entitled “Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe” reveals religious violations across Europe. Here a few
- Jan 2011: At the University of Barcelona, protests by a group of secular students against the Catholic liturgical service on campus, including the interruption of the service, led to a cancellation of a weekday mass.
- March 2011: Irene Wiens, mother of 12 served a 43 day jail sentence in Germany for refusing to enroll her children in sex- ed classes.
- May 2011: The campaign “Calling the Pope to Account” sued the Pope at the International Criminal Court at the Hague for crimes against the humanity.
- April 2011: (France)’Piss Christ’ is a photograph by Andres Serrano which shows a crucifix submerged in yellow liquid. It has been displayed since the beginning of April in Avignon.
- September 2011: (Germany) A radical atheist group called “What the f…..”released a video on YouTube in which crosses are being destroyed with much violence and hatred.
- November 2011: (Italy) Three radical feminists undressed at St.Peter Square in Vatican City right after the Pope’s traditional Sunday blessing to the pilgrims gathering there on November 6th. One of them was identified as Oleksandra Shevchenko, leader of the responsible non- government organization Femen, took off her jacket uncovering a transparent blouse holding a sign saying “Freedom for Women”.
Pope Benedict closed his address with quoting words from his recent encyclical Spe Salvi in which he wrote, ““every generation has the task of engaging anew in the arduous search for the right way to order human affairs” (no. 25).
Whether we are involved in international affairs or not, WE all have a role to play in making a difference in our world. Whatever path we choose to follow, we will be held accountable for our responsibility to protect the oppressed and fortunate. And we will all be judged one day according to what we did to the “least”.- Matthew 25:40