Archbishop tells UN to defend right to life, religious freedom

.- Yesterday afternoon, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States, delivered a statement before the first session of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, the Vatican Information Service reported.

"The new Human Rights Council represents an important step in the struggle to place human beings at the center of all political activity, both national and international," said Archbishop Lajolo.

After describing the situation of human rights in the world as "worrying," the Holy See secretary for Relations with States pointed out how in many countries those rights suffer "grave violations," and that there are governments which continue to believe that, "in the final instance, power determines the content of human rights and, consequently, they feel justified in using aberrant practices."

"All States, members of the council, must assume their individual and collective responsibility in the defense and promotion of these rights," he added.

Going on to refer to the most fundamental human right, the right to life, Archbishop Lajolo said that "never must a government, a group or an individual take upon themselves the right to decide on the life of a human being as if he were not a person, reducing him to the condition of an object that serves other aims, however grand or noble such aims may be."

"A corollary of this concerns the right to freedom of belief and to religious freedom, because humans have an interior and transcendent dimension which is an integral part of their very being. To deny this dimension to is to make a serious attack against human dignity."

"Religious freedom must be harmoniously inserted into the context of all human freedoms," said the secretary for Relations with States. "It cannot become merely arbitrary."

"The response of the Human Rights Council to the challenges of freedom in many countries of the world, beginning with the council's own member States," Archbishop Lajolo concluded, "is a test of the credibility of the United Nations and of the entire international judicial system.”

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