Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Apostolic Nuncio leading the Holy See's permanent observer mission to the United Nations, gave an address to the UN Tuesday stressing the importance of human rights in forming a culture of peace.
The archbishop connected human rights to transcendent sources, saying that the recognition of human rights presupposes "a universal and transcendent truth about man that is not only prior to all human activity, but also determines it." He described the Golden Rule "do unto others what you want others to do unto you" as conveying a principle of fundamental equality, and highlighted the importance of the right to life.
"Respect for the right to life at every stage, from conception to natural death, firmly establishes the principle that life is not at anyone’s disposal," he said
Explaining the need to respect the interests of other states, he nonetheless exhorted all governments to promote and defend the common good. In his view forgetting this responsibility is the origin of conflicts, environmental degradation, and social and economic injustices. He further emphasized the importance of moral concerns in guiding human advancement, saying "progress in every field cannot be measured by what is possible, but by its compatibility with human dignity."
Archbishop Migliore gave special attention to religious liberty. "In the same manner that the right to life cannot be disposed of at will, the right to religious freedom cannot be subject to human caprice." Difficulties for those trying to exercise religious freedom are a symptom of a lack of true peace. A fundamental human right is violated both by religious regimes that impose a single religion upon everyone and by secular regimes that denigrate religious belief and deny public space to religion.
He concluded his address with a request that all religions work for peace and reconciliation.