Following a concert on Wednesday at the Vatican, the Holy Father addressed the crowd about human rights. These rights, he said, are based in God, “who has given intelligence and freedom to all.” If these rights are disconnected from God, the Pope cautioned, they “weaken and lose their concrete foundation.”
The concert, which was organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, commemorated the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The night included musical arrangements presented by the Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester of Frankfurt, which was directed by the Spaniard Inman Shara.
After the music concluded, the Holy Father took the occasion to speak to the audience. In his speech, he affirmed that in order to achieve the true dignity of all persons, their fundamental rights must be “recognized, defended, and promoted."
The church has always emphasized human rights, he continued, because “they are a universal given, since they form part of the very nature of humanity.” It is the natural law, which is “inscribed by the Creator in human consciousness,” that “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."
These rights are “ultimately based on God the Creator who has given intelligence and freedom to all,” Benedict XVI explained. If human rights are disconnected from God, they “weaken and lose their concrete foundation."
The Pope then called on everyone to use the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Declaration as “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: 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 common task to better promote and define human rights cannot cease,” concluded the Holy Father, but rather our efforts must “intensify.”