Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, said this week human rights “cannot be considered as containers that according to particular historical, cultural and political moments, are filled with different meanings and elements.” Their common roots, he said, are found in natural law which, as Pope Benedict XVI said in his speech at the U.N., “is written on the heart of man.”
According to the SIR news agency, during his speech at a congress on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Rome, Cardinal Bertone warned that amidst the troubling global situation “fundamental rights seem to depend on uncontrolled anonymous mechanisms and on a vision that unfolds in the pragmatism of the moment.”
The cardinal also explained that defending “fundamental rights” such as life, the family, education and religious freedom, “means not confusing them with simple and often limited contingent needs. Moreover once they are recognized and enshrined into eventual conventions, human rights always need to be defended.”
Cardinal Bertone went on to note that it is difficult to protect human rights effectively and universally without cognizance of “that natural law that nourishes human rights themselves and is the antithesis of the degradation that has led our society” to debate “the ethics of life and procreation, marriage and family life, education and the formation of young generations.”
He stressed that the Church has always seen the 1948 Declaration as a positive step and a starting point to keep society from falling into a denial of the primacy of the human being.