He said: “This failure to understand the nature and reality of human rights leads to grave inequalities and injustices, such as ignoring children in the womb and treating the lives of the elderly and persons with disabilities as insupportable burdens on society.”
Quoting from Samaritanus bonus, a letter released last month by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he added: “Just as there is no right to abortion, there is also no right to euthanasia: ‘laws exist, not to cause death, but to protect life and to facilitate co-existence among human beings.’”
Caccia added that the sacredness of human life also impelled the Vatican to oppose the death penalty.
His comments were the latest in a series of forthright interventions from the Vatican regarding the UN, which the Holy See has steadfastly supported as a way of promoting international cooperation.
Pope Francis called for reform of the intergovernmental body in his new encyclical, “Fratelli tutti,” released Oct. 4. Late last month he lamented the promotion of abortion by “some countries and international institutions” in a video message to the UN General Assembly.
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin offered a critical assessment of the UN’s 75-year history in his speech to the General Assembly.
“The United Nations is not perfect and it has not always lived up to its name and ideals, and it has harmed itself whenever particular interests have triumphed over the common good,” he said.
Caccia’s statement addressed not only human rights, but also inequalities highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic, violence against women, children’s rights, the welfare of indigenous peoples, racism, and criminal justice.
He said that the virus, which has killed more than a million people worldwide, had “dramatically impacted” the elderly and the disabled. The resulting “waves of unemployment and underemployment” had left the young fearing for the future, he observed.
He called for greater efforts to combat violence against women and girls, which had increased since the COVID-19 outbreak.
He added that the crisis was having “devastating effects” on children, millions of whom were unable to return to school and were at risk of exploitation.
He said that the pandemic had worsened conditions for indigenous peoples, who struggled to obtain medicines, food and water amid nationwide restrictions.
(Story cotinues below)
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He also deplored a “worrying resurgence of aggressive nationalism, ethnic violence and the widespread phenomena of racial discrimination.”
Finally, Caccia said that the pandemic presented new challenges to fighting human trafficking, the drugs trade, and corruption.
“As we face an unprecedented health crisis, there is reason to be concerned that the vast amount of funds released for COVID-19 pandemic recovery has already attracted criminal activities,” he said.
In conclusion, the archbishop argued that “human rights will never be fully recognized and universally acknowledged unless all states, especially those in conflict, engage in good faith and integrity with this international organization, working together to reach this goal.”
“International consensus requires setting aside ideological conflicts and also conceptions of the human person in which the dignity, rights and freedoms of the other are not respected,” he said.