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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pope Benedict's speech at the UN

Late last evening I was discussing with a friend Pope Benedict's speech at the UN.

She, a practicing Catholic, was ver moved by his words.

I, a lapsed Catholic, was not.

And here's the reason why:

I firmly believe that the Declaration of Independence is a moral document because for the first time in the history of mankind a document stated,
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Right, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
At the UN, Pope Benedict's position was that human rights derive from a "sense of justice built primarily upon solidarity":
Experience shows that legality often prevails over justice when the insistence upon rights makes them appear as the exclusive result of legislative enactments or normative decisions taken by the various agencies of those in power. When presented purely in terms of legality, rights risk becoming weak propositions divorced from the ethical and rational dimension which is their foundation and their goal. The Universal Declaration, rather, has reinforced the conviction that respect for human rights is principally rooted in unchanging justice, on which the binding force of international proclamations is also based. This aspect is often overlooked when the attempt is made to deprive rights of their true function in the name of a narrowly utilitarian perspective. Since rights and the resulting duties follow naturally from human interaction, it is easy to forget that they are the fruit of a commonly held sense of justice built primarily upon solidarity among the members of society, and hence valid at all times and for all peoples. This intuition was expressed as early as the fifth century by Augustine of Hippo, one of the masters of our intellectual heritage. He taught that the saying: Do not do to others what you would not want done to you "cannot in any way vary according to the different understandings that have arisen in the world" (De Doctrina Christiana, III, 14). Human rights, then, must be respected as an expression of justice, and not merely because they are enforceable through the will of the legislators.
Unfortunately a "sense of justice built primarily upon solidarity" is exactly what generates the mentality where the UN Human Rights Council, and the UN World Conferences Against Racism, continue to condemn Israel and the US.


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At 9:41 AM, Blogger Obi's Sister said...

And you have the full circle - "old" Europe still has its head in the same bucket that sparked the movement that created the Colonies and subsequent independence. The house the patriots build. Sometimes I wonder what Christ thinks of what his Vicar is up to. Or any churches for that matter. And I don't mean that with any disrespect at all! I myself am a recovering Baptist (still a member), but holding my faith closer to the vest, so to speak. Over the years, after watching what people said and did in the name of God, my blood began to run a little cold. So I changed my focus to work on strengthening my relationship with the Big Guy and tuned out the baloney that went around me. So I'm better now. And the shenanigans at church now mildly amuse instead of grate on me. I've often wondered though what Jesus would do if he came back today. Like the Temple story, I think he'd overturn the tables of Political Correctness, starting at the Vatican.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger Fausta said...

You have described my change, OS, in that holding my faith closer to the vest, so to speak.

At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Faina Sechzer said...

Fausta, I agree with your view. The word "Justice" is often stretched to justify the means towards an end. History tells us about how horrific these ends could be. Legal foundation, is the base for equal rights.

At 4:19 PM, Blogger Francis W. Porretto said...

"I, a lapsed Catholic..."

You'll be back. I "lapsed" too. For more than thirty years, in fact. And no one has been more effulgent in praise of the Sunday Ruminations than you.

At 4:29 PM, Anonymous Gringo said...

"Lapsed Catholic"...It is interesting how many people who do not belong to organized churches are aligning, not with the non-religious left, but on the right in alliance with those who belong to churches. There are more important priorities than what another's religion is - or isn't. While I do not agree,for example, with Pentecostals, I do not fear them.

As a sign of this, the atheist Orianna Falacci donated her papers to the Vatican, if memory serves me correctly.

At 5:43 PM, Blogger Fausta said...

the atheist Orianna Falacci donated her papers to the Vatican
Yes, and she spoke well of the Pope in one of her last interviews: "I feel less alone when I read the books of Ratzinger." I had asked Ms. Fallaci whether there was any contemporary leader she admired, and Pope Benedict XVI was evidently a man in whom she reposed some trust. "I am an atheist, and if an atheist and a pope think the same things, there must be something true. It's that simple! There must be some human truth here that is beyond religion", even when she felt that ours is an age without leaders.


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