By Holy See Mission
New York, NY, Nov. 3 – In the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, addressed the Plenary on the Report of the Human Rights Council. He stressed the spiritual dimension of human rights, explaining that the “recognition of the dignity of each and every person... entails full respect for the inner and transcendent dimension of the human person”. Not only did he touch on the importance of freedom of conscience, he also linked the expression of conscience to the freedom of religion.Archbishop Chullikatt invoked article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance”. He specified that “governments have a solemn responsibility to safeguard... this inalienable right” rather than neglecting it and allowing it to suffer ridicule and religious believers to persecution. With the backdrop of the recent siege of The Church of Our Lady of Deliverance, the Syrian Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad, Iraq, he drew attention to the plight of Christians in many parts of the world.The Permanent Observer also addressed the topics of education and marriage. “The institution of marriage,” he said, “is prior to any recognition by public authority, which has an obligation to recognize and protect it”. He continued to describe the family – the union of man and woman in marriage together with their children – as the natural and fundamental unit of society, pointing out that “international instruments consistently affirm the right and responsibility of parents in the education of their children and such instruments rightly affirm that the decision regarding the education of the child rests with the parents”.In this context he expressed dismay at the report (A/65/162) recently submitted by Vernor Muñoz Villalobos, who for the last six years had been the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, which called for mandatory comprehensive sexual education of children to the point of criticizing countries who would permit parents to exempt their sons and daughters from such education.Archbishop Chullikatt concluded by insisting that “human rights are based on the inherent dignity of the human person, and these inalienable rights are founded in the natural moral order, and they are discernible through right reason which is universal”. “My Delegation must be candid,” he said, “human rights do not change any more than human nature can change”.
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