Nations must find peaceful ways to deal with conflict, because everyone has the right to life and liberty, Pope Francis told diplomats accredited to the Vatican while outlining the need for disarmament and dialogue.
The Pope called for debate on the stockpiling of weapons and conflict resolution that “avoids polarising the international community” in his annual address.
At the start of a new year, the Pope dedicated his speech to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which will celebrate the 70th anniversary of its adoption by the UN General Assembly in December.
Francis cautioned that there is a movement to create “new rights” that conflict with each other as well the traditional values and cultures of many countries.
“Somewhat paradoxically, there is a risk that, in the very name of human rights, we will see the rise of modern forms of ideological colonisation by the stronger and the wealthier, to the detriment of the poorer and the most vulnerable,” he said.
Seven decades after the creation of the universal declaration, Pope Francis said, “it is painful to see how many fundamental rights continue to be violated today. First among all of these is the right of every human person to life, liberty and personal security.”
He said that not only are innocent unborn children discarded because they are “ill or malformed, or as a result of the selfishness of adults,” the elderly are often cast aside especially when they are infirm.
Disarmament is integral to development, he told the diplomats, as the proliferation of weapons aggravates situations and requires huge material and human cost.
“The stockpiles of armaments which have been built up in various countries must be reduced” and “nuclear weapons must be banned”, particularly given the risk that a nuclear conflagration could be started by accident, Pope Francis said, quoting St John XXIII’s encyclical on peace, Pacem in Terris.
“In this regard, it is of paramount importance to support every effort at dialogue on the Korean peninsula, in order to find new ways of overcoming the current disputes, increasing mutual trust and ensuring a peaceful future for the Korean people and the entire world.”