Anyway, on to the Pope's address:
Without doubt, we have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go: the right to life, freedom and security of hundreds of millions of our brothers and sisters are still under threat; the dignity and equality of each individual is not always respectedYeah, no kidding.
Natural law, written by God within human conscience, - continued the Pope – is a common denominator between all men and all peoples; it is a universal guide that everyone can recognise and thanks to which people can understand each other. And so, human rights are ultimately founded in God the creator, who gave each one of us intelligence and freedom. If we ignore this solid base, human rights will remain weak because [they are deprived of] a solid foundation.Uggh. That's epic logic right there. Where to begin? First off, despite the ceremonial deism in the Declaration of Independence, human rights are understood as an innate thing - all people should have certain rights because all people desire life, liberty, and happiness. It's a travesty of the highest order to suggest that innate, self-evident human rights bear no meaning without belief in God. Rather than based in God, human rights are quite clearly based in mankind.
It's no small irony that the Catholic Church has previously condemned the idea of human rights - Pope Gregory XVI put it quite clearly when he said that it is an "absurd and erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be maintained for everyone" and "Experience shows, even from earliest times, that cities renowned for wealth, dominion, and glory perished as a result of this single evil, namely immoderate freedom of opinion, license of free speech, and desire for novelty. " History 1, Pope 0.
To add to Pope Benedict's speech, a Cardinal lays out his views on freedom of religion. Apparently, it's not enough simply to have have the basic right to free exercise of religion, he wants the deluxe package:
During the commemorative congress, Cardinal Bertone in his observations on human rights, highlighted the value of religious freedom as a “fundamental right”; “the object of this right, is not the intrinsic content of one determined religious faith, but immunity from all coercion, a security zone capable of guaranteeing the inviolable space in which every believer and the community in which he expresses his beliefs are free to act, without outside pressures from persons, social groups or authorities, whomever they may be. It is an evident fact that religion has a direct influence on the internal life of States and the International Community. Despite this, there are increasing indications of trends that seem to want to exclude religion and the rights connected to it from the possibility of concurring in the building of social order, even in full respect of that pluralism which distinguishes contemporary society”.
That is one reeaaallly strange statement. A religious "security zone" where believers can do... whatever they want I guess, without any sort of "pressures" (criticism?) from outsiders. I could be mistaken about this, but from the tone and the secularism bogeyman at the end, it really does seem like he's advocating a criticism-free version of religious tolerance, similar to the one Muslims demanded from the UN.
Read some of his earlier stuff, it's a real eye-opener - endorsing religious entanglement in politics with the succinct phrase, "politics needs Christianity".
Everything needs Christianity nowadays. Human rights needs Christianity. Ethics needs Christianity. Science needs Christianity. Politics needs Christianity. The public square needs Christianity.
Know what I think? Christianity desperately needs a niche.