Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI and Cultural Relativism

Dr. Sanity's got a post up identifying the central message of Pope Benedict XVI's speech on human rights at the United Nations on Friday: no yielding to cultural relativism:

From Pope Benedict's UN speech yesterday:

This reference to human dignity, which is the foundation and goal of the responsibility to protect, leads us to the theme we are specifically focusing upon this year, which marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document was the outcome of a convergence of different religious and cultural traditions, all of them motivated by the common desire to place the human person at the heart of institutions, laws and the workings of society, and to consider the human person essential for the world of culture, religion and science. Human rights are increasingly being presented as the common language and the ethical substratum of international relations. At the same time, the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights all serve as guarantees safeguarding human dignity. It is evident, though, that the rights recognized and expounded in the Declaration apply to everyone by virtue of the common origin of the person, who remains the high-point of God's creative design for the world and for history. They are based on the natural law inscribed on human hearts and present in different cultures and civilizations. Removing human rights from this context would mean restricting their range and yielding to a relativistic conception, according to which the meaning and interpretation of rights could vary and their universality would be denied in the name of different cultural, political, social and even religious outlooks. This great variety of viewpoints must not be allowed to obscure the fact that not only rights are universal, but so too is the human person, the subject of those rights.
Well said.

By the way, after reading the Pope's message at the UN, I was kind of surprised at the way it was being reported. Turns out, the AP made up some things and spun some other things that he said.
Benedict did not deliver quite the "socialist-US bashing manifesto' they might like you to believe.

Pope Benedict, I think, is pretty clear that human rights and human freedom are the key issues that must be addressed in the world today. He is particularly concerned about freedom of religion and that countries where this is restricted are violating human rights (who might he be talking about, I wonder? Hmmmm.).

If we want to see the consequences of leftist socialism-lite, utopian pacifism, moral equivalence, and cultural relativism, then we need only look at how easily Europe and the leftists in this country have surrendered the fundamental values of Western civilization to the shrill (and violent) demands of Islamic fanatics--all done in the spirit of multicultural tolerance and politically correct compassion.

Europe, having given up any objective standard by which to mediate the vastly different perspectives and feelings of its varied populations; having abandoned reason altogether in favor of the expression of feelings no matter how destructive or unreasonable; and, finally, having endlessly touted the critical importance and essential need to "belong" to one's race, tribe, religion or group first and foremost; the outcome is what
Stephen Hicks refers to as "group balkinization" --with all its inevitable and inescapable conflict.

That politically correct road which the left has taken us all down--billed as the path to peace and harmony--has instead led to a land dominated by emotions; a place where barbarism of the most primal sort is tolerated and excused; and where the human rights that the Pope talks about have been all but abandoned.

And, why should we be surprised at this destination? Why would peaceful coexistence be expected to result from a movement that has done everything in its power to eradicate universalism and undermine the very idea of a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and foist multiculturalism and tribalism into the public consciousness?

The Pope lauds the UN for its stand on basic human rights, but the words of the UN are often a far cry from its actions in the real world. All one has to do is take a look at the membership of the UN's own 'Human Rights' committee to see how far that organization has distanced itself from reality.: the worse human rights offenders in the world are given a platform with which to trumpet their own bigotry and oppression.

And the world yawns.
See also, "Pope Benedict XVI Stresses 'Duty' of Human Rights in U.N. Address."