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Natural rights precede the state, Vatican delegate tells international forum

Catholic World News - October 15, 2012

The role of religion in public life is not to suggest specific policies but to remind society of “the objective moral norms at the basis of justice,” a Vatican delegate told an international conference in Turkey.

Speaking at the Istanbul World Forum, Father Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, said: “Justice is a divine attribute.” However, he continued, this does not mean that the concept of justice is a purely religious matter. He said that the Catholic Church teaches that “justice is accessible by means of human reason, to all men and women of goodwill, both religious and non-religious.”

The natural law, which all people can understand, tells us that human rights are based on the innate dignity of the person, Father Guixot said. “These rights are antecedent and independent of the state, and the measure of the justice of the state is the extent by which it respects and vindicates these antecedent rights.”

The Vatican representative explained that religious freedom should be recognized as the most fundamental human right, because the must fundamental goal of mankind is to seek the meaning of life and the path to true happiness. "Since the ultimate question is moral in nature then it follows that the hallmark of a civil and just society is the proper and due space afforded to religion.”

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