Aide Addresses Human Rights Commission

GENEVA, APRIL 16, 2002 ( The Vatican appealed to the international community for respect in wartime for places of worship, especially in the Holy Land.

“The holy sites in Jerusalem and the Holy Land have a special significance for the three monotheistic traditions — indeed for the whole of humanity,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the Vatican’s permanent observer at the United Nations in Geneva, told a session of the U.N. Human Rights Commission. The commission is meeting from March 18 to April 26.

“Disrespect for or misuse of these sites constitutes a violation of international norms — as well as bilateral agreements,” the archbishop stressed.

In his Friday address, published today by the Vatican Press Office, Archbishop Martin said that any “long-term solution to the crisis in the Middle East must indeed address the question of respect for and unrestricted access to the religious sites, sacred to each religious tradition.”

“This is also a dimension of religious freedom,” he explained. “It is a precondition for fostering a climate of dialogue between religions in the Middle East, in the service of peace.”

At the start of his address, Archbishop Martin clarified that respect “for religious freedom means, today, welcoming the contribution of religious believers as vital for the construction of a lasting peace.”