Pope Is Coming to UN As Pilgrim of Peace

United Nations - Pope Benedict XVI is coming to the United Nations next week as "a pilgrim of peace" to promote dialogue between cultures and religions based on fundamental human rights, the Holy See's U.N. observer said Thursday.

Archbishop Celestine Migliore said there are too many world crises for the pope to deal with in his speech to the General Assembly on April 18 during his trip to the United States.

But "surely, coming to the U.N. as a pilgrim of peace, he will say that we cannot base our relations on the false notion that might makes right, that we cannot build our future on a simple balance of power," Migliore said.

"No, our future must be based on respect for universal truths and our common humanity," he said.

The pope's visit will be the fourth by a leader of the Roman Catholic church to the United Nations: Paul VI came in 1965 when the U.N. celebrated its 20th anniversary; John Paul II came in 1979 at the start of his pontificate and again in 1995 for the U.N.'s 50th anniversary.

Benedict is coming to the United Nations as it celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, at the invitation of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who met the pontiff at the Vatican a year ago.

"One of the Holy See's priorities at the United Nations is precisely the encounter and dialogue between people of different cultures, civilizations, traditions and religions," Migliore told a briefing on the pope's trip.

Migliore said Benedict shares the conviction of the declaration's framers "that certain values and rights are so fundamental that they can find support in the moral and philosophical traditions of cultures, and are undeniable and non-negotiable."

But Migliore stressed that a dialogue "requires a minimum common denominator in the vision that one has of the human person, of human life, and therefore of human rights, of democracy, of freedom, and of coexistence among peoples."

The archbishop said that in certain places, more than one of these rights are violated or neglected due to the "conviction that states and governments have the power to concede or deny these rights ... rather than admit that they are inscribed in human nature."

Migliore, who is the apostolic nuncio to the United Nations, also said Benedict will talk about how the search for peace has changed in the 21st century when he addresses the General Assembly.

"For a long time, peace was a question of limiting or putting an end to conflicts among states or warlords," Migliore said. "Today ... it's a matter of building peace among peoples who have a clear perception of the diversity of their respective cultures, civilizations, religions, ... of human rights, of society, of human existence."