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Cardinal says racism is biggest obstacle to human rights

Racism "is more alive than ever, under different guises," Cardinal Roger Etchegaray has told a UN round table in Geneva.

The cardinal, a former president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, participated in the round table last Friday at the invitation of Mary Robinson, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"We will never know how to crush this evil sufficiently, which does not cease to be reborn from its ashes," the cardinal said.

The Vatican Press Office published the text of his address on Monday.

Cardinal Etchegaray referred to those cases in which "a nation tends to become the supreme measure of its citizens by identifying with an ethnic group."

According to the cardinal, the battle against racism is an "exhausting war, undoubtedly the hardest combat for human rights," because the "object of this war is the perfect equality of all men, and this is a kind of challenge of the spirit against nature, because men are more sensitive to difference than to equality."