He said it before members of the plenary meeting held by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
Mary Ann Glendon, president of the academy, explained to the Pope and those invited, that the meeting focused around the theme of human rights and human dignity.
The Pope defended human dignity and human rights as natural rights afforded to everyone.
"The Church has always affirmed that fundamental rights, above and beyond the different ways in which they are formulated and the different degrees of importance they may have in various cultural contexts, are to be upheld and accorded universal recognition."
The Pope said that while many states recognize the importance of defending human rights, they don’t always have the means to do so, as is the case for world hunger and scarcity of water and energy.
The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences was created in 1994 by John Paul II to study social sciences and be an adviser to the Pope on social issues.