Interview: "The Search for Peace Is a Duty"

Archbishop Martino, Vatican Aide at U.N.

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NEW YORK, SEPT. 13, 2001 (ZENIT.orgAvvenire).- Archbishop Renato Martino, the Vatican´s permanent observer at the United Nations here, spoke with the international agency Fides just hours after the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Q: Archbishop Martino, what are your feelings at this moment?

Archbishop Martino: I saw those towers collapsing, almost as if they were being swallowed into the earth. This is not the first time I have witnessed similar implosions used to destroy old buildings. But this was different: It was an implosion caused by human violence.

At first, New Yorkers were petrified, but they soon began to compete in solidarity: people wait patiently in endless lines to give their blood for the injured, volunteer searchers, about 700 or 800, join police and firemen searching among the rubble for survivors, despite the danger of falling debris and fires still burning. At least 200 firemen were killed in action when the towers collapsed. Masses for the dead were offered in Washington as well as New York.

Q: Can conclusions be drawn for international politics?

Archbishop Martino: What has happened is a reminder that the search for peace is a duty. Every country that has the means to intervene to bring peace must do so. No one can stand and watch. Sooner or later every country must be involved.

The United States can no longer be considered invulnerable. Despite the elaborate missile defense program, millions of dollars spent on fighting terrorism, all it took was a couple of penknives to cause a disaster of such proportions.

Terrorists are people who are desperate; they feel have nothing to lose. They see no future so they are ready to kill and to be killed. We must identify the problems at the roots of terrorism and find solutions.

As in the fight against AIDS, we must strive not only for cures but also to eliminate the causes. We do not know how long the United Nations will remain inactive. A general assembly must begin soon. The United Nations is a sort of heart for the world: If it stops beating the rest of the world stops too.

Q: Can the United Nations contribute toward eliminating terrorism?

Archbishop Martino: The United Nations has already held a Conference on Terrorism. But there must be political will, on the part of everyone, if we are to solve the problems. Peace is a global process which involves everyone, not only a few. Too many countries take the liberty of turning away, attending to their own interests.

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