Pope Appeals to UNESCO to Build Bridges of Dialogue to Avoid Wars

At 50th Anniversary of Vatican’s Entry in the Organization

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

PARIS, DEC. 11, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II encouraged UNESCO to foster dialogue among cultures, in a letter marking the 50th anniversary of the Vatican’s entry in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The document was read Tuesday afternoon at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, during a celebrative symposium on the topic «The Church Proposes Truth and Freedom.» Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archbishop of Paris, participated in the event.

During the meeting, mention was made of the May 1952 document in which Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini (the future Paul VI), substitute of the Vatican Secretariat of State, told the director general of UNESCO that Pope Pius XII was appointing Archbishop Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (the future John XXIII) as permanent observer of the Vatican before this organization.

In his letter, John Paul II indicated that the role of this institution consists in «building bridges between people» or «rebuilding them» after wars, especially through the «formation of consciences.»

According to the Pope, this is «one of the most important challenges of globalization, which must not lead to a leveling of values, nor to the sole submission to the laws of the market, but rather to the possibility of placing in common the legitimate riches of each nation at the service of the good of all.»

Cardinal Poupard, in an interview published Sunday in the Italian newspaper Avvenire, said that the entry of the Vatican in UNESCO was the culmination of a five-year path of preparation, which began with a decisive address by Jacques Maritain, the great Catholic intellectual, and at the time interim president of the organization.

According to the cardinal, the Vatican’s contribution to UNESCO has been «to always put the humanist inspiration at the center of attention.»

Today, he added, with the end of the Cold War, UNESCO has the challenge to respond to the new fears of humanity: «blind terrorism and the disquieting frontiers of bioethics.»

Moreover, it must also respond to the question people ask themselves today: «What is the destiny of a man reduced to ‘homo oeconomicus’?»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation