Holy See Urges U.N. to Tackle Problems of World's Youth

«Program of Action» in Focus

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NEW YORK, OCT. 10, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See exhorted the United Nations to identify and provide answers to some of the problems facing the world’s young people.

With 200 million young people living in poverty, 130 million illiterate, 88 million unemployed and 10 million stricken with HIV/AIDS, «the case for a renewed commitment to the goals of the World Program of Action is clear,» said Francis Dionisio, the head of a Holy See delegation.

Dionisio made that point last Thursday in his address to the U.N. General Assembly on the «World Program of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond.»

A «World Youth Report 2000,» presented to the General Assembly, estimates that 15- to 24-year-olds number 1.153 billion, or 18% of the world’s population.

Eight-five percent of these live in developing countries, the report said. Children under 15 constitute 30% of the total world population. Thus, those 24 and under comprise almost half the world’s population.

The «World Youth Report 2000» included an evaluation of what had been achieved 10 years after the approval of the World Program of Action for Youth.

10 areas

The Holy See has closely followed the developments since the launching of the program of action, which points out 10 key areas that affect young people. The 10 areas are: poverty, education, employment, the environment, leisure, participation in decision making, health, drugs, delinquency, and discrimination against girls and young women.

To those areas, five more were added, in the U.N. secretary-general’s report: globalization; information and communication technologies; HIV/AIDS; youth and conflict; and intergenerational relations.

In this connection, Dionisio reiterated the Holy See’s «position on the use of the expression ‘sexual and reproductive health,’ as contained in the report. My delegation understands it as a holistic promotion of the health of women, men, youth and children. It does not consider abortion or access to abortion as a dimension of these terms.»

«The Holy See also continues to be fully committed to the role of youth in ‘the global economy, poverty, education and employment,'» Dionisio continued. «Currently in the world, there are over 196,000 Catholic primary and secondary schools attended by more than 51 million children and youths.

«Additionally, there are almost 1,000 Catholic universities, colleges and other institutes, educating more than 4 million young adults.»

Each person has worth

The figures show that «young people are being helped to receive the education they deserve and are encouraged to give back to others,» the Holy See representative said.

«With respect ‘to youth in relation to society, environment, leisure and participation,’ by means of thousands of youth groups around the world, the Catholic Church shares and promotes the importance of caring for oneself, the environment and one’s peers,» he added.

«Regarding ‘youth at risk, health, drugs, delinquency and discrimination against girls and young women,’ there are almost 12,000 Catholic hospitals and institutions of health care and preventative medicine throughout the world,» Dionisio indicated.

«Trained local professionals, through their work there, support the principle that all human life is sacred, and that each person has worth,» he added. «The young are clearly cared for as precious and vulnerable members of society.

«Mr. President, the ability to accomplish the specific goals of the 10 priorities boils down to commitment. The round-table discussion for young people called it ‘making commitments matter.'»

«We know that we live in a complex and complicated world,» Dionisio said, «and many young people know that such commitment requires three things: recognizing needs, especially in the poorest members of our world; planning a response; and following through.

«The Holy See encourages the U.N. to continue to identify the needs of the world’s young people, especially the poorest and weakest of them.»

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