Holy See Considers the Good and the Bad at UN

Pledges Continued Support to Help Organization Serve Humanity

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NEW YORK, OCT. 8, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See is praising the United Nations for its accomplishments in responding to humanitarian crises, nuclear disarmament, and an arms trade treaty, but deploring a lack of progress on climate change, the lagging economy and ongoing violence.

These were among the observations made Tuesday by Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the Holy See’s permanent observer at the United Nations since July.

The archbishop addressed the general assembly regarding the report of the secretary-general on the work of the organization. He was thus able to give an overview of various themes the Holy See considers essential to the U.N. mission.


One of the first observations made by Archbishop Chullikatt, a native of Bolghatty, India, regarded the international financial crisis. Despite signs of recovery, he said, many of the poorest are still «outside the benefits of this recovery with an additional 64 million people falling into extreme poverty by the end of this year.»

Though acknowledging that the financial crisis has strained the economies even of developed countries, he asserted this should not be an obstacle to development assistance «if nations move resources from programs designed to destroy to those which foster life and development.»

In this regard, the archbishop pointed to the $1.3 trillion spent on arms and military expenditures in 2007.

«This never-ending ability to find funds for military programs highlights yet again the need for individuals and governmental leaders to refocus their priorities and financial commitments,» he stated. «These expenditures are even more troubling when we take into account the facts that over 1.4 billion people around the world live on less than $1.25 per day even though this can be remedied; that universal primary education remains unattained even though this can be addressed; and, that access to clean drinking water and sanitation continues to go unmet even though the capacity to provide remains within our grasp.»

International authority

The 57-year-old archbishop cited Benedict XVI’s «Caritas in Veritate» in affirming the need for an «international political authority which is capable of giving direction to international cooperation and respond to economic crisis and ‘avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration.'»

Listing the principles that must regulate such a body — including subsidiarity, solidarity and the pursuit of the common good — he also said that promoting human and economic development requires respect for «fundamental and authentic human rights which respect the true nature of the human person.»

Chief among these, Archbishop Chullikatt affirmed, is the right to life.

«Population measures and health services which fail to recognize the right to life and the right to found and raise a family undermine the inherent dignity of the human person,» he said.

Next on the list of rights is that of religious freedom, the prelate continued, which «encompasses more than the mere toleration of religion or religious beliefs but also requires the freedom to worship and express one’s faith publicly within society.»

Affirming that violence in the name of God must be condemned, he called for a re-examination of «concepts such as the defamation of religions […] so as to ensure that religious intolerance and incitement to violence are rightly condemned without hindering the right to genuine religious freedom that is beneficial to all.»

Humanitarian needs

The Holy See representative lauded the international response to emergencies such as the earthquake in Haiti and the floods in Pakistan.

He stated: «[T]he international community, when well intentioned to commit itself, can make the world a smaller place capable of caring for people in any corner of the globe. In coordinating these responses, the United Nations system and national political leaders play an important role in ensuring that aid reaches those most in need and in the most effective manner possible.

«However, this coordination must also recognize the particular role of local and faith-based providers in responding to emergency situations.»


Archbishop Chullikatt concluded: «The United Nations has been an important contributor to fostering development and greater peace and security. However, this institution must continue to revitalize its work so as to be more capable of responding to the future needs of the international community consistent with the purposes identified in the Charter.

«While the last year saw the United Nations system responding to a number of difficult humanitarian emergencies, saw the International Criminal Court nearly finalize an amendment on the crime of aggression, witnessed progress on nuclear disarmament, and saw the beginning of negotiations on an arms trade treaty, these welcomed developments were also met by the lack of a final outcome from the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, the lagging global financial recovery, continuing situations of nuclear proliferation that defy national and global security, and the ongoing violence in many corners of the world.

«The Holy See reiterates its commitment to the principles and ideals which founded the United Nations and will continue to work to ensure ‘that the Organization will increasingly serve as a sign of unity between States and an instrument of service to the entire human family.'»

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Full text: www.holyseemission.org/5Oct2010.html

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