The Holy See and the United Nations

Working for the Good of the Human Family

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

While Pope Francis continues to draw the attention of the media worldwide, the Holy See’s activity in the United Nations goes largely unnoticed, in spite of the numerous interventions made in various meetings.

In his address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 29 the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, expressed the hope that the newly inaugurated 69th session of the body would work together for a more fraternal and united world.

After mentioning a range of problems such as violence, terrorism, and a lack of respect for religious freedom Cardinal Parolin called for the promotion of a culture of peace.

In the succeeding weeks Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, has given a series of addresses to the UN on a variety of topics.

His Oct. 29 speech on human rights described the right to life as “the foundation of all human rights.” He also mentioned that along with threats to the right to life the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion was being challenged in many parts of the world.

“The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is an inalienable fundamental human right; thus, it has always been and will always be at the core of the struggle for the recognition and free exercise of fundamental human rights,” he stated.

The previous day Archbishop Auza addressed the topic of agriculture and food security. He drew attention to “the paradox that while so many die of hunger, an enormous quantity of food is wasted every day.”

He acknowledged the progress made in reducing the number of people who suffer from chronic hunger, but even with that hundreds of millions of people still do not have enough to eat.

Eradicating hunger is not only a goal of economic development, but a “moral imperative” he insisted.

Referring to the theme of this year’s World Food Day, “Family Farming: feeding the world, caring for the earth,” he said that “the family is key in the fight to end hunger,” and called for a recognition of the role of the family.


Globalization needs to benefit everybody Archbishop Auza declared in his Oct. 27 address on the theme of globalization and interdependence.

Globalization can bring great benefits, but it can also have negative effects on some groups, he mentioned. “Indeed, as with most human endeavors, globalization works for good or ill, depending on the underlying ethic and policies driving the process,” he said.

One challenge of globalization that he mentioned was that of migration, that raises many social, economic, and religious issues. Along with this is the growth in human trafficking and various forms of slavery.

“These modern forms of slavery are the opposite of a globalization driven by the culture of encounter and the values of solidarity and justice,” he declared.

On October 23 Archbishop Auza spoke on the theme of the eradication of poverty. He called for, “evidence-based policies and strategies to combat extreme poverty,” and for a greater degree of solidarity.

He also appealed for a greater inclusion of women in the development of their communities. “Excluding women and girls from education and subjecting them to violence and discrimination violate their inherent dignity and fundamental human rights,” he said.

The situation in the Middle East was another topic dealt with by the Holy See’s ambassador. On October 21 he spoke at a Security Council debate on this issue and explained what Pope Francis had been doing to call for the observance of international law and human rights in the region.

Referring to what he termed “the horrific situation in Syria,” he said that the Holy See “urgently calls on all parties to stop the massive violations of international humanitarian law and fundamental human rights, and on the international community to help the parties find a solution.”

Time for decisions

“With lessons learned from our failure to stop recent horrors of genocide and presently confronted with blatant, massive violations of fundamental human rights and of international humanitarian law, the time is for courageous decisions,” he concluded.

Regarding the 20th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development on October 9 Archbishop Auza explained that the Holy See is aware of the many challenges that exist to ensure economic and social development.

He recalled the need to “to promote and strengthen the family as a vital element toward producing greater social and economic development.”

He also warned against the promotion of ‘reproductive health rights’ detrimental to the unborn human life and the integral needs of women themselves.”

These interventions by the Holy See in the last month are only a part of the addresses and activities undertaken. While it may not make headlines, the engagement of the Catholic Church with representatives of the world’s nations is testimony of a deeply held responsibility to promote the common good of all humanity.

On the Net:

The complete texts of these speeches can be read at the Holy See’s permanent observer Web site:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

Fr. John Flynn

Australia Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales. Licence in Philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University. Bachelor of Arts in Theology from the Queen of the Apostles.

Support ZENIT

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