“Women and girls in conflict situations suffer the trauma of war,” said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See on October 25, 2018. “They lose loved ones, they are driven out from their homes and they suffer the hardships of lack of food, shelter, and medicine.”
His remarks came in an address during the United Nations Security Council, Open Debate on Women, peace, and security in New York.
Following are the Archbishop’s full remarks:
The Holy See extends to the Presidency of the Plurinational State of Bolivia its appreciation for convening this open debate on the important theme of women, peace, and security.
“Women,” as Pope Francis has said, “have the great gift of being able to give life, of being able to give tenderness, of being able to give peace and joy.” When women have the opportunity to pass on their gifts to the entire community, society is inevitably transformed to reflect far better the substantial unity of the human family. The Catholic Church, therefore, recognizes that women are at the forefront of the “revolution of tenderness” that the world urgently needs.
Women offer an important contribution to dialogue with their capacity to listen, to welcome and to open themselves generously to others. Intimately bound to the mystery of life, women can do much to promote the spirit of fraternity, with their care for the preservation of life and with their conviction that love is the only power that can make the world livable for everyone. Indeed, women are often the first ones to accompany others, especially those weakest in the family and in society. They are also those who must face every day related challenges. Moreover, they pay the very high cost of enduring the consequences of conflicts.
Resolution 1325 (2000) remains a significant instrument that stresses the equal participation and full involvement of women in all efforts for the promotion of peace and security. Dialogue and political engagement are in fact a journey that men and women must undertake together. The Holy See, often participating in the intermediary efforts among parties involved in violent conflicts throughout the world, has been pleased to see the leadership of women during these processes.
Women and girls in conflict situations suffer the trauma of war. They lose loved ones, they are driven out from their homes and they suffer the hardships of lack of food, shelter, and medicine. They can also be an all too easy target for enemy soldiers trying to humiliate and inflict pain on opponents. The Holy See strongly condemns, in particular, the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and calls on Member States and non-State actors always to defend women and girls, as well as innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.
The Catholic Church, especially through the activity of its many courageous religious sisters and missionaries, has always defended the dignity and human rights of those enduring conflicts and humanitarian emergencies, by providing physical protection, as well as moral and spiritual support, and working with police and border control agents; facilitating access to justice and humanitarian aid; helping against arbitrary detention; assisting them with access to housing, emergency health care, and education in many cases when there is no one else to provide such basic humanitarian requirements; and mediating tensions with host communities.
The Holy See supports efforts being made to ensure that each woman benefits from assistance as and when this is needed. While acknowledging, however, the particular risks that women and children face in the context of humanitarian emergencies and their specific and integral needs regarding access to basic healthcare, essential obstetric services, sanitary and food security, the Holy See cannot accept as a fitting solution those services that promote and provide abortion, such as those included in the Minimum Initial Service Package for reproductive health (MISP). Humanitarian law and programs are established as measures to support and to save the lives of those who find themselves in critical situations. Humanitarian aid should never be envisaged or – even more so – operate against the right to life: abortion is never a safe solution. The youngest members of the human family cannot be discriminated against based on emergency situations of migration, conflict or disaster. As Pope Francis has emphasized, “Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defense of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be.” Thank you, Mr. President.
1. Pope Francis, Video message to Buenos Aires for National Youth Day, 26 April 2014.
2. Pope Francis, Video message on the occasion of the TED Conference in Vancouver, 26 April 2017.
3. Cf. S/2018/900, 57-58.
4. Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, n. 213.
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