Holy See: Disaster Victims Deserve Moral Aid

Archbishop Addresses Red Cross Conference

GENEVA, DEC. 6, 2007 ( Zenit.org).- Victims of natural disasters deserve more than material aid, they deserve the moral, spiritual and psychological support of a society that considers them part of their human family, says the Holy See.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, said this at the 30th International Conference of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent Movement. The conference, entitled “Together for Humanity,” took place Nov. 26-30 in Geneva.

Addressing the international aid agency, Archbishop Tomasi said in English: “Beyond the tragedies and shortcomings of man-made conflicts, tensions and natural disasters, defacing the dignity of every person, a realistic and long-range solution to enhance humanitarian protection rests on the realization that the human family is really one.

“Among today’s global concerns, this 30th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent has singled out for our discussion four particularly threatening developments: pandemics, international migration, urban violence and environmental degradation.

“The Mission of the Holy See recognizes in these challenges a reminder that coexistence among social and political communities, and the construction of a peaceful world order, are only possible on the basis of upholding the fundamental value of every person’s human dignity.”

“The four areas,” the archbishop continued, “that call for our immediate attention have serious humanitarian consequences for contemporary society as well as future generations. The will to work together to find adequate solutions for all cannot be shirked since upon it depends the material and ethical survival of humanity.”

Body and soul

Archbishop Tomasi continued: “It is also vital to realize that the solution to complex problems and emergencies concerning all of humanity are not only of a technical nature and cannot be reduced to mere assistance.

“In this instance, however, victims, both direct and indirect, deserve particular attention and care. In fact, it is the most vulnerable who suffer the worst from natural disasters, conflicts and violence, from the consequences of underdevelopment, poverty and pandemics.”

“These persons, their families and communities, have rights and we need to do everything to respect them,” emphasized the 67-year-old prelate. “Moreover, they deserve our human closeness, our psychological, moral and spiritual support, not as condescending pity, but as the expression of our solidarity. We constitute together one human family.”

“Aid should be given as self-aid,” he added, “in order that local people may strengthen their own capacities and in this way fully exercise their freedom and responsibility.”

Religion’s role

“The different religions alongside other institutions can and must play a positive role,” explained Archbishop Tomasi. “For its part, the Holy See has promoted initiatives of interreligious dialogue, which it considers a fundamental component in the construction of peace and the realization of the common good.”

“As it had pledged in 2003,” he continued, “it has organized an interreligious scholarly event to promote the defense of human dignity and the respect of humanitarian law in case of armed conflict. It looks forward to further initiatives to promote the ethical foundation of humanitarian law and the defense of human dignity also in the case of armed conflict with non-state actors.”

“The exemplary approach of the Red Cross and Red Crescent,” the archbishop concluded, “rests on the ability to break down barriers and to build bridges across conflicting partners, aware of the common humanity binding us and that demands we move forward to the future together.”

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