UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says Pope Francis is a man of humility and humanity, and of moral voice and purpose. In an exclusive interview with Vatican Radio in the days ahead of the Pope's Apostolic Visit to the United States and Cuba, Ban Ki-moon made this statement.

Speaking on the Holy Father's upcoming visit to the United States and Cuba, Sept 19-27, during which time Francis will address the UN General Assembly on the 25th, the UN Secretary-General said, “We are looking forward with great excitement [to] His Holiness, Pope Francis’ visit to the United Nations.”

This is the UN Secretary-General's fourth meeting with the Pope, but will be the Pope's first visit to the United Nations. In the history of Vatican - UN relations, this will be the first time in which the Pope visits the UN during a General Assembly.

"Particularly at a time in which this world is experiencing many conflicts: refugees; migration; human rights abuses; climate change," Ban Ki-Moon said, "we really need such a strong moral voice as the Pope’s; on this, the occasion, during which more than 150 heads-of-state and government of the world are gathering, therefore, you cannot expect any greater, more significant and important gathering of the world’s leaders, including the Pope."

“I’m grateful," he added, "for his compassionate leadership for peace and humanity.”

Ban Ki-moon also responded to questions on various other issues including climate change, the refugee crisis in Europe, persecution of minorities, as well as other international political and security issues.

When speaking next about the ongoing refugee crisis in the Mediterranean basin and at European borders, Ban exhorted European leaders to do more to help welcome refugees and migrants. “I commend the leadership and global solidarity the European leaders are showing, but at the same time," he added, "in view of the gravity and the scale of this crisis, I would naturally expect that European leaders should do more.”

Turning to the ongoing war in Syria and the religious and ethnic minorities, especially Christians, being persecuted in the Middle East, Ban Ki-moon responded,“There should be no such discrimination – against anybody – on the basis of any criteria of religion or ethnicity – and it is totally unacceptable to persecute, to discriminate [against] people on the basis of their beliefs – on the basis of who you love, what you believe.”

Under the international refugee convention, international humanitarian laws, and international human rights laws, he stressed that migrants and refugees should be treated humanely and responsibly, and called again on European nations to demonstrate this.

“Therefore," he said, "I am urging European leaders – again – that they should open borders and provide necessary, life-saving humanitarian assistance: we have to show the compassion to these people.” (D.C.L.)


On the NET:

To read the full interview on Vatican Radio: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/09/10/un_sec-gen_pope_francis_a_man_of_moral_voice_and_purpose/1171035