Talks for the Holy See (From November 2009)

Cardinal Parolin's Address to 69th Session of UN General Assembly
"The promotion of a culture of peace calls for renewed efforts in favour of dialogue, cultural appreciation and cooperation, while respecting the variety of sensibilities."

NEW YORK, September 30, 2014  - Here below is the address of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, at the 69th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (New York, Monday 29 September 2014).


Mr President,

In extending to you the Holy See’s congratulations on your election to the presidency of the sixty-ninth Session of the General Assembly, I wish to convey the cordial greetings of His Holiness Pope Francis to you and to all the participating delegations. He assures you of his closeness and prayers for the work of this session of the General Assembly, with the hope that it will be carried out in an atmosphere of productive collaboration, working for a more fraternal and united world by identifying ways to resolve the serious problems which beset the whole human family today.

In continuity with his predecessors, Pope Francis recently reiterated the Holy See’s esteem and appreciation for the United Nations as an indispensable means of building an authentic family of peoples. The Holy See values the efforts of this distinguished institution "to ensure world peace, respect for human dignity, the protection of persons, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, and harmonious economic and social development" (Address to the Secretary General of the United Nations and the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, 9 May 2014). Along these lines and on numerous occasions, His Holiness has encouraged men and women of good will to place their talents effectively at the service of all by working together, in tandem with the political community and each sector of civil society (cf. Letter to the World Economic Forum, 17 January 2014).

Though mindful of the human person’s gifts and abilities, Pope Francis observes that today there is the danger of widespread indifference. As much as this indifference concerns the field of politics, it also affects economic and social sectors, "since an important part of humanity does not share in the benefits of progress and is in fact relegated to the status of second-class citizens" (Address of Pope Francis to the Secretary General of the United Nations and the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, 9 May 2014). At times, such apathy is synonymous with irresponsibility. This is the case today, when a union of States, which was created with the fundamental goal of saving generations from the horror of war that brings untold sorrow to humanity (cf. Preamble of the Charter of the United Nations, 1), remains passive in the face of hostilities suffered by defenceless populations.

I recall the words of His Holiness addressed to the Secretary General at the beginning of August: "It is with a heavy and anguished heart that I have been following the dramatic events in northern Iraq", thinking of "the tears, the suffering and the heartfelt cries of despair of Christians and other religious minorities of [that] beloved land". In that same letter the Pope renewed his urgent appeal to the international community to "take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway". He further encouraged "all the competent organs of the United Nations, in particular those responsible for security, peace, humanitarian law and assistance to refugees, to continue their efforts in accordance with the Preamble and relevant Articles of the United Nations Charter" (Letter of the Holy Father to the Secretary General of the United Nations Organization concerning the situation in Northern Iraq, 9 August 2014).

Today I am compelled to repeat the heartfelt appeal of His Holiness and to propose to the General Assembly, as well as to the other competent organs of the United Nations, that this body deepen its understanding of the difficult and complex moment that we are now living.

With the dramatic situation in northern Iraq and some parts of Syria, we are seeing a totally new phenomenon: the existence of a terrorist organization which threatens all States, vowing to dissolve them and to replace them with a pseudo-religious world government. Unfortunately, as the Holy Father recently said, even today there are those who would presume to wield power by coercing consciences and taking lives, persecuting and murdering in the name of God (cf. L’Osservatore Romano, 3 May 2014). These actions bring injury to entire ethnic groups, populations and ancient cultures. It must be remembered that such violence is born out of a disregard for God and falsifies "religion itself, since religion aims instead at reconciling men and women with God, at illuminating and purifying consciences, and at making it clear that each human being is the image of the Creator" (Benedict XVI,Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See, 7 January 2013).

In a world of global communications, this new phenomenon has found followers in numerous places, and has succeeded in attracting from around the world young people who are often disillusioned by a widespread indifference and a dearth of values in wealthier societies. This challenge, in all its tragic aspects, should compel the international community to promote a unified response, based on solid juridical criteria and a collective willingness to cooperate for the common good. To this end, the Holy See considers it useful to focus attention on two major areas. The first is to address the cultural and political origins of contemporary challenges, acknowledging the need for innovative strategies to confront these international problems in which cultural factors play a fundamental role. The second area for consideration is a further study of the effectiveness of international law today, namely its successful implementation by those mechanisms used by the United Nations to prevent war, stop aggressors, protect populations and help victims.

Following the attacks of 11 September 2001, when the world woke up to the reality of a new form of terrorism, some media and "think tanks" oversimplified that tragic moment by interpreting all subsequent and problematic situations in terms of a clash of civilizations. This view ignored longstanding and profound experiences of good relations between cultures, ethnic groups and religions, and interpreted through this lens other complex situations such as the Middle Eastern question and those civil conflicts presently occurring elsewhere. Likewise, there have been attempts to find so-called legal remedies to counter and prevent the surge of this new form of terrorism. At times, unilateral solutions have been favoured over those grounded in international law. The methods adopted, likewise, have not always respected the established order or particular cultural circumstances of peoples who often found themselves unwillingly at the centre of this new form of global conflict. These mistakes, and the fact that they were at least tacitly approved, should lead us to a serious and profound examination of conscience. The challenges that these new forms of terrorism pose should not make us succumb to exaggerated views and cultural extrapolations. The reductionism of interpreting situations in terms of a clash of civilizations, playing on existing fears and prejudices, only leads to reactions of a xenophobic nature that, paradoxically, then serve to reinforce the very sentiments at the heart of terrorism itself. The challenges we face ought to spur a renewed call for religious and intercultural dialogue and for new developments in international law, to promote just and courageous peace initiatives.

What, then, are the paths open to us? First and foremost, there is the path of promoting dialogue and understanding among cultures which is already implicitly contained in the Preamble and First Article of the Charter of the United Nations. This path must become an ever more explicit objective of the international community and of governments if we are truly committed to peace in the world. At the same time we must recall that it is not the role of international organizations or states to invent culture, nor is it possible to do so. Similarly, it is not the place of governments to establish themselves as spokespersons of cultures, nor are they the primary actors responsible for cultural and interreligious dialogue. The natural growth and enrichment of culture is, instead, the fruit of all components of civil society working together. International organizations and states do have the task of promoting and supporting, in a decisive way, and with the necessary financial means, those initiatives and movements which promote dialogue and understanding among cultures, religions and peoples. Peace, after all, is not the fruit of a balance of powers, but rather the result of justice at every level, and most importantly, the shared responsibility of individuals, civil institutions and governments. In effect, this means understanding one other and valuing the other’s culture and circumstances. It also entails having concern for each other by sharing spiritual and cultural patrimonies and offering opportunities for human enrichment.

And yet, we do not face the challenges of terrorism and violence with cultural openness alone. The important path of international law is also available to us. The situation today requires a more incisive understanding of this law, giving particular attention to the "responsibility to protect". In fact, one of the characteristics of the recent terrorist phenomenon is that it disregards the existence of the state and, in fact, the entire international order. Terrorism aims not only to bring change to governments, to damage economic structures or simply to commit common crimes. It seeks to directly control areas within one or various states, to impose its own laws, which are distinct and opposed to those of the sovereign State. It also undermines and rejects all existing juridical systems, attempting to impose dominion over consciences and complete control over persons.

The global nature of this phenomenon, which knows no borders, is precisely why the framework of international law offers the only viable way of dealing with this urgent challenge. This reality requires a renewed United Nations that undertakes to foster and preserve peace. At present, the active and passive participants of such a system are all the states, which place themselves under the authority of the Security Council and who are committed not to engage in acts of war without the approval of the same Council. Within this framework, military action carried out by one state in response to another state is possible only in the event of self-defence when under direct armed attack and only up until such time as the Security Council successfully takes the necessary steps to restore international peace and security (cf. Charter of the United Nations, Art. 51). New forms of terrorism engage in military actions on a vast scale. They are not able to be contained by any one state and explicitly intend to wage war against the international Community. In this sense we are dealing with criminal behaviour that is not envisaged by the juridical configuration of the United Nations Charter. This notwithstanding, it must be recognized that the norms in place for the prevention of war and the intervention of the Security Council are equally applicable, on varying grounds, in the case of a war provoked by a "non-State actor".

In the first place, this is because the fundamental objective of the Charter is to avoid the scourge of war for future generations. The juridical structure of the Security Council, for all its limits and defects, was established for this very reason. Moreover, Article 39 of the Charter of the United Nations assigns the Security Council the task of determining threats or aggressions to international peace, without specifying the type of actors carrying out the threats or aggressions. Finally, the states themselves, by virtue of membership to the UN, have renounced any use of force which is inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations (cf. Charter of the United Nations, Art.2, 4).

Given that the new forms of terrorism are "transnational", they no longer fall under the competence of the security forces of any one state: the territories of several states are involved. Thus the combined forces of a number of nations will be required to guarantee the defence of unarmed citizens. Since there is no juridical norm which justifies unilateral policing actions beyond one’s own borders, there is no doubt that the area of competence lies with the Security Council. This is because, without the consent and supervision of the state in which the use of force is exercised, such force would result in regional or international instability, and therefore enter within the scenarios foreseen by the Charter of the United Nations.

My Delegation wishes to recall that it is both licit and urgent to stop aggression through multilateral action and a proportionate use of force. As a representative body of a worldwide religious community embracing different nations, cultures and ethnicities, the Holy See earnestly hopes that the international community will assume responsibility in considering the best means to stop all aggression and avoid the perpetration of new and even graver injustices. The present situation, therefore, though indeed quite serious, is an occasion for the member states of the United Nations Organization to honour the very spirit of the Charter of the United Nations by speaking out on the tragic conflicts which are tearing apart entire peoples and nations. It is disappointing, that up to now, the international community has been characterized by contradictory voices and even by silence with regard to the conflicts in Syria, the Middle East and Ukraine. It is paramount that there be a unity of action for the common good, avoiding the cross-fire of vetoes. As His Holiness wrote to the Secretary General on 9 August last, "the most basic understanding of human dignity compels the international community, particularly through the norms and mechanisms of international law, to do all that it can to stop and to prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities".

While the concept of "the responsibility to protect" is implicit in the constitutional principles of the Charter of the United Nations and of Humanitarian Law, it does not specifically favour a recourse to arms. It asserts, rather, the responsibility of the entire international community, in a spirit of solidarity, to confront heinous crimes such as genocide, ethnic cleansing and religiously motivated persecution. Here with you today, I cannot fail to mention the many Christians and ethnic minorities who in recent months have endured atrocious persecution and suffering in Iraq and Syria. Their blood demands of us all an unwavering commitment to respect and promote the dignity of every single person as willed and created by God. This means also respect for religious freedom, which the Holy See considers a fundamental right, since no one can be forced "to act against his or her conscience", and everyone "has the duty and consequently the right to seek the truth in religious matters" (Second Vatican Council, Dignitatis Humanae, 3).

In summary, the promotion of a culture of peace calls for renewed efforts in favour of dialogue, cultural appreciation and cooperation, while respecting the variety ofsensibilities. What is needed is a far-sighted political approach that does not rigidly impose a priori political models which undervalue the sensibilities of individual peoples. Ultimately, there must be a genuine willingness to apply thoroughly the current mechanisms of law, while at the same time remaining open to the implications of this crucial moment. This will ensure a multilateral approach that will better serve human dignity, and protect and advance integral human development throughout the world. Such a willingness, when concretely expressed in new juridical formulations, will certainly bring fresh vitality to the United Nations. It will also help resolve serious conflicts, be they active or dormant, which still affect some parts of Europe, Africa and Asia, and whose ultimate resolution requires the commitment of all.

Mr President,

With Resolution A/68/6 of the 68th Session of the General Assembly, it was decided that this present Session would discuss the Post-2015 Development Agenda, to be then formally adopted in the 70th Session in September 2015. You yourself, Mr President, aptly chose the main theme of this present Session: Delivering and Implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda.

During your recent meeting with all the Chief Executives of Agencies, Funds and Programs of the United Nations (cf. Address to the Secretary General of the United Nations and the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, 9 May 2014), His Holiness requested that future objectives for sustainable development be formulated "with generosity and courage, so that they can have a real impact on the structural causes of poverty and hunger, attain more substantial results in protecting the environment, ensure dignified and productive labour for all, and provide an appropriate protection for the family, which is an essential element in sustainable human and social development. Specifically, this involves challenging all forms of injustice and resisting the ‘economy of exclusion’, the ‘throwaway culture’ and the ‘culture of death’". Pope Francis encouraged the Chief Executives to promote "a true, worldwide ethical mobilization which, beyond all differences of religious or political convictions, will spread and put into practice a shared ideal of fraternity and solidarity, especially with regard to the poorest and those most excluded" (ibid).

In this regard, the Holy See welcomes the 17 "Sustainable Development Goals" proposed by the Working Group (Open Working Group for Sustainable Goals), which seek to address the structural causes of poverty by promoting dignified labour for everyone. Equally, the Holy See appreciates that the goals and targets, for most part, do not echo wealthy populations’ fears regarding population growth in poorer countries. It also welcomes the fact that the goals and targets do not impose on poorer states lifestyles which are typically associated with advanced economies and which tend to show a disregard for human dignity. Furthermore, with regard to the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the incorporation of the results of the OWG [Open Working Group for Sustainable Goals], alongside the indications given in the Report of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing and those arising out of the interagency consultation, would seem indispensable for the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Nevertheless, and notwithstanding the efforts of the United Nations and of many people of good will, the number of the poor and excluded is increasing not only in developing nations but also in developed ones. The "Responsibility to protect", as stated earlier, refers to extreme aggressions against human rights, cases of serious contempt of humanitarian law or grave natural catastrophes. In a similar way there is a need to make legal provision for protecting people against other forms of aggression, which are less evident but just as serious and real. For example, a financial system governed only by speculation and the maximization of profits, or one in which individual persons are regarded as disposable items in a culture of waste, could be tantamount, in certain circumstances, to an offence against human dignity. It follows, therefore, that the UN and its member states have an urgent and grave responsibility for the poor and excluded, mindful always that social and economic justice is an essential condition for peace.

Mr President,

Each day of the 69th Session of the General Assembly, and indeed of the next four Sessions, up until November 2018, will bear the sad and painful memory of the futile and inhumane tragedy of the First World War (a senseless slaughter, as Pope Benedict XV referred to it), with its millions of victims and untold destruction. Marking the centenary of the start of the conflict, His Holiness Pope Francis expressed his desire that "the mistakes of the past are not repeated, that the lessons of history are acknowledged, and that the causes for peace may always prevail through patient and courageous dialogue" (Angelus, 27 July 2014). On that occasion, the thoughts of His Holiness focused particularly on three areas of crisis: the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine. He urged all Christians and people of faith to pray to the Lord to "grant to these peoples and to the Leaders of those regions the wisdom and strength needed to move forward with determination on the path toward peace, to address every dispute with the tenacity of dialogue and negotiation and with the power of reconciliation. May the common good and respect for every person, rather than specific interests, be at the centre of every decision. Let us remember that in war all is lost and in peace nothing" (ibid).

Mr President,

In making my own the sentiments of the Holy Father, I fervently hope that they may be shared by all present here. I offer to each of you my best wishes for your work, while trusting that this Session will spare no effort to put to an end the clamour of weapons that marks existing conflicts and that it will continue to foster the development of the entire human race, and in particular, the poorest among us.

Thank you, Mr President.


Holy See's Comments to Observations From UN Committee on Rights of the Child
"The Committee has overlooked important distinctions between the Holy See, Vatican City State and the universal Catholic Church"

VATICAN CITY, September 26, 2014  - Here are comments released by the Holy See regarding the Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

* * *

1. The Holy See is well aware of its position within the international juridical system, as a sovereign subject of international law, as well as of its obligations as a State Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its Optional Protocols, which has been clearly articulated in its ReportsWritten Replies and statements made during the inter-active dialogue. At this point, and pursuant to art. 45 (d) of the CRC, the Holy See intends to comment on certain passages contained in the Concluding Observations (CRC/C/VAT/CO/2; CRC/C/OPSC/VAT/CO/1; CRC/C/OPAC/VAT/CO/1) presented by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (hereinafter “Committee”), on 5 February 2014.[1]

2. In specific regard to the Concluding Observations CRC/C/VAT/CO/2, the Holy See underlines that in executing the obligations under the CRC, its conduct has always been inspired by general principles of international law, which include respecting in good faith the obligations deriving from treaties.[2] The specific details are set out in theSecond Periodic Report (CRC/C/VAT/2) and in the Written Replies to the List of Issues of the Committee (CRC/C/VAT/Q/2/Add.1). The Holy See has acted in a similar way in relation to the application of the Optional Protocols as specified in its Initial Reports (CRC/C/OPSC/VAT/1 and CRC/C/OPAC/VAT/1) and in the Written Repliesof the Holy See to the List of Issues of the Committee (CRC/C/OPSC/ VAT/Q/2/Add.1).

3. The Holy See, in affirming its proper nature as a subject of international law, reiterates that the international obligations contracted upon adherence to the CRC, with reservations[3] and interpretative declaration[4], and its Optional Protocols are fulfilled first and foremost through the implementation of the aforementioned duties within the territory of the Vatican City State (VCS), over which the Holy See exercises full territorial sovereignty.Beyond this geographic territory, which it administers, the Holy See disseminates principles recognized in the CRC to all people of goodwill and to various local Catholic churches and institutions, which operate in different States in compliance with national laws. Therefore, the obligations of the Convention and its Optional Protocols refer to Vatican citizens, as well as, where appropriate, the diplomatic personnel of the Holy See or its Officials residing outside the territory of Vatican City State.[5] The Holy See does not have the capacity or legal obligation to impose the abovementioned principles upon the local Catholic churches and institutions present on the territory of other States and whose activities abide with national laws. The Holy See, in accordance with the rules of international law, is aware that attempting to implement the CRC in the territory of other States could constitute a violation of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of States.

4. In light of the above, the Holy See takes note with satisfaction that the Committee has considered this position, indicating that itis “aware” of “the Holy See’s ratification of the Convention as the Government of the Vatican City State, and also as a sovereign subject of international law having an original, non-derived legal personality independent of any territorial authority or jurisdiction”, and that the Committee is “fully conscious that bishops and major superiors of religious institutes do not act as representatives or delegates of the Roman Pontiff ” (CRC/C/VAT/CO/2, para. 8).

5. Indeed, as regards implementation of its obligations under the Convention and its Optional Protocols, the Holy See, for example, has made significant amendments to the criminal laws of Vatican City State. As was emphasized in the Second Periodic Report on the CRC and in the Initial Reports on the Optional Protocols, in the Written Replies to the List of Issues of the Committee as well as in the interactive dialogue with the Committee, the Holy See has executed its commitments within the territory of VCS, where it has the obligation to implement the Convention and its Protocols.

6. On the other hand, by rejecting the consistent position expressed in international law and practice, and despite repeated explanations of the Holy See in its Reports,[6] Written Replies[7] and interactive dialogue,[8] the Committee has overlooked important distinctionsbetween the Holy See, Vatican City State and the universal Catholic Church. This, inter alia, has led to a grave misunderstanding of the Holy See’s international legal obligations under the Convention.[9]

7. The profundity of confusion regarding the nature of the Holy See, its internal legal order as well as its international legal personality, is fully revealed, for example, in Concluding Observation para. 8 (CRC/C/VAT/CO/2),[10] when “religious obedience”, [11] in canons 331 and 590 of the Codex Iuris Canonici (CIC), is interpreted to construct a new form of “ecclesial governance,”[12] where the Holy See is required to control the daily activities of clerics, religious and laypersons, living in the territories of sovereign States. [13]

8. In reference to the abovementioned canonical norms, the Holy See, as a sovereign subject of international law, reserves to itself the exclusive competence to interpret its internal fundamental norms, in conformity with pertinent international law, including the freedom of religion, with specific reference to the exclusive power of faith communities to organize and govern their internal affairs.[14]

9. In addition, the Holy See wishes to underline that the treaty body has plunged into canon law, which is a juridical system, however, not equivalent to that of States. In other words, only the laws of the territory of Vatican City State are comparable to those of other States Parties to the Convention.Unsurprisingly, the position in para. 8 (CRC/C/VAT/CO/2) based on an erroneous interpretation of Canons 331 and 590, is fundamentally flawed, and in response, the Holy See reaffirms the following points found in either its ReportsWritten Replies orstatements during the interactive dialogue:

a. That canon law is a “complex unity of divine positive law, divine natural law and human law which reflect the Catholic Church: its origin, means, spiritual and moral mission, organizational structure, supernatural end, spiritual and temporal goods,” signifies that it differs from the laws of other States, in fundamental respects;[15]

b. That the Church is a “communion” of mutual relationships means that interaction between the particular and the universal Church must “respect the principles of collegiality and primacy and the duties and rights in canon law of all members of Christ’s faithful;”[16]

c. That the “religious obedience” of Bishops and religious Superiors concerns the unity of the doctrine of the Catholic faith and of the Catholic Church, founded and constituted as a society by Jesus Christ based on the communion of faith, sacraments and discipline, which are freely adhered to by members of the faithful[17];

d. That penal canon law provides certain sanctions for breaches concerning the public order of the ecclesial society (e.g. dismissal from the clerical state, penances) means it “differs greatly from State criminal law and [is] not intended to usurp or otherwise interfere with them or with State civil actions.”[18] In specific regard to the distinctions between penal canon law and State criminal laws, the Holy See refers State Parties to its Second Periodic Report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child.[19]

10. Of general concern, for all States Parties, should be the fact that para. 8 (CRC/C/VAT/CO/2) offers a controversial new approach to “jurisdiction”, which clearly contradicts the general understanding of this concept in international law.

a) In particular, para. 8 contends that “by ratifying the Convention[20] a State Party has “committed itself to implementing the Convention” through “individuals and institutions” living and operating in the territories of other States.[21] In the case of the Holy See, this amounts to a sort of “universal legal jurisdiction” over most States Parties.

b) This interpretation is contrary to obligations under the CRC, which are prima facie territorial, taking into consideration the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, and a facial reading of the treaty together with the general understanding of jurisdiction as previously discussed in the Holy See’s Written Replies.[22]

c) Due to the grave implications of this erroneous approach for relations between States, the Holy See emphasizes, once again, that in accordance with international law and State practice, the Holy See does not ratify a treaty on behalf of every Catholic in the world, and therefore, does not have obligations to “implement” the Convention within the territories of other States Parties on behalf of Catholics, no matter how they are organized.[23]

d) Moreover, the Holy See’s religious and moral mission, which transcends geographical boundaries, cannot be transformed into a sort of “universal legal jurisdiction”, which somehow becomes a matter under the mandate of a treaty body.

11. Before moving on to other issues, the Holy See, while maintaining its position on jurisdiction set out in Written Reply no. 32, wishes to correct the statement made in Written Reply no. 34 (CRC/C/VAT/Q/2/Add.1), wherein it refers to the “openness of the religious sisters to engage in discussions about issues of compensation, and their willingness to pay part of a compensation package developed by State authorities”. Rather, religious sisters had agreed with the Government of Ireland to pay a specific sum of money in relation to a “redress scheme” in 2002 concerning other entities, which did not include the institution under discussion.

12. As for the recommendations concerning the situations described in paragraphs 37-39 of the Concluding Observations (CRC/C/VAT/CO/2), such matters fall within the jurisdiction of the States in which the Catholic institutions operate. The functioning of these entities must be carried out in accordance with national laws and with respect for the competent State authorities tasked with investigating, prosecuting and punishing crimes or other illicit acts committed against children by members of these institutions.

13. As for para. 40 (b) (CRC/C/VAT/CO/2), the Holy See emphasizes that the criminal laws of Vatican City State punish acts of violence against children residing within this territory in accordance with due process and appropriate penalties upon findings of guilt: Law n. VIII, Complementary Norms in Criminal Matter, of 11 July 2013, Title II, and Law n. IX: Law Modifying the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure, of 11 July 2013.

14. In regard to recommendations concerning the accession to international instruments contained in Concluding Observations (CRC/C/VAT/CO/2), paragraphs 44 (j) and 62, the Holy See reaffirms that it operates within the international community like other subjects of international law, while maintaining its specific mission and end. For this reason, the Holy See has always sought to become a part of international multilateral conventions regulating various areas, also on behalf of Vatican City State, with the necessary evaluation of these conventional norms in respect to its nature and to the particular function of its internal juridical system. Pursuant to the principles and rules of international law, the Holy See accedes to conventions that do not contradict the character of its mission and the nature of its own internal juridical system or that directly support specific norms within its juridical system. Moreover, it is noteworthy to recall the well-known position of the Holy See that it becomes a State Party to certain conventions in order to contribute with its moral support in the construction of an opinio juris to encourage a rapid entry into force of the conventions and their effective observance.

15. Moreover, the Holy See highlights that the Committee makes certain recommendations that disregard principles of international law that underpin every treaty (e.g. the sovereign equality and independence of all States, the non-interference in the domestic affairs of States as well as the principles of free consent, good faith and pacta sunt servanda rule).[24] For example, certain Concluding Observations (CRC/C/VAT/CO/2) : a) disregard a State Party’s own account of what it consented to when it ratified a treaty;[25] b) adopt an erroneous view of the State Party based on an unusual interpretation of what was perceived to be the internal law of a State Party;[26]c) recommend investigations, the enactment of laws, and the development of policies within the territorial jurisdiction of other States[27] (with indifference to the territorial sovereignty of other States and the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of other States); and d) ignore the reservations and interpretative declaration of a State Party. [28]

16. The Holy See is concerned about the lack of respect for the text of a treaty, which has been carefully drafted by States Parties, including the Holy See itself (the fourth State Party to ratify the CRC). In this regard, the Holy See in its Second Periodic Report and Written Replies has duly noted the introduction of new terms or principles by the Committee, which in its view marks a departure from the ordinary meaning of the words in the text.[29] The Holy See ratified the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and is bound to follow the rules of interpretation therein. In addition, the Holy See reaffirms its own reservations, interpretative declaration as well as long standing principles recognized in international law as well as the Convention.[30]

17. Of particular concern in the Concluding Observations is the advancement of controversial new expressions not contained in the Convention, and related principles, which contradict the ordinary meaning of the words in the text, and fail to respect the spirit of the CRC. In addition, these particular expressions are the subject matter of much debate on the international level, and certainly, have not been agreed to or otherwise accepted by the Holy See.[31]

a) In a clear and open violation of the “ordinary meaning” of the terms of the CRC “in their context and in the light of its object and purpose”,[32] the Concluding Observations advocate for “abortion.[33] This is completely unacceptable and such a recommendation is incompatible with the fundamental purpose and function of the international legal order.[34] According to the CRC, children, defined as under 18 (art. 1), require “legal protection, before as well as after birth,” (preamble para. 9). By doing do, theConcluding Observations derogates from the child’s “right to life” (art. 6) as well as his or her right to“pre-natal and post-natal health care” (art. 24.2.d). In addition, it deviates from the principle that children should not be discriminated against on the basis of “birth” (art. 2).

b) The Holy See recognizes the variety of situations in which people live, and many due to tragic circumstances, however, the Concluding Observations promote “diverse forms of family”[35]as a matter of principle. This expression is not found in the Convention, nor is it defined. It is worth noting that according to the International Bill of Human Rights both States and society have an obligation to protect the family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, the “natural and fundamental group unit of society”.[36] The Convention recognizes this principle when it incorporates the International Bill of Human Rights in preamble paragraphs. 3-4 and acknowledges the family as “the fundamental group of society andthe natural environment for the growth and well-being of …children,” which “should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community” (preamble para. 5, CRC).

c) In further regard to the natural family, the term “family planning” is used in the Convention. The Holy See pursuant to its reservation interprets the expression to mean only morally acceptable methods, that is, the natural methods.[37] The expression “contraception[38] is not contained in the text of the CRC.

d) With respect to the rights of parents, “both parents have common responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the child” (art. 18 CRC), they have prior rights “to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children” (preamble para. 3, CRC incorporates UDHR art. 26.3 by reference) and education should include “development of respect for the child’s parents” (art. 29 (1) (c) CRC). However, a State Party is urged to ensure “sexual and reproductive health education” and “sexual and reproductive health and information.[39] These expressions are not found in the text of the Convention nor are they defined in international law. On this matter, the Holy See takes the opportunity to reaffirm that the education of children (defined in art.1 CRC), boys and girls, including education about authentic human love, human sexuality, married love and related matters are primarily and fundamentally the right, duty, and responsibility of parents.[40] The international principle regarding religious freedom recognizes that parents have the right to ensure that their childreceives a religious and moral education in conformity with their own convictions, which also guarantees the freedom to teach a religion or belief.[41]

e) In the Concluding Observations, the principle of equality between men and women (boys and girls) (art. 2 CRC; cf. preamble para. 5, UDHR) and the principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of sex (preamble para. 3, art. 2, CRC) are discussed within the context of “gender”, which is a word not contained in the text, and apparently employed to incorporate a larger ideological platform. In this latter regard, references to inherent dignity (preamble paras. 1-2, CRC) and inherent equality between the two sexes are dismissed as examples of “gender-based discrimination[42], while subjective lifestyle choices and attractions are promoted as a matter of “rights”: “same sex couples”;[43]“sexual orientation”.[44] With reference to the term “gender”, the Holy See reiterates its position set out in para. 36 of its Second Periodic Report.[45]

18. The fundamental premises contained in Concluding Observation para. 8 distort the entire Concluding Observations and launch the Committee into matters protected by the right to freedom of religion.[46] For example, suggestions are made relating to: a) the interpretation of scripture;[47] b) changes to faith and morals;[48] d) amendments to canon law;[49] and e) revision of ecclesial governance.[50]

19. Moreover, many of the recommendations noted in paras. 16-17 supra, may also be viewed through the prism of religious freedom, in particular regard to the autonomy of religious communities to express their doctrine, manifest their faith and worship. From this perspective, the Holy See offered a more profound understanding of inherent human dignity, as founded on the image and likeness of God, and equality between men and women, as being in harmony with the fundamental complementarity of men and women and their call to communion. In response, however, the Concluding Observations state: “complementarity and equality in dignity [are] two concepts which differ from equality in law and practice” and “justify discriminatory legislation and policies.”[51] In addition, the Holy See emphasizes that the “concept of human rights” cannot be juxtaposed with the freedom of religion, as if the latter did not constitute a fundamental human right.

20. Other comments, for example, made in the Concluding Observations promote negative stereotyping and manifestations of intolerance against members of the Catholic religion. For example, the Concluding Observationsallege that the “complementarity” between the two sexes and the “equality in dignity” of males and females “justify discriminatory legislation and practices”.[52] In addition, promotion of the protection of the family, based on marriage between one man and one woman means that “Church run institutions” discriminate against “children on the basis of their family situation.”[53] A reasonable observer might argue that the principle of non-discrimination has been applied in an unprincipled way, namely as a sword against freedom of religion.

21. Moreover, many of the recommendations noted in paras. 17-20 supra, deal with matters to which the Holy See has entered reservations and interpretative declaration, and therefore do not respect arts. 2 (d); 19-21 of Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.[54] Indeed, they completely disregard the Declaration of the State Party at the moment of its accession to the CRC, according to which “…the Holy See, in acceding to this Convention, does not intend to prescind in any way from its specific mission which is of a religious and moral character.”[55]

22. The Concluding Observations include inaccurate statements that have no evidentiary foundation.[56] Moreover, many materials presented by the Holy See, especially regarding child protection were dismissed or ignored.[57]Lastly, it is noteworthy, that answers given by a State Party not considered in line with certain suggestions does not mean that a reply to a question has not been given. For example, the Holy See was repeatedly asked the same query on various matters (e.g. discrimination based on sex, views of the child, the meaning of family, reservations, new expressions not accepted by the State Party, and matters falling within the territorial jurisdiction of other States). Indeed, the interactive dialogue largely involved the repetition of questions in the Committee’s List of Issuesto which the Holy See had previously responded in its Written Replies, which, in turn, left the impression that the interactive dialogue was predetermined by Concluding Observations that had already been prepared.

23. In conclusion, as was clearly explained during the interactive dialogue with the Committee on 16 January 2014, and keeping in mind the concerns raised in paras. 6-10; 15-22 supra, the Holy See:

a) Reiterates its commitment to make protection of the child a priority, in all situations, and continue to take appropriate measures pursuant to the Convention and its Optional Protocols, as unequivocally set out in its ReportsWritten Replies and statements during the interactive dialogue;

b) Confirms its willingness to implement the Convention and its Optional Protocols, in accordance with its own nature and mission, and to consider, in a similar way, the pertinent suggestions proposed by the Committee, in line with its moral and religious mission, for a better implementation of its treaty obligations and for a systematic preparation and presentation of its Periodic Reports;

c) Reaffirms also as a sovereign of the Vatican City State, that implementation of the norms of the Convention and its Optional Protocols, as well as the relevant recommendations by the Committee, will be exclusively considered in light of its specific nature and mission (see paras. 3 and 6 supra), as recognized by the international juridical system.[58]


[1] The Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations on the Second Periodic Report of the Holy See on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, CRC/C/VAT/CO/2, 31 January 2014; The Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations on the Initial Report of the Holy See on the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, CRC/C/OPSC/VAT/CO/1, 31 January 2014; The Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations on the Initial Report of the Holy See on the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, CRC/C/OPAC/VAT/CO/1, 31 January 2014.

[2] See e.g.,preamble and art. 26, Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1155, p. 331 (23 May 1969).

[3] Reservations of the Holy See: "a) [The Holy See] interprets the phrase `Family planning education and services' in article 24.2, to mean only those methods of family planning which it considers morally acceptable, that is, the natural methods of family planning.

"b) [The Holy See] interprets the articles of the Convention in a way which safeguards the primary and inalienable rights of parents, in particular insofar as these rights concern education (articles 13 and 28), religion (article 14), association with others (article 15) and privacy (article 16).

"c) [The Holy See declares] that the application of the Convention be compatible in practice with the particular nature of the Vatican City State and of the sources of its objective law (art. 1, Law of 7 June 1929, n. 11) and, in consideration of its limited extent, with its legislation in the matters of citizenship, access and residence."

[4] Declaration of the Holy See on the CRC: “The Holy See regards the present Convention as a proper and laudable instrument aimed at protecting the rights and interests of children, who are 'that precious treasure given to each generation as a challenge to its wisdom and humanity' (Pope John Paul II, 26 April 1984).

"The Holy See recognizes that the Convention represents an enactment of principles previously adopted by the United Nations, and once effective as a ratified instrument, will safeguard the rights of the child before as well as after birth, as expressly affirmed in the `Declaration of the Rights of the Child' [Res. 136 (XIV)] and restated in the ninth preambular paragraph of the Convention. The Holy See remains confident that the ninth preambular paragraph will serve as the perspective through which the rest of the Convention will be interpreted, in conformity with article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 23 May 1969.

“By acceding to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Holy See intends to give renewed expression to its constant concern for the well-being of children and families. In consideration of its singular nature and position, the Holy See, in acceding to this Convention, does not intend to prescind in any way from its specific mission which is of a religious and moral character”.

[5] Apostolic Letter, issued MOTU PROPRIO, Roman Pontiff Francis, On the Jurisdiction of Judicial Authorities of Vatican City State in Criminal Matters, 11 July 2013, entered into force 1 September 2013.

[6] The Holy See, Initial Report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, CRC/C/3/Add.27, March 28, 1994, at paras. 1-2; The Holy See, Second Periodic Report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, CRC/C/VAT/2, October 22, 2012, at paras. 1-5; The Holy See, Initial Report on the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Prostitution, CRC/C/OPSC/VAT/1, November 8 2012, at paras. 4-5; The Holy See, Initial Periodic Report to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, CRC/C/OPAC/VAT/1, October 22, 2012, at paras. 4-5.

[7] The Holy See, Written Replies to the List of Issues in relation to its Second Periodic Report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, CRC/C/VAT/Q/2 Add.1, January 9, 2014, at paras. 6-8; The Holy See, Written Replies to the List of Issues in relation to its Initial Report on the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Prostitution, CRC/C/OPSC/VAT/Q/1 Add.1 January 9, 2014, at paras. 6-8.

[8] The Holy See, Presentation of Reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child at the Interactive Dialogue, 65th Session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (13-31 January 2014), 16 January 2014.

[9] The “moral authority” or “moral leadership” of the Holy See, referred to several times by the Committee (see e.g., CRC/C/OPSC/VAT/CO/1, supra note 1, at paras. 16, 21), does not constitute legally binding authority over anyone. Such leadership cannot be transformed into a treaty obligation. That the central organ of the Church has openly “shared” best practices, especially about child protection going well beyond its strict obligations under the CRC, should not be misinterpreted as suggesting that intra-Church matters fall within the mandate of a treaty body.

[10] CRC/C/VAT/CO/2, supra note 1, at para. 8; see also CRC/C/OPSC/VAT/CO/1, supra note 1, at para. 3; see the same line of reasoning in CRC/C/OPAC/VAT/CO/1, supra note 1, at para. 7, 13-14.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] See e.g., CRC/C/VAT/CO/2, supra note 1, at para. 41 (“The Committee is also concerned that in spite of its considerable influence on Catholic families the Holy See has still not adopted a comprehensive strategy to prevent abuse and neglect in the home”). See also paras. 22; 32 (c); 41-43; 51.

[14]See e.g., Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 22 (48) (art.18), Doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.4.

[15] CRC/C/VAT/2, supra note 6, at para. 97.

[16] CRC/C/VAT/Q/2/Add.1, supra note 7, at para. 8.

[17] CRC/C/VAT/2, supra note 6, at para. 97; see also e.g., Comité des droits de l’enfant, Soixante-cinquième session Compte rendu analytique de la 1852ͤ séance, CRC/C/SR.1852, 21 janvier, 2014, at paras. 36, 41- 42.

[18] CRC/C/VAT/2, supra note 6, at para. 98.

[19]Id. at paras. 98 a-h.

[20] See e.g.,Convention on the Rights of the Child, G.A. Res. 44/25, at art. 49 (2), U.N. Doc. A/Res/44/25 (20 November 1989). In addition, the argument is framed in a manner that contradicts the plain meaning of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which, according to art. 49 (2) of the CRC, provides that States Parties are bound by their treaty obligations when the treaty enters “into force on the thirtieth day after deposit by such [twentieth] State of its instrument of ratification or accession”, and not upon ratification, as suggested by theConcluding Observations.

[21] CRC/C/VAT/CO/2, supra note 1, at para. 8; see also CRC/C/OPSC/VAT/CO/1, supra note 1, at para. 3; see e.g.,the same line of reasoning in CRC/C/OPAC/VAT/CO/1, supra note 1, at para. 7, 13-14.

[22]CRC/C/VAT/Q/2 Add.1, supra note 7, at para. 10; Cf. Convention on the Rights of the Childsupra note 20, at arts. 2; 10.2; 7.2, 20.2; 22.1, 44.2; 44.6.

[23] See e.g., CRC/C/VAT/CO/2, supra note 1, at paras.16; 18; 20; 22; 24; 30; 32; 34; 40; 42; 49; 51; 53; 57; 59; 61; 63; CRC/C/OPSC/VAT/CO/1, supra note 1, at paras. 16, 18, 24, 26; CRC/C/OPAC/VAT/CO/1, supra note 1, at paras. 7, 13-14, 18.

[24] See. e.g.,the recognition of these principles in the preamble of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties,supra note 2.

[25] CRC/C/VAT/CO/2, supra note 1, at para. 8; See also CRC/C/OPSC/VAT/CO/1, supra note 1, at para. 3.

[26] Id.

[27] See e.g., CRC/C/VAT/CO/2, supra note 1, at paras. 16; 18; 20; 22; 24; 30; 32; 34; 40; 42; 49; 51; 53; 57; 59; 61; 63.

[28] CRC/C/VAT/CO/2, para.12 (reservations, generally); para. 31 (reservation on the rights and duties of parents); paras. 36, 56 (reservation on family planning); para.55 (interpretative declaration on the right to life).

[29] See e.g.,CRC/C/VAT/2, supra note 6, at paras. 18; 36 and both sets of Written Replies, generally: CRC/C/VAT/Q/2 Add.1 and CRC/C/OPSC/VAT/Q/1 Add.1, supra note 7.

[30] See e.g., CRC/C/VAT/2, supra note 6, at paras. 23 a-n: (e.g. equality between women and men; special protection due to the family, the natural and fundamental unit of society; the right to life of the child, before as well as after birth; and the prior right of parents before the State to educate their child).

[31] In particular regard to these disputed terms, the Holy See takes the opportunity once again to reaffirm its position: “The three Reservations and the Interpretative Declaration are even more important given the attempted redefinition or creation of new terms and/or rights and/or principles, which do not correspond to an authentic and holistic vision of the human person and his or her rights and duties, nor present a good faith interpretation of the Convention’s text. The Holy See has never agreed to such terms, rights or principles often contained in the Committee’s General Comments and its Concluding Observations, and they certainly do not enjoy international consensus.” (CRC/C/VAT/2, para. 18).

[32] Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, supra note 2, at art. 31. 1.

[33] See e.g., CRC/C/VAT/CO/2, supra note 1, at para. 55.

[34] See e.g., Rome Statute of International Criminal Court, U.N. Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, 17 July 1998, U.N. Doc. A/CONF. 183/9 (1998), art. 7.2. f (situations that are relevant to pregnancy “shall not in any way be interpreted as affecting national laws relating to pregnancy”).

[35] See e.g., CRC/C/VAT/CO/2, supra note 1, at para. 48.

[36] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, G.A. Res. 217 (III) A, at art. 16, U.N. Doc. A/RES/217 (III) (10 December 1948); International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, G.A., Res. 2200A (XXI ), at art. 23, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (16 December 1966); International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, G.A. Res. 2200 (XXI) A, at 10., U.N. Doc. A/6316 (16 December 1966).

[37] In its first reservation the Holy See stated the following: (“ [The Holy See] interprets the phrase `Family planning education and services' in article 24.2, to mean only those methods of family planning which it considers morally acceptable, that is, the natural methods of family planning ).. See also the Holy See’s response to the Committee on this topic CRC/C/VAT/2, supra note 6, at para. 51.

[38] See e.g., CRC/C/VAT/CO/2, supra note 1, at para. 56-57.

[39] Id., atpara. 57 (c).

[40] Id., at para. 30-31; See also the Holy See’s Position on the Conference Outcome Document at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995); See also the Holy See’s Position on the Outcome Document at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo (1994 ).

[41] International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights supra note 36, at art. 13.3; See also HRC,General Comment No. 22 (48) (art.18), Doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.4, at paras. 6 and 8.

[42] See e.g., CRC/C/VAT/CO/2 , supra note 1, at para. 27-28.

[43] Id., at para. 25.

[44] Id., at para. 26.

[45] CRC/C/VAT/2, supra note 6, at para. 36 (“The Holy See understands gender “according to ordinary usage in the United Nations context, associates itself with the common meaning of that word, in languages where it exists…[as] grounded in biological sexual identity, male or female….”).

[46] See, e.g. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, supra note 36, at art. 18; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, supra note 36, at art. 18.

[47] CRC/C/VAT/CO/2, supra note 1, at para. 40.d.

[48] See e.g., the Concluding Observations take issue with: “statements and declarations on homosexuality” (CRC/C/VAT/CO/2, supra note 1, at para. 25); the principle of “complementarity and equality in dignity” between the two sexes (Id., at para. 22); promotion of the family, based on marriage between one man and one woman (Id., at para. 48); the Holy See’s “position on abortion” and “contraception” (See e.gId., at paras. 55, 56, respectively).

[49] See e.g., CRC/C/VAT/CO/2, supra note 1, at paras. 14; 40.b; 40; See also e.g. CRC/C/OPSC/VAT/CO/1, supranote 1, at paras. 11-12, 30.

[50] CRC/C/VAT/CO/2, supra note 1, at paras. 16; 18; 20; 22; 24; 30; 32; 34; 40; 42; 49; 51; 53; 57; 59; 61; 63.

[51] Id., at para. 27 (The Holy See argued that each “human being is created in the image and likeness of God”. Moreover, it contended that the principle of complementarity between the two sexes better reflected an objective reality and avoided two extreme views of equality: one that would promote indistinct uniformity, on the one hand, or perpetuate irreconcilable and conflicting differences, on the other hand).

[52] Id., at paras. 27-28.

[53] Id., at paras. 48-49.

[54] Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, supra note 2, at art. 2, (d): (“‘Reservation’ means a unilateral statement, however phrased or named, made by a State, when signing, ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding to a treaty, whereby it purports to exclude or to modify the legal effect of certain provisions of the treaty in their application to that State”).

[55] See e.g., Declaration of the Holy See to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, supra note 5.

[56] See e.g., CRC/C/VAT/CO/2, supra note 1, at paras. 29; 43; 60; 60.c; See also e.g. CRC/C/OPSC/VAT/CO/1,supra note 1, at paras. 9, 29.b.

[57] See e.g., CRC/C/VAT/2 supra note 6, at paras. 96-99; CRC/C/OPSC/VAT/1 supra note 6, at paras. 26-31; CRC/C/VAT/Q/2 Add.1, supra note 7, at paras. 43-51; CRC/C/OPSC/VAT/Q/1 Add.1, supra note 7, at paras. 10.4-10.4.b; CRC/C/SR.1852, supra 17, at paras. 36, 38, 40-43, 46; and Committee on the Rights of the Child, Sixty-fifth Session, Summary Records of the 1853rd meeting, CRC/C/SR.1853, at paras. 9,15, 29, 31, 33, 36, 38, 41, 46, 50, 51, 53, 55, 56, 65, 67.

[58] It is worth emphasizing, that the specific nature of the Holy See was known during the drafting phases of the Convention and its Optional Protocols, accepted by the States Parties to the Convention and recognized at the time of the ratification, including its reservations and interpretative declaration made in accordance with the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, supra note 2.


Cardinal Parolin Addresses UN Security Council on Terrorism
The Holy See "affirms that people of faith have a grave responsibility to condemn those who seek to detach faith from reason and instrumentalize faith as a justification for violence"

NEW YORK, September 25, 2014  - Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope's secretary of state, addressed the UN Security Council on Wednesday during the summit on foreign terrorist fighters in connection with the agenda item “Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.”

Here is the text of his address.

* * *

Mr. President,

My Delegation commends the United States of America for convening this timely Security Council open debate on “Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts”.

Mr. President,

Today’s debate comes at a time when we face the dehumanizing impact of terrorism fueled by violent extremism. The ongoing, and in some regions, escalating use of terror is a reminder that this challenge requires a shared commitment from all nations and people of good will. Indeed, terrorism represents a fundamental threat to our common humanity.

This institution was founded in the wake of an era in which a similar nihilistic view of human dignity sought to destroy and divide our world. Today, as then, nations must come together in order to fulfill our primary responsibility to protect people threatened by violence and direct assaults on their human dignity.

Pope Saint John Paul II reminded us in the wake of the tragic events of 11 September 2001 that the right to defend countries and peoples from acts of terrorism does not provide license to meet violence with violence, but rather “must be exercised with respect for moral and legal limits in the choice of ends and means. The guilty must be correctly identified, since criminal culpability is always personal and cannot be extended to the nation, ethnic group or religion to which the terrorists may belong.”

International cooperation must also address the root causes upon which international terrorism feeds. In fact, the present terroristic challenge has a strong socio-cultural component. Young people travelling abroad to join the ranks of terrorist organizations often come from poor immigrant families, disillusioned by what they feel as a situation of exclusion and by the lack of integration and values in certain societies. Together with the legal tools and resources to prevent citizens from becoming foreign terrorist fighters, Governments should engage with civil society to address the problems of communities most at risk of radicalization and recruitment and to achieve their satisfactory social integration.

Mr. President,

The Holy See – which is a sovereign international subject that also represents a world faith community – affirms that people of faith have a grave responsibility to condemn those who seek to detach faith from reason and instrumentalize faith as a justification for violence. As Pope Francis reiterated during his visit to Albania last Sunday, “Let no one consider themselves to be the “armour” of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression! May no one use religion as a pretext for actions against human dignity and against the fundamental rights of every man and woman, above all, the right to life and the right of everyone to religious freedom!”.

At the same time, it should be stressed that to counter the phenomenon of terrorism, achieving cultural understanding among peoples and countries and social justice for all is indispensable. For “whenever adherence to a specific religious tradition gives birth to service that shows conviction, generosity and concern for the whole of society without making distinctions, then there, too, exists an authentic and mature living out of religious freedom.”

Thank you, Mr. President.


Papal Message to UN: Keep Human Dignity Forefront in Deliberations
New Permanent Observer Speaks at Opening Prayer Service, Shares Pope's Greetings

NEW YORK, September 25, 2014  - Here is the address given Wednesday by the new Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, at the Prayer Service on the occasion of the Opening of the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

At the end of the address, the archbishop shares a message from the Pope, signed by his secretary of state.

* * *

Your Excellency Mr. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Mrs. Ban Soon-taek,

Your Excellencies the Presidents of the 68th and the 69th Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly,

Your Excellencies,

Friends and supporters of the United Nations:

It gives me great pleasure to begin my mission as Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations with this evening’s Prayer Service, to invoke the Almighty’s blessings upon all the Nations of the world, as the Sixty-Ninth Session of the United Nations General Assembly is about to begin.

On behalf of His Holiness Pope Francis, I am delighted to greet all of you. In particular, I extend a cordial welcome to His Excellency the Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon and Mrs. Ban Soon-taek, as well as to His Excellency the President of the just concluded Sixty-eighth UN General Assembly, Mr. John Ashe and Mrs. Ashe, and to His Excellency the President of the Sixty-ninth UN General Assembly, Mr. Sam Kutesa and Mrs. Kutesa. I am delighted as well to acknowledge the gracious presence of many Permanent Representatives and Mission Staff, as well as high-ranking officials of the UN System and Agencies. I express profound gratitude for your presence and your prayers for peace in the world.

Excellencies, dear friends, let us all work towards an ever-greater realization of the founding ideals of the United Nations, first among which is to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. Let us then heed the call for peace, by beating our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks, so that no nation may ever lift up a sword against another nation, and that we may never train for war any more (cfr. Is. 2:4), nor any group may ever use violence to impose its ideology upon others. Because war is madness, and senseless is violence. 

Alas, the current situation of violence and war in many parts of the world reminds us that lasting peace has remained elusive to many.  Right at this very moment, death, destruction and tragic loss of lives are happening in several areas of the world. It would seem that we have yet to learn the lesson from the madness of war and the senselessness of violence.

We cannot construct a world more genuinely human unless each one of us devotes himself or herself to the cause of peace with ever-renewed vigor, and make the pursuit of peace a constant rule of life. For, indeed, peace is never achieved once and for all; it is the fruit of our daily quest for greater justice and respect for one another. Let it, therefore, be our daily aim to be an instrument and a channel of peace.

Moreover, for believers, peace is not merely a result of our human efforts, but also a gift from the Almighty. That is why we come together this evening, to pray for peace and to commend the important work of the United Nations to God, as the Sixty-ninth Session of the General Assembly is about to open. We pray that all the stakeholders may reach agreements on difficult questions that affect us all, not only on issues of war and peace, but also on the respect of fundamental human rights and on improving the quality of life for all, which are key to consolidating peace and security throughout the world.

I would like to end by conveying to you the message that Pope Francis has for this evening’s Prayer Service, signed by the Secretary of State, Pietro Cardinal Parolin:


God bless the United Nations and all Nations of the world! 


Pope's Secretary of State Addresses UN Climate Change Summit
"The Holy See has often stressed that there is a moral imperative to act, for we all bear the responsibility to protect and to value creation for the good of this and future generations"

NEW YORK, September 24, 2014  - Below is the text of the address given Tuesday by the Pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, at the UN Climate Change Summit in New York.

Cardinal Parolin said that climate change raises not just scientific and economic considerations, but also ethical and moral ones, especially as the poor are the most affected by the phenomenon.

He said scientific consensus on climate change is "rather consistent" and that it is a "very serious problem."

Human activity seems to be the principal cause of climate change, he added, and "human inaction in the face of such a problem carries great risks and socio-economic costs."

* * *

Mr Secretary General,

I am pleased to convey the cordial greetings of His Holiness Pope Francis to all those here present for this important Summit, which has gathered together high governmental and civil officials, as well as leaders from the private sector and civil society, in order to identify significant initiatives that will address the concerning phenomenon of climate change. It is well known that climate change raises not only scientific, environmental and socio-economic considerations, but also and above all ethical and moral ones, because it affects everyone, in particular the poorest among us, those who are most exposed to its effects.

For this reason, the Holy See has often stressed that there is a moral imperative to act, for we all bear the responsibility to protect and to value creation for the good of this and future generations. Pope Francis, from the beginning of his Pontificate, has underlined the importance of “protecting our environment, which all too often, instead of using for the good, we exploit greedily, to one another’s detriment” (Address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 22 March 2013).

The scientific consensus is rather consistent and it is that, since the second half of the last century, warming of the climate system is unequivocal. It is a very serious problem which, as I said, has grave consequences for the most vulnerable sectors of society and, clearly, for future generations.

Numerous scientific studies, moreover, have emphasized that human inaction in the face of such a problem carries great risks and socio-economic costs. This is due to the fact that its principal cause seems to be the increase of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere due to human activity. Faced with these risks and costs, prudence must prevail, which requires thoughtful deliberations based on an accurate analysis of the impact our actions will have on the future. This requires a great political and economic commitment on the part of the international community, to which the Holy See wishes to make its own contribution, being aware that “the gift of knowledge helps us not to fall into attitudes of excess or error. The first lies in the risk of considering ourselves the masters of creation. Creation is not some possession that we can lord over for own pleasure; nor, even less, is it the property of only some people, the few: creation is a gift, it is the marvellous gift that God has given us, so that we will take care of it and harness it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude” (Pope Francis, General Audience, 21 May 2014).

Mr Secretary General,

The long debate on climate change, which gave rise in 1992 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its subsequent implementation, shows how complex this issue is. Since then until our own day, much has changed: the dynamics of international relations have given life to changing geopolitical contexts, while the scientific and informational technologies have become extremely refined.

A principle element which has emerged from the more than thirty years of study on the phenomenon of global warming is the increasing awareness that the entire international community is part of one interdependent human family. The decisions and behaviours of one of the members of this family have profound consequences for the others; there are no political frontiers, barriers or walls behind which we can hide to protect one member from another against the effects of global warming. There is no room for the globalization of indifference, the economy of exclusion or the throwaway culture so often denounced by Pope Francis (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 52, 53, 59).

In the actions undertaken to counter global warming we have too often seen the predominance of special interests or so-called “free-riders” over the common good; we have too often noted a certain suspicion or lack of trust on the part of States, as well as on the part of other participants. However, if we really wish to be effective, we must implement a collective response based on a culture of solidarity, encounter and dialogue, which should be at the basis of normal interactions within every family and which requires the full, responsible and dedicated collaboration of all, according to their possibilities and circumstances.

In this regard, it seems opportune to recall a concept which was also developed within the forum of the United Nations, that is, the responsibility to protect. States have a common responsibility to protect the world climate by means of mitigation and adaptation measure, as well as by sharing technologies and “know-how”. But above all they have a shared responsibility to protect our planet and the human family, ensuring present and future generations have the possibility of living in a safe and worthy environment. The technological and operational bases needed to facilitate this mutual responsibility are already available or within our reach. We have the capacity to start and strengthen a true and beneficial process which will irrigate, as it were, through adaptation and mitigation activities, the field of economic and technological innovation where it is possible to cultivate two interconnected objectives: combating poverty and easing the effects of climate change.

Market forces alone, especially when deprived of a suitable ethical direction, however, cannot resolve the interdependent crisis concerning global warming, poverty and exclusion. The greatest challenge lies in the sphere of human values and human dignity; questions which regard the human dignity of individuals and of peoples are not able to be reduced to mere technical problems. In this sense, climate change becomes a question of justice, respect and equity, a question which must awaken our consciences.

Mr Secretary General,

The ethical motivations behind every complex political decision must be clear. At present, this means consolidating a profound and far-sighted revision of models of development and lifestyles, in order to correct their numerous dysfunctions and deviations (cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 32). This is also needed due to the many crises which present society is living in economic, financial, social, cultural and ethical contexts.

Within this perspective, an authentic cultural shift is needed which reinforces our formative and educational efforts, above all in favour of the young, towards assuming a sense of responsibility for creation and integral human development of all people, present and future.

For its part, Vatican City State, though small, is undertaking significant efforts to reduce its consummation of fossil fuels, through diversification and energy efficiency projects. However, as the Holy See’s delegation at the COP-19 in Warsaw indicated, “talking about emission reductions is useless if we are not ready to change our lifestyle and the current dominant models of consumption and production”. The Holy See attaches great importance to the need to promote education in environmental responsibility, which also seeks to protect the moral conditions for an authentic human ecology. There are many Catholic educational institutions, as well as Bishops’ Conferences, dioceses, parishes and Catholic inspired NGOs committed to this work in the conviction that the deterioration of nature is directly linked to the culture which shapes human coexistence. Respect for environmental ecology is a condition of, and conditioned by, respect for human ecology in society.

Confronting seriously the problem of global warming requires not only strengthening, deepening and consolidating the political process on a global level, but also intensifying our commitment to a profound cultural renewal and a rediscovery of the fundamental values upon which a better future for the entire human family can be built. The Holy See commits itself to this end, so that, in this work, the international community may be guided by the ethical imperative to act, inspired by the principles of solidarity and the promotion of the common good, in the knowledge that “the dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies” (Evangelii Gaudium, 203).

Thank you.

Holy See Address to International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference
"Modern nuclear weapons ... are able to annihilate the whole human race either by direct impact or by the disastrous aftermath of such attacks. We therefore support the view that the mere existence of these weapons is absurd"

VIENNA, September 24, 2014  - Here is the text of the Sept. 22 intervention by Monsignor Antoine Camilleri at the 58th Annual Regular Session of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) General Conference, underway through Sept. 26 in Vienna, Austria. 

* * *

Mr. President,

I have the honour of conveying to you and to all the distinguished participants at this 58th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency the best wishes and cordial greetings of His Holiness Pope Francis. At the same time, it is my pleasure to congratulate you, Mr President, on behalf of the Delegation of the Holy See, on your election as President of this distinguished Conference. I would like to take this opportunity to also express our appreciation and gratitude to Director General Yukiya Amano and to the Secretariat for their dedicated work for the benefit of the whole IAEA family.

On this occasion, the Holy See, along with various states, welcomes and congratulates the Union of Comoros, the Republic of Djibouti, the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and the Republic of Vanuatu on becoming members of the IAEA family.

Mr President,

The Holy See commends and supports all the activities of the IAEA which contribute to authentic human development and foster peace and prosperity throughout the world. Nuclear technology can be applied to many areas of the development of the human person. The use of nuclear and radiation techniques by the IAEA, as shown in its projects of technical cooperation, is particularly praiseworthy. Such techniques are aimed at continually improving conditions of life for great numbers of people, especially in the developing countries, while also offering the education needed to form professionals. The contribution of the IAEA to human development is evidenced, among other things, in the areas of agriculture, food safety, quality of nutrition, the fight against devastating pests, the management of scarce water resources, the efforts to monitor environmental pollution and the research undertaken to minimize such pollution. Undoubtedly the greatest contribution of the IAEA to the development of the human person has been the successes witnessed in the field of health care, and the Agency continues to attach special importance to this assistance. For instance, the application of radiation techniques — from the use of X-rays to the utilization of technically highly advanced particle accelerators — has revolutionized the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases; the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) provides vital equipment for radiation therapy in a number of developing countries in the fight against cancer; and essential dosimetry services help improve the safe application of ionizing radiation and bring advanced training to medical doctors, physicists and dosimetrists. In recognizing all these significant achievements of the Agency, the Holy See believes that an improved public awareness and recognition of such contributions would come about through a greater use of the modern means of communication and a deeper cooperation with civic and political authorities.

Mr President,

We believe that the activities I have mentioned are compatible with Pope Francis’ call for fraternity which he articulated in his 2014 Message for the World Day of Peace. There he expounded upon this important means to achieve peace. He wrote:

"Fraternity is an essential human quality, for we are relational beings. A lively awareness of our relatedness helps us to look upon and to treat each person as a true sister or brother; without fraternity it is impossible to build a just society and a solid and lasting peace... In this sense, effective policies are needed to promote the principle of fraternity,securing for people - who are equal in dignity and in fundamental rights - access to capital, services, educational resources, healthcare and technology so that every person has the opportunity to express and realize his or her life project and can develop fully as a person" (1; 5).

Mr President,

Speaking of lasting peace as a common good that the entire human family can only benefit from, we wish to reiterate that the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons is paramount for all humankind. Yet the attaining of this objective cannot be the final word with regard to peace: special emphasis must be given to worldwide nuclear disarmament. This must be a goal for all states, especially for those who possess nuclear weapons or who want to develop or acquire them. Furthermore it is a goal which ought not to be considered unrealistic. The reality of peace unquestionably requires a change of course which can be accomplished by decision-making which is clear and firm, and by a willingness to seek and achieve nuclear disarmament. As in years past, the Holy See urges governments and scientific experts engaged in the field of military defence to work strenuously towards such disarmament. These concerted efforts, fostered by sincere negotiation and strengthened by a fulfilment of contractual obligations, must be founded on due respect for the fundamental rights of all persons and on mutual trust.

Earlier this year, referring to non-proliferation and disarmament, Pope Francis stated:

"As long as so great a quantity of arms are in circulation as at present, new pretexts can always be found for initiating hostilities. For this reason, I make my own the appeal of my predecessors for the non- proliferation of arms and for disarmament of all parties, beginning with nuclear and chemical weapons disarmament. We cannot however fail to observe that international agreements and national laws — while necessary and greatly to be desired — are not of themselves sufficient to protect humanity from the risk of armed conflict. A conversion of hearts is needed which would permit everyone to recognize in the other a brother or sister to care for, and to work together with, in building a fulfilling life for all" (2014 Message of His Holiness Francis for the Celebration for the World Day of Peace, 7).

Mr. President,

A world free of weapons of mass destruction is the final aim of this process of disarmament. The task is one which is all the more pressing for people who suffer the dire consequences of war and terrorism. It is also widely recognized that nowadays the risk of nuclear weapons being used is growing throughout the world due to three factors: the first, proliferation of such weapons; second, the vulnerability of nuclear command and control networks to cyber-attacks or human error; third, the possibility of nuclear weapons being accessed by non-state actors, terrorist groups in particular. My delegation considers it necessary for governments and politicians to do all that is within their power to establish a zone free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East Region.

Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation is a cause that must be taken up by all states, especially those in possession of nuclear weapons. From a humanitarian point of view, we are all acutely aware of just how catastrophic and irreversible the consequences of any use of these weapons would be. This year we commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the First World War and the seventy-fifth of the Second World War, both of which unleashed unprecedented levels of violence on a global scale, causing millions of deaths, inflicting untold injury and bringing vast destruction. The use of an atomic weapon brought awful consequences that are still being felt today. Modern nuclear weapons, significantly more powerful than those used in 1945, are able to annihilate the whole human race either by direct impact or by the disastrous aftermath of such attacks. We therefore support the view that the mere existence of these weapons is absurd and that arguments in support of their use are an affront against the dignity of all human life. Our conviction largely hinges on the vastness of damage and appalling consequences that could come from a nuclear explosion and a sobering assessment of the immense resources required to maintain and modernize nuclear arsenals. This is why the Holy See continues to support all efforts to ensure peace and bring about the conditions that foster it. Among such efforts, particular attention must be given to those initiatives which relate to the impact of nuclear weapons in the humanitarian sector. We applaud and commend Austria’s gesture of hosting the Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, due to take place later this year. It goes without saying, furthermore, that the coming into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, and the achievement of a comprehensive outcome in the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, represent vital steps towards the goal of nuclear disarmament. We deeply hope that, together, the international community will find the wisdom, courage and conviction to renew the process of disarmament.

Mr President,

Among the principal functions and tasks of the IAEA, those that must be emphasized are: the reinforcement of nuclear security; the verification of compliance by member states to Safeguard Agreements; the commitment touncover clandestine nuclear programs; the monitoring of nuclear material assigned for peaceful use; and the verification of the absence of clandestine activities which contradict peaceful objectives. By carrying out all these tasks, the Agency contributes to a deeper trust among states with regard to their nuclear programs.

Since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plants in March 2011, there has been great interest around the whole world in ensuring the enhancement and improvement of nuclear safety. This is the path that must be pursued: doing everything humanly possible to prevent accidents at nuclear facilities and minimizing any consequences should an accident occur.

The delegation of the Holy See also wishes to encourage and support the efforts and innovative approaches that concern the management and safe disposal of radioactive waste, especially the long-lived and high-level waste which poses a particular threat. Pioneering projects are an important contribution to the safety and security of the populations as well as to the protection of the environment, both now and for the future.

Finally, I wish to reiterate that the Holy See attaches great importance to the successful cooperation of the IAEA with other UN Organizations such as the WHO and the FAO. This year the Joint FAO/IAEA Division will celebrate its 50th anniversary. By combining the resources and strengths of both organizations, as evidenced by the effective application of nuclear technology and biotechnology to agricultural sectors, much progress has been made to offer the means of living to many people, especially in the poorest regions of the world. We are confident that this cooperation will be further developed and intensified for the benefit of many.

Thank you, Mr. President!

Holy See to UN: Take 'Concrete Steps' to Stop Persecution in Iraq
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi Also Calls on World Leaders to "Explicitly Condemn" Barbaric Acts

By Staff Reporter

GENEVA, September 01, 2014 - Addressing the 22nd Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council, Archbishop Tomasi, who is the Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, exhorted the international community to take concrete steps to stop the ongoing violence and persecution of minorities in northern Iraq, and to reestablish a just peace and to protect all vulnerable groups of society.

The papal diplomat, who addressed the council on Monday, said "adequate steps must be taken to achieve these goals"

Here below the full text of Archbishop Tomasi's address: 


Mr. President,

1.  In several regions of the world there are centers of violence – Northern Iraq in particular – that challenge the local and international communities to renew their efforts in the pursuit of peace. Even prior to considerations of international humanitarian law and the law of war, and no matter the circumstances, an indispensable requirement is respect for the inviolable dignity of the human person, which is the foundation of all human rights. The tragic failure to uphold such basic rights is evident in the self-proclaimed destructive entity, the so-called “Islamic State” group (ISIS). People are decapitated as they stand for their belief; women are violated without mercy and sold like slaves on the market; children are forced into combat; prisoners are slaughtered against all juridical provisions.

2.  The responsibility of international protection, especially when a government is not able to ensure the safety of the victims, surely applies in this case, and concrete steps need to be taken with urgency and resolve in order to stop the unjust aggressor, to reestablish a just peace and to protect all vulnerable groups of society. Adequate steps must be taken to achieve these goals. 

3.  All regional and international actors must explicitly condemn the brutal, barbaric and uncivilized behavior of the criminal groups fighting in Eastern Syria and Northern Iraq. 

4.  The responsibility to protect has to be assumed in good faith, within the framework of international law and humanitarian law. Civil society in general, and religious and ethnic communities in particular, should not become an instrument of regional and international geopolitical games. Nor should they be viewed as an “object of indifference” because of their religious identity or because other players consider them to be a “negligible quantity”. Protection, if not effective, is not protection.

5.  The appropriate United Nations agencies, in collaboration with local authorities, must provide adequate humanitarian aid, food, water, medicines, and shelter, to those who are fleeing violence. This aid, however, should be a temporary emergency assistance. The forcibly displaced Christians, Yazidis and other groups have the right to return to their homes, receive assistance for the rebuilding of their houses and places of worship, and live in safety.

6.  Blocking the flow of arms and the underground oil market, as well as any indirect political support, of the so-called “Islamic State” group, will help put an end to the violence.

7.  The perpetrators of these crimes against humanity must be pursued with determination. They must not be allowed to act with impunity, thereby risking the repetition of the atrocities that have been committed by the so-called “Islamic State” group.

Mr. President,

8.  As Pope Francis stressed in his letter to Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon: “the violent attacks…cannot but awaken the consciences of all men and women of goodwill to concrete acts of solidarity by protecting those affected or threatened by violence and assuring the necessary and urgent assistance for the many displaced people as well as their safe return to their cities and their homes.” What is happening today in Iraq has happened in the past and could happen tomorrow in other places. Experience teaches us that an insufficient response, or even worse, total inaction, often results in further escalation of violence. Failing to protect all Iraqi citizens, allowing them to be innocent victims of these criminals in an atmosphere of empty words, amounting to a global silence, will have tragic consequences for Iraq, for its neighboring countries and for the rest of the world. It will also be a serious blow to the credibility of those groups and individuals who strive to uphold human rights and humanitarian law. In particular, the leaders of the different religions bear a special responsibility to make it clear that no religion can justify these morally reprehensible and cruel and barbaric crimes, and to remind everyone that as one human family, we are our brothers’ keepers.


Holy See's UN Representative: International Community 'Compelled' to Act on Iraq
Archbishop Tomasi Warns of Similarities With Rwandan Genocide

GENEVA, August 14, 2014 - A senior Vatican diplomat has said Pope Francis’ appeal to the United Nations shows Pope Francis believes the international community is “compelled” to take action to stop the atrocities in Northern Iraq.

In an interview with Vatican Radio Aug. 13, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, said that what seems to be “particularly important” the Pope’s Aug. 9 letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “is the expressions that he uses: the tragic situation ‘compels’ the international community. 

“There is a moral imperative so to (speak), a necessity to act,” he said.

Islamic State militants in northern Iraq have purged entire towns and villages of people, threatening to kill all those who fail to embrace their brand of Sunni Islam.  Tens of thousands of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities have fled their homes. Many have been without food, water and shelter for days.

Archbishop Tomasi said the Pope’s letter represented the “sum total” of the different appeals coming to the international community. 

“The World Council of Churches has been writing to the Secretary General invoking some action on behalf of the people of the northern Iraq region – so has the Organization of the Islamic Conference and many other people beginning with the Patriarch of the Catholic Chaldean community, Patriarch Sako,” the archbishop said.

“All of these people take note and condemn in the strongest way the violation of the fundamental, basic human rights of the Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq.”

The papal diplomat noted that while Pope Francis does not specify exactly what action should be taken in Iraq, he does give some indication of his thoughts when he refers in his letter to the juridical norms governing the United Nations.

In the letter, Pope Francis encouraged all the competent organs of the United Nations, “in particular those responsible for security, peace, humanitarian law and assistance to refugees, to continue their efforts in accordance with the Preamble and relevant Articles of the United Nations Charter."

Archbishop Tomasi said in the various articles making up the Charter, it is foreseen “that there might be occasions in the life and in the relations between states when dialogue, negotiations, fail and large numbers of people find themselves at risk: at risk of genocide, at risk of having their fundamental, their basic human rights violated. 

“In this case, when every other means has been attempted, article 42 of the Charter of the United Nations becomes possible justification for not only imposing sanctions of economic nature on the state or the group or the region that violates the basic human rights of people, but also to use force,” he said. “All the force that is necessary to stop this evil and this tragedy.”

Archbishop Tomasi concluded by saying the situation in northern Iraq is similar to when Tutsi and Hutu in Rwanda were killing each other in the 1990s. “There were meetings, political declarations, but very little action,” he said. “And then, every year when we commemorate the almost one million people killed in that genocide, we make a kind of ‘mea culpa’  saying we have not done anything effective to prevent the killing of those innocent people. 

“God forbid that this may also be the same situation today in northern Iraq,” he said.


Message of Propaganda Fide to AMECEA Plenary Assembly
"The joy of the Gospel, as the Holy Father teaches, is for all people, no one is excluded."

ROME, July 25, 2014 - Here below we publish the message of the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples (Propaganda Fide) on the occasion of the 18th Plenary Assembly of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA). 


Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ,

On behalf of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, I greet all of you, members of Association of Member Episcopal Conference in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), with the peace and joy of Our Lord. The growth and achievements of the Church in your jurisdiction are largely due to the heroic and selfless dedication of the many generations of missionaries, who came there in obedience to the missionary mandate of Jesus “go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded” (Mt 28:19-20).

It is within this missionary spirit that I would like to invite you, members of this Conference, to reflect on the teachings of Pope Francis, in his Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”, the document which programmatically presents his Ecclesiastical vision, that of promoting a Church which goes forth, an eminently Missionary attitude. Also in our days, Jesus continues to command us to “go and make disciples”. Everyone is highly encouraged to take part in this new missionary “going forth”. The Holy Father insists that “each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the “peripheries” in need of the light of the Gospel” (EG 20).

The AMECEA, inspired by its vision, “Holy Spirit-filled family of God”, must continue to preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear. The joy of the Gospel, as the Holy Father teaches, is for all people, no one is excluded (EG 23).

I would like to call your attention to the forthcoming Synod in Rome in which the Holy Father has asked us, through prayers and reflection, to discover the fundamental Christian values of the Family. This Missionary Dicastery will continue to support you in your efforts to strengthen and enrich those to whom marriage and family life have been entrusted. The Second Vatican Council in its solicitude for the family reminds us: “The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children…” (Lumen Gentium, 11; cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem, 11).

Dear Brother Bishops, as the first agents of the New Evangelization in the midst of the challenges that now face us, allow me to take this opportunity as well to thank each of you for the pastoral, apostolic, and social activities that you have undertaken in order to build up the Church in this Region, making every Effort to assure that she is a real and effective instrument of salvation for the people who benefit from her services, and salt and light to the African continent.

Even as we talk of greater zeal for evangelization, we should not forget that there are countries in the Region that are still suffering from conflicts and wars which hinder missionary activities and the promotion of human development. My heart goes out to them with special sentiment and prayer, asking the Risen Lord that peace, justice, understanding and fraternal communion may reign. Continue to be instruments of peace in communion and mission.

Finally, I entrust the Catholic community under the care of AMECEA to the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Missions and Queen of Evangelization. I pray that she may obtain for you the power of the Holy Spirit to guide you in your missio ad gentes for the good of the Church.

Fernando Cardinal FILONI, the Prefect

Archbishop Savio HON TAI FAI, the Secretary


Holy See Addresses UN on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
"A culture of violence is being consolidated, the fruits of which are destruction and death"

GENEVA, July 23, 2014  - Here is today's statement by Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva. He addressed the 21st Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem.

* * * 

Mr. President,

As the number of people killed, wounded, uprooted from their homes, continues to increase in the conflict between Israel and some Palestinian groups, particularly in the Gaza Strip, the voice of reason seems submerged by the blast of arms. Violence will lead nowhere either now or in the future. The perpetration of injustices and the violation of human rights, especially the right to life and to live in peace and security, sow fresh seeds of hatred and resentment. A culture of violence is being consolidated, the fruits of which are destruction and death. In the long run, there can be no winners in the current tragedy, only more suffering.  Most of the victims are civilians, who by international humanitarian law, should be protected. The United Nations estimates that approximately seventy percent of Palestinians killed have been innocent civilians. This is just as intolerable as the rockets missiles directed indiscriminately toward civilian targets in Israel. Consciences are paralyzed by a climate of protracted violence, which seeks to impose solution through the annihilation of the other. Demonizing others, however, does not eliminate their rights. Instead, the way to the future, lies in recognizing our common humanity.

In his Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Pope Francis demanded that the present unacceptable situation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be brought to an end.[1] “For the good of all,” he said, “there is a need to intensify efforts and initiatives aimed at creating the conditions for a stable peace based on justice, on the recognition of the rights of every individual, and on mutual security. The time has come for everyone to find the courage to be generous and creative in the service of the common good, the courage to forge a peace which rests on the acknowledgment by all of the right of two States to exist and to live in peace and security within internationally recognized borders.”[2] The legitimate aspiration to security, on one side, and to decent living conditions, on the other, with access to the normal means of existence like medicines, water and jobs, for example, reflects a fundamental human right, without which peace is very difficult to preserve.

The worsening situation in Gaza is an incessant reminder of the necessity to arrive at a cease-fire immediately and to start negotiating a lasting peace. “Peace will bring countless benefits for the peoples of this region and for the world as a whole,” adds Pope Francis, “and so it must resolutely be pursued, even if each side has to make certain sacrifices.” It becomes a responsibility of the international community to engage in earnest in the pursuit of peace and to help the parties in this horrible conflict reach some understanding in order to stop the violence and look to the future with mutual trust.

Mr. President,

The Delegation of the Holy See reiterates its view that violence never pays. Violence will only lead to more suffering, devastation and death, and will prevent peace from becoming a reality. The strategy of violence can be contagious and become uncontrollable. To combat violence and its detrimental consequences we must avoid becoming accustomed to killing. At a time where brutality is common and human rights violations are ubiquitous, we must not become indifferent but respond positively in order to attenuate the conflict which concerns us all.

The media should report in a fair and unbiased manner the tragedy of all who are suffering because of the conflict, in order to facilitate the development of an impartial dialogue that acknowledges the rights of everyone, respects the just concerns of the international community, and benefits from the solidarity of the international community in supporting a serious effort to attain peace. With an eye to the future, the vicious circle of retribution and retaliation must cease. With violence, men and women will continue to live as enemies and adversaries, but with peace they can live as brothers and sisters.[3]

Thank you, Mr. President.


[1] Address of Pope Francis in Bethlehem, 25 May 2014.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Words of Pope Francis, Vatican Gardens,  8 June 2014.


Vatican's Sea Sunday Message
"I wish to invite every Christian to look around and realize how many of the objects we use in our daily lives have come to us through the hard and laborious work of seafarers"

ROME, July 13, 2014  - Here is the message for Sea Sunday from the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.

Sea Sunday is celebrated today.* * *

Throughout the history of mankind, the sea was the place where routes of explorers and adventurers intersected, and where battles determined the rise and fall of many nations. But it is, above all, a privileged place for exchange of goods and global trade. Actually, over 90% of merchandises worldwide are transported by nearly 100,000 ships, that unrelenting, are sailing from one end of the world to the other, run by a workforce of approximately 1.2 million seafarers of all races, nationalities and religions.

During this Sea Sunday, we are invited to become aware of the hardships and difficulties that seafarers face daily and of the valuable service provided by the Apostleship of the Sea in being Church who bears witness of the Lord’s mercy and tenderness in order to preach the Gospel in the ports of the whole world.

Due to a number of factors related to their profession, seafarers are invisible to us and to our society. As we celebrate Sea Sunday, I wish to invite every Christian to look around and realize how many of the objects we use in our daily lives have come to us through the hard and laborious work of seafarers.

If we observe their lives carefully, we immediately realize that they are certainly not as romantic and adventurous as sometimes is shown in films and novels.

The life of seafarers is difficult and dangerous. In addition to having to face the rage and power of nature, that often prevails even upon the most modern and technologically advanced ships (according to the International Maritime Organization [IMO] in 2012, more than 1,000 seafarers have died as a result of shipwrecks, maritime collisions, etc.), we should not forget the risk of piracy, which is never defeated it but is transformed in new and different ways and is manifested in many maritime routes, and also the danger of criminalization and abandonment without wages, food and protection in foreign ports.

The sea, the ship and the port are the universe of life of seafarers. A ship is economically viable only when sailing and, therefore, must continually sail from one port to another. The mechanizationof cargo-handling operations has reduced the time of berthing and the free time of crew members, while security measures have restricted the opportunities to go ashore.

Seafarers do not choose their companions of journey. Each crew is a microcosm of people from different nationalities, cultures and religions, forced to live together in the limited area of a ship for the duration of the contract, without any interest in common, communicating with an idiom that often is not theirs.

For seafarers loneliness and isolation are traveling companions. By its nature, the work of seafarers bring them to be away, even for long periods, from their family environment. For the crews is not always easy to have access to the numerous technologies (telephone, wi-fi, etc.) for contacting family and friends. In most cases, children are born and grow up without their presence, thus increasing the sense of loneliness and isolation that accompanies their life.

The Church, in her maternal concern, for over ninety years has been providing her pastoral care to the people of the sea throughout the Work of the Apostleship of the Sea.

Every year thousands of seafarers are welcomed in ports, at the Stella Maris Centers, distinctive places where seafarers are warmly received, can relax away from the ship and contact family members using different means of communication made available to them.

The volunteers daily visit seafarers on ships, in hospitals and those who are abandoned in foreign ports, ensuring a word of consolation but also concrete support when needed.

The chaplains are always available to offer spiritual assistance (celebration of the Eucharist, ecumenical prayers, etc.) to seafarers of all nationalities who are in need, especially in times of difficulty and crisis.

Finally, the Apostleship of the Sea gives voice to those who often have no voice, denouncing abuses and injustices, defending the rights of the people of the sea and asking to the maritime industry and to the individual governments to respect international Conventions.

While, during this Sea Sunday, we express our gratitude to all those who work in the maritime industry, with a trusting heart we ask Mary, Star of the Sea to guide, enlighten and protect the sailing of the whole people of the sea and support the members of the Apostleship of the Sea in their pastoral ministry.

Antonio Maria Cardinal Vegliò


Joseph Kalathiparambil



Vatican's Message for World Day of Tourism 2014
"It is necessary to promote a tourism that develops in harmony with the community that welcomes people into its space, with its traditional and cultural forms, with its heritage and lifestyles."

VATICAN CITY, July 11, 2014  - Here below we publish the Message for World Tourism Day 2014, issued today by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People:


Message for World Tourism Day 2014 (September 27)

“Tourism and Community Development”

1. Like every year, World Tourism Day is celebrated on September 27. An event promoted annually by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the theme for this year’s commemoration is “Tourism and Community Development”. Keenly aware of the social and economic importance of tourism today, the Holy See wishes to accompany this phenomenon from its own realm, particularly in the context of evangelization.

In its Global Code of Ethics, the UNWTO says that tourism must be a beneficial activity for destination communities: “Local populations should be associated with tourism activities and share equitably in the economic, social and cultural benefits they generate, and particularly in the creation of direct and indirect jobs resulting from them.”[1] That is, it calls on both realities to establish a reciprocal relationship, which leads to mutual enrichment.

The notion of “community development” is closely linked to a broader concept that is part of the Church’s Social Teaching, which is “integral human development”. It is through this latter term that we understand and interpret the former. In this regard, the words of Pope Paul VI are quite illuminating. In his Encyclical Populorum Progressio, he stated that “the development we speak of here cannot be restricted to economic growth alone. To be authentic, it must be well rounded; it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man.”[2]

How tourism can contribute to this development? To this end, integral human development and, thus, community development in the field of tourism should be directed towards achieving a balanced progress that is sustainable and respectful in three areas: economic, social and environmental. By “environmental”, we mean both the ecological and cultural context.

2. Tourism is a key driver of economic development, given its major contribution to GDP (between 3% and 5% worldwide), employment (between 7% and 8% of the jobs) and exports (30% of global exports of services).[3]

At present, the world is experiencing a diversification in the number of destinations, as anywhere in the world has the potential to become a tourist destination. Therefore, tourism is one of the most viable and sustainable options to reduce poverty in the most deprived areas. If properly developed, it can be a valuable instrument for progress, job creation, infrastructure development and economic growth.

As highlighted by Pope Francis, we are conscious that “human dignity is linked to work,” and as such we are asked to address the problem of unemployment with “the tools of creativity and solidarity.”[4] In that vein, tourism appears to be one of the sectors with the most capacity to generate a wide range of “creative” jobs with greater ease. These jobs could benefit the most disadvantaged groups, including women, youth or certain ethnic minorities.

It is imperative that the economic benefits of tourism reach all sectors of local society, and have a direct impact on families, while at the same time take full advantage of local human resources. It is also essential that these benefits follow ethical criteria that are, above all, respectful to people both at a community level and to each person, and avoid “a purely economic conception of society that seeks selfish benefit, regardless of the parameters of social justice.”[5] No one can build his prosperity at the expense of others.[6]

The benefits of a tourism promoting “community development” cannot be reduced to economics alone: there are other dimensions of equal or greater importance. Among these include: cultural enrichment, opportunities for human encounter, the creation of “relational goods”, the promotion of mutual respect and tolerance, the collaboration between public and private entities, the strengthening of the social fibre and civil society, the improvement of the community’s social conditions, the stimulus to sustainable economic and social development, and the promotion of career training for young people, to name but a few.

3. The local community must be the main actor in tourism development. They must make it their own, with the active presence of government, social partners and civic bodies. It is important that appropriate coordination and participation structures are created, which promote dialogue, make agreements, complement efforts and establish common goals and identify solutions based on consensus. Tourism development is not to do something “for” the community, but rather, “with” the community.

Furthermore, a tourist destination is not only a beautiful landscape or a comfortable infrastructure, but it is, above all, a local community with their own physical environment and culture. It is necessary to promote a tourism that develops in harmony with the community that welcomes people into its space, with its traditional and cultural forms, with its heritage and lifestyles. And in this respectful encounter, the local population and visitors can establish a productive dialogue which will promote tolerance, respect and mutual understanding.

The local community should feel called upon to safeguard its natural and cultural heritage, embracing it, taking pride in it, respecting and adding value to it, so that they can share this heritage with tourists and transmit it to future generations.

Also, the Christians of that community must be capable of displaying their art, traditions, history, and moral and spiritual values, but, above all, the faith that lies at the root of all these things and gives them meaning.

4. The Church, expert in humanity, wishes to collaborate on this path towards an integral human and community development, to offer its Christian vision of development, offering “her distinctive contribution: a global perspective on man and human realities.”[7]

From our faith, we can provide the sense of the person, community and fraternity, solidarity, seeking justice, of being called upon as stewards (not owners) of Creation and, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, continue to collaborate in Christ’s work.

Following what Pope Benedict XVI asked of those committed to the pastoral care of tourism, we must increase our efforts in order to “shed light on this reality using the social teaching of the Church and promote a culture of ethical and responsible tourism, in such a way that it will respect the dignity of persons and of peoples, be open to all, be just, sustainable and ecological.”[8]

With great pleasure, we note how the Church has recognized the potential of the tourism industry in many parts of the world and set up simple but effective projects.

There are a growing number of Christian associations that organize responsible tourism to less developed destinations as well as those that promote the so-called “solidarity or volunteer tourism” which enable people to put their vacation time to good use on a project in developing countries.

Also worth mentioning are programs for sustainable and equitable tourism in disadvantaged areas promoted by Episcopal Conferences, dioceses or religious congregations, which accompany local communities, helping them to create opportunities for reflection, promoting education and training, giving advice and collaborating on project design and encouraging dialogue with the authorities and other groups. This type of experience has led to the creation of a tourism managed by local communities, through partnerships and specialized micro tourism (accommodation, restaurants, guides, craft production, etc.).

Beyond this, there are many parishes in tourist destinations that host visitors, offering liturgical, educational and cultural events, with the hope that the holidays “are of benefit to their human and spiritual growth, in the firm conviction that even in this time we cannot forget God who never forgets us.”[9] To do this, parishes seek to develop a “friendly pastoral care” which allows them to welcome people with a spirit of openness and fraternity, and project the image of a lively and welcoming community. And for this hospitality to be more effective, we need to create a more effective collaboration with other relevant sectors.

These pastoral proposals are becoming more important, especially as a type of “experiential tourism” grows. This type of tourism seeks to establish links with local people and enable visitors to feel like another member of the community, participating in their daily lives, placing value on contact and dialogue.

The Church’s involvement in the field of tourism has resulted in numerous projects, emerging from a multitude of experiences thanks to the effort, enthusiasm and creativity of so many priests, religious and lay people who work for the socio-economic, cultural and spiritual development of the local community, and help them to look with hope to the future.

In recognition that its primary mission is evangelization, the Church offers its often humble collaboration to respond to the specific circumstances of people, especially the most needy. And this, from the conviction that “we also evangelize when we attempt to confront the various challenges which can arise.”[10]

Vatican City, July 1, 2014

Antonio Maria Cardinal Vegliò


X Joseph Kalathiparambil


[1] World Tourism Organization, Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, 1 October 1999, Art.5, para.1

[2] Pope Paul VI, Encyclical “ Populorum Progressio”, 26 March 1967, n.14

[3] Cf. World Tourism Organisation & World Council on Travel & Tourism, Open Letter to Heads of State and Government on Travel and Tourism

[4] Pope Francis, Address to Managers and Workers at the Steel Mills of Terni and the Faithful of the Diocese of Terni-Narni-Amelia, 20 March 2014

[5] Pope Francis, Papal Audience, 1 May 2013

[6] “Rich countries have shown the ability to create material well-being, but often at the expense of man and the weaker social classes.” (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 2 April 2004, n.374)

[7] Pope Paul VI, Encyclical “ Populorum Progressio”, 26 March 1967, n.13

[8] Pope Benedict XVI, Message for the VII World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism, Cancún (Mexico), 23-27 April 2012.

[9] VII World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism, Final Declaration, Cancún (Mexico), 23-27 April 2012.

[10] Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”, 24 November 2013, n.61


Holy See Reminds UN That Family Is Good for Individuals
The family "continually exhibits a vigour much greater than that of the many forces that have tried to eliminate it as a relic of the past, or an obstacle to the emancipation of the individual, or to the creation of a freer, egalitarian and happy society"

GENEVA, June 25, 2014  - Here is the address given by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, at the 26th Session of the Human Rights Council on Item No. 8- General Debate in Geneva on Tuesday, 24 June 2014.

* * *

Mr. President,
My Delegation supports the importance given by the United Nations to the twentieth anniversary observance of the International Year of the Family. This significant event was recently highlighted in a special way, on 15 May 2014, during the International Day of Families, under the theme: “Families Matter for the Achievement of Development Goals”.  Surely, the choice of this theme had a strong relationship to Resolution 2012/10, adopted by ECOSOC that stressed the need “for undertaking concerted actions to strengthen family-centred policies and programs as part of an integrated, comprehensive approach to development”; and that invited States, civil society organizations and academic institutions “to continue providing information on their activities in support of the objectives of and preparations for the twentieth anniversary.”

This Council is well aware, Mr. President, of the strong debates held in this very chamber about the nature and definition of the family. Such discussions often lead States to conclude that the family is more of a problem than a resource to society. Even the United Nations materials prepared for the observance of this Anniversary Year stated: “Owing to rapid socio-economic and demographic transformations, families find it more and more difficult to fulfil their numerous responsibilities.”(1) My Delegation believes that despite past or even current challenges, the family, in fact, is the fundamental unit of human society. It continually exhibits a vigour much greater than that of the many forces that have tried to eliminate it as a relic of the past, or an obstacle to the emancipation of the individual, or to the creation of a freer, egalitarian and happy society.

The family and society, which are mutually linked by vital and organic bonds, have complementary functions in the defence and advancement of the good of every person and of humanity.(2) The dignity and rights of the individual are not diminished by the attention given to the family. On the contrary, most people find unique protection, nurture, and dynamic energy from their membership in a strong and healthy family founded upon marriage between a man and a woman. Moreover, ample evidence has demonstrated that the best interest of the child is assured in a harmonious family environment in which the education and formation of children develop within the context of lived experience with both male and female parental role models.

The family is the fundamental cell of society where the generations meet, love, educate, and support each other, and pass on the gift of life, “where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another.”(3) This understanding of the family has been embraced throughout history by all cultures. Thus, with good reason the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognized unique, profound, and uncompromising rights and duties for the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, by declaring as follows: “(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.

They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses. (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”

Mr. President, during this historic anniversary observance, the Holy See Delegation firmly maintains that the family is a whole and integral unit, which should not be divided or marginalized. The family and marriage need to be defended and promoted not only by the State but also by the whole of society. Both require the decisive commitment of every person because it is starting from the family and marriage that a complete answer can be given to the challenges of the present and the risks of the future.(4) The way forward is indicated in the fundamental human rights and related conventions that ensure the universality of these rights and whose binding value need to be preserved and promoted by the International Community.


2. Pontifical Council for the Family, “Charter on the Rights of the Family,” 1983,file:///Users/BobNewMBP/Documents/Pontifical%20Council%20for%20the%20Family/Charter%20of%20the%20Rights%20of%20the%20Family,%2022%20October%201983%C2%A0.webarchive

3. Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 24 Novemer 2013, #66,

4.Pontifical Council for the Family, “The Family and Human Rights,” 2000 

Holy See to UN: No Need to Reinvent the Wheel; Family Is Solution to Poverty
"It is within the family that the next generation of humanity is welcomed, fed, clothed, and provided for"

NEW YORK, April 02, 2014 ( - Here is the intervention of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations given Monday at the 10th Session of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals. It is on Cluster 1 “Poverty Eradication and Promoting Equality.”

* * *

Mr. Co-Chair,

  The importance that all States place on poverty eradication is abundantly manifest from the opening lines of The Future We Want, which unequivocally considers poverty eradication to constitute “the greatest global challenge facing the world today” and “an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.”[1]

The Holy See, which actively participated in this negotiated outcome, stands resolutely with all of you in this conviction. Pope Francis wrote recently that “[t]he need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good order of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises.[2]

Fortunately, in this regard we do not need to reinvent the wheel. Through trial-and-error, society itself has developed what the Secretary-General calls its own “basic building block”:[3] the family. It is within the family that the next generation of humanity is welcomed, fed, clothed, and provided for. Setting a development agenda for the next 15 years is a powerful gesture of intergenerational solidarity. The future we want becomes, then, the future we want for our children and our children’s children. In the very paragraph where Rio + 20 decided to launch this intergovernmental process, it is extremely instructive to note how it immediately stressed that “we will also consider the need for promoting intergenerational solidarity for the achievement of sustainable development, taking into account the needs of future generations, including by inviting the Secretary General to present a report on this issue.”[4]

The Secretary-General has not been remiss in this regard. In numerous reports,[5] he highlights the centrality of the family for poverty eradication and sustainable development. “The family,” he rightly observes, “remains the basic societal unit of reproduction, consumption, asset-building and – in many parts of the world – production.”[6] My delegation recognizes that it can be irksome for some, as Pope Francis has also acknowledged, “when the question of ethics is raised, when global solidarity is invoked… [and even, at times, that] these issues are exploited by a rhetoric which cheapens them.” Nevertheless, obstinacy in recognizing the obvious role of the family in eradicating poverty and addressing its causes with family-sensitive policies that bolster the stability of this most fundamental of societal institutions is highly irresponsible and ultimately counter-productive on the part of governments.

Recognizing, as does Rio + 20, that “people are at the centre of sustainable development”[7] one does not need to look far for those who are the most urgently affected by the scourge of poverty and hunger, namely: women, children and the youth. To these, the Secretary-General recommends adding, as a post-2015 development priority, the family. This is a recommendation my delegation can wholeheartedly support. With him, we call upon States to recognize that adding the family as a cross-cutting priority to the post-2015 development agenda could constitute “a progressive step”,[8]since this is currently insufficiently addressed in this process.

Pope Benedict XVI considered charity to be “the principle not only of micro-relationships (with friends, with family members or within small groups) but also of macro-relationships (social, economic and political ones)”.[9] To this, his successor, Pope Francis, adds: “I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor! It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons.”[10]

Thank you, Mr. Co-Chair.

[1] Rio +20, The Future We Want, 2.

[2] Evangelii gaudium, 202.

[3] A/67/61 at para. 4.

[4] Rio +20, The Future We Want, 86.

[5] A/69/61, A/68/61, A/67/61.

[6] A/68/61at para. 5.

[7] Rio +20, The Future We Want, 6.

[8] A/69/61 at para 67.

[9] Caritas in veritate, 2.

[10] Evangelii gaudium, 205.



Holy See's UN Rep Addresses House Committee
Says Religious Freedom Is 1st Freedom for Democratic Societies

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 13, 2014  - Here is the text of testimony given this week by Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations, before the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations.

* * *

Mr. Chairman,

Thank you for this opportunity to address you and the Committee today. Your recognition of the consequential need to consider and respond effectively to existing and emerging threats to religious freedom in the world today is commendable. Such threats manifest not solely under authoritarian regimes or in traditional societies but even, I regret to say, in the great democracies of the world.

The Constitution of the United States apprehends well what the Holy See consistently affirms, namely: that religious freedom is also the “first freedom”, a fundamental human right from which other rights necessarily flow, and which must always be protected, defended, and promoted. Pope Benedict XVI identified religious freedom as: the pinnacle of all other freedoms. It is a sacred and inalienable right. It includes on the individual and collective levels the freedom to follow one’s conscience in religious matters and, at the same time, freedom of worship. It includes the freedom to choose the religion which one judges to be true and to manifest one’s beliefs in public. It must be possible to profess and freely manifest one’s religion and its symbols without endangering one’s life and personal freedom. Religious freedom is rooted in the dignity of the person; it safeguards moral freedom and fosters mutual respect.[1]

Every government bears the profound responsibility to guarantee in its Constitution, as your First Amendment and the entire text secure, religious freedom for its people and must moreover uphold religious liberty both in principle and in fact.

Today, however, religious persecution, be it overt or discrete, is emerging with an increased frequency worldwide. Even in some of the western democracies, the longstanding paragons of human rights and freedoms, we find instances of increasingly less subtle signs of persecution, including the legal prohibition of the display of Christian symbols and imagery – legitimate expressions of belief that for centuries has enriched culture – be they on the person or on public property. This suggests a profound identity crisis at the heart of these great democracies, which owe to their encounter with Christianity both their origin and culture, including their human rights culture.

I, personally, have witnessed many egregious threats to religious liberty during my service around the globe. My current posting also makes me familiar with the work of the United Nations, which your great nation helped establish when the world society was desperate for an institution whose mission would be to secure and maintain international peace and security. The founding Charter of the United Nations mandates that it fulfill this mission through safeguarding the fundamental and inalienable rights and responsibilities of each member of the human family. The preservation of authentic religious freedom thus stands at the heart of the UN’s solemn responsibility. 

Having said this, allow me to address the following two points in my brief remarks. I will also be submitting to the committee two more detailed texts for your further consideration.

The first issue on which I wish to focus today concerns challenges to religious freedom in the Middle East, particularly for Christians, who since the beginning of Christianity two thousand years ago have been continuous inhabitants of that important region of the world. A second issue I will touch upon briefly concerns the responsibility of the United Nations towards safeguarding this religious freedom. I also wish to highlight the crucial role the United States of America bears in the work of the UN by virtue of its significant influence within this organization, as well as its permanent membership in the Security Council.

Regarding my first point: flagrant and widespread persecution of Christians rages in the Middle East even as we meet. No Christian is exempt, whether or not he or she is Arab. Arab Christians, a small but significant community, find themselves the target of constant harassment for no reason other than their religious faith. This tragedy is all the more egregious when one pauses to consider that these men and women of faith are loyal sons and daughters of the countries in which they are full citizens and in which they have been living at peace with their neighbors and fellow citizens for untold generations.

One of the most graphic illustrations of ongoing brutality confronting Arab Christians is the emergence of a so-called “tradition” of bombings of Catholic and other Christian houses of worship every Christmas Eve, which has been going on now for the past several years. Will there be no end in sight for this senseless slaughter for those whom that very night proclaim the Prince of Peace in some of the oldest Christian communities in the world?

As is increasingly obvious, governments are by no means guaranteeing religious freedom consistently among fundamental human rights and, at worst, violations take the form of the outright persecution of religious believers by state actors. For its part, the Holy See regularly urges the world’s attention to serious violations of the right to religious freedom, in general, as well as to recent and continuing instances of discrimination or systematic attacks on Christian communities, in particular. In a recent statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva said that (r)esearch has indicated that more than 100,000 Christians are violently killed because of some relation to their faith every year, while other Christians and believers are subjected to forced displacement, to the destruction of their places of worship, to rape, and to the abduction of their leaders. Several of these acts have been perpetrated in parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, and are the result of bigotry, intolerance, terrorism and some exclusionary laws. In addition, some Western countries, where historically the Christian presence has been an integral part of society, a trend emerges that tends to marginalize Christianity in public life, ignore historic and social contributions and even restrict the ability of faith communities to carry out social charitable services.[2]

Pope Francis himself, in praying recently for all Christians who experience discrimination on the basis of their belief stated, Let us remain close to these brothers and sisters who, like (the first martyr of the Church) St Stephen, are unjustly accused and made the objects of various kinds of violence. Unfortunately, I am sure they are more numerous today than in the early days of the Church. There are so many! This occurs especially where religious freedom is still not guaranteed or fully realized. However, it also happens in countries and areas where on paper freedom and human rights are protected, but where in fact believers, and especially Christians, face restrictions and discrimination.[3]

His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, similarly pointed out the same problem in his 2012 address to the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. He stressed how: (i)n many countries Christians are deprived of fundamental rights and sidelined from public life; in other countries they endure violent attacks against their churches and their homes. At times they are forced to leave the countries they have helped to build because of persistent tensions and policies which frequently relegate them to being second-class spectators of national life. In other parts of the world, we see policies aimed at marginalizing the role of religion in the life of society.[4] It even happens that believers, and Christians in particular, are prevented from contributing to the common good by their educational and charitable institutions."[5]

This past autumn, in a Message to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, Pope Francis called to mind the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, which brought about the end to the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire, and drew attention to “…the many Christians of all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities who in many parts of the world experience discrimination and at times pay with their own blood the price of their profession of faith.” The Pope also stressed the “…urgent need for effective and committed cooperation among Christians in order to safeguard everywhere the right to express publicly one’s faith and to be treated fairly when promoting the contribution which Christianity continues to offer to contemporary society and culture.”[6]

Current circumstances make it particularly important that Christians work together to ensure religious freedom for all, and to this end it is crucial that every government guarantee religious freedom for each and every person in its country not only in its legislation but also in praxis. Strictly connected to freedom of religion is respect for conscientious objection, of which everyone should be able to avail himself or herself. Conscientious objection is based on religious, ethical and moral reasons, and on the universal demands of human dignity. As such it is a pillar of every truly democratic society and, precisely for this reason, civil law must always and everywhere recognize and protect it. After all, these steps ensure not only human dignity but the dignity of democratic institutions.

Regarding my second point, which concerns the United Nations: the essential importance of religious freedom for each and every person, community and society, is confirmed by the foundational international legal instruments and other documents. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “(e)veryone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”[7]

Since the summer of 2010, as the Holy See’s Representative to the UN, I have labored alongside many people of good will to bring an end to the suffering in the world. The religious persecution of Christians throughout the Middle East looms large in this theatre of suffering. The UN General Assembly addresses the question in certain resolutions, which we have a hand in negotiating.

However, these noble efforts fail to receive the profile they justly deserve on the world stage. Only Member States, especially those with leadership profiles like the United States, can take decisive steps to ensure that the non-derogable human right of religious liberty becomes more robustly protected worldwide. The self-evident truths underlying healthy democracy – truths upon which both President Jefferson and the Church agree –require as much. The religious freedom which the law is expected to protect and promote abides no mere passive toleration but requires, rather, that States guarantee the basic preconditions that permit its free exercise by citizens in both their private and public endeavours.

Allow me now to express my gratitude for efforts this committee undertakes in promoting religious liberty and those it will undertake in this issue to bring an end to further suffering and social exclusion of Christians.

As I mentioned, I also leave for your further consideration two documents of crucial concern to my testimony, namely: (1) The Lineamenta (or Guidelines) for the 2009 Synod of Bishops Special Assembly for the Middle East,8 and (2) Pope Benedict XVI’s 2011 World Day of Peace Message entitled “Religious Freedom, the Path to Peace.”[9]

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I express my gratitude to you and to the Committee for this important opportunity to express solidarity with all Christian believers in the harsh reality of the persecution of their communities and adherents at this present time. We look to your country to stand true to its own Constitution and show its leadership in every forum in working to end the erosion of this most fundamental of human rights.

Thank you for your attention.


1 Pope Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 26 (2012).

2 Cf., e.g., Statement of the Holy See at the 23rd Session of the Human Rights Council on Violence against Christians

(May 27, 2013).

3 Pope Francis, Angelus Address (Dec. 26, 2013).

4 Address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the members of the Diplomatic Corps (Jan. 9, 2012).

5 Address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the members of the Diplomatic Corps (Jan. 7, 2013).

6 Pope Francis, Message of Pope Francis to His Holiness Bartolomaios I, Ecumenical Patriarch, for the Feast of Saint Andrew (Nov. 25, 2013).

7 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18 (1948).






Holy See at UN on Promoting Equality, Including Social Equity, Gender Equality, and Women's Empowerment

NEW YORK, February 07, 2014  - Here is the Feb. 6 intervention of ArchbishopFrancis A. Chullikatt, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, at the UN's Eighth Session of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals on “Promoting Equality, including Social Equity, Gender Equality, and Women’s Empowerment.”

* * *

Mr. Co-Chair,             

Sustainable development – based always on its three essential pillars – cannot be divorced from the need to ensure that development benefits are enjoyed equally by all members of the human family.  A priority of the first order, accordingly, should be that no human being should be left behind by the global development process. 

At this juncture in human history, statistics reveal inequalities between and among peoples to be higher than ever. Figures on economic inequalities emerging from the 2014 World Economic Forum highlight the realities of poverty, deprivation, marginalization, and suffering to constitute a great scandal. Inattention to inequalities, even within the Millennium Development Goals, has entrenched disadvantage and constitutes a call to rectify this formulation of the post-2015 development framework.

In such a vicious cycle, inequalities manifest both as causes and effects of the fractionalization of societies. As the Global Thematic Consultation on the Post-2015 Development Agenda Synthesis Report notes, while structural factors generating inequalities are wide-ranging – including elements economic, social, political, cultural, and environmentally based,[1] their impact is universal. Inequalities exclude human beings from full participation in the life of their community, denying them the full enjoyment of their human rights as well as the basic economic opportunities which their inherent human dignity demands.

Global inequality is no mere sterile economic or juridical concern but is a fully human crisis threatening society’s common good as a whole. Pope Francis has identified inequality as the root of social ills, one which provides a fertile ground for violence, crime, and conflict.[2]  The ultimate product of inequality is not merely poverty and unemployment, crime, social disorder, and despair, but a progressive destruction of the very fabric of society itself, threatening wellbeing of all.

Mr. Co-Chair,

In order to be truly inclusive and equitable, the Post-2015 development framework does well to avoid a siloed approach when addressing the root causes of inequality, poverty and exclusion. A universal approach omits no one, and a development agenda based firmly on the three SDG pillars, should embrace its core purposes: achieving development for the good of all people, both between and within nations, embodying the promise that all are entitled without distinction to partake in development’s fruits. Partnerships must be forged between local and regional governments and civil society, including religious organizations, to reach those at the utmost fringes of society.

 Mr. Co-Chair,

Women and girls stand prominently among those whose human dignity has been affronted. This is especially apparent at times when they are most vulnerable: when they are targeted for sex-selective abortion; or subject to infanticide and abandonment, unschooled, subjected to female genital mutilation, forced marriage, and trafficking. The horror of domestic violence, rape, forced sterilization and abortions threatens women’s health and lives. Old age finds them alone and poor, without social or economic security. These wide-spanning issues of inequality require an approach which incorporates and safeguards women’s equality across the development framework.

Yet it would be naïve to conflate equality with sameness.  The approach to women in the Sustainable Development Goals must acknowledge and enable women to overcome barriers to equality without forcing them to abandon what is essential to them. Women worldwide do not live in isolation, but exist within the context of relationships which provide meaning, richness, identity, and human love. Their relationships, especially their role within the family – as mothers, wives, caregivers – have profound effects on the choices women make and their own prioritization of the rights which they exercise across their lifespans. 

In formulating the Sustainable Development Goals, the global community must sidestep a simplistic assertion that shortfalls in women’s economic and public achievements can be remedied only by the negation of their procreative capacities. A truly rights-based approach to women’s equality demands that societies and their institutions remove unjust social and economic barriers that interject a false dichotomy between the relationships that enhance their lives and their participation and gains across other human rights.  Development for women will be truly sustainable only when it respects and enables women to choose and prioritize their actions according to equal opportunities within the context of real family relationships that frame their lives, not in spite of them. 

Sustainable Development Goals should provide the opportunity to confront inequality through the promotion of women’s engagement on an equal basis in society without disregarding entirely the family relationships in which women exist. Labor policies should go beyond facilitating equal job access and ensure reconciliation of paid work with family responsibilities: through family and maternity policies, and ensuring that equal salaries, unemployment benefits, and pensions are sufficient for a sustainable family life. Access to equal education and vocational training must accompany measures to accommodate family work and care needs. Serious efforts are needed to support women in their family choices. Civic participation should be designed to accommodate the participation of all women, including those with family responsibilities.

Mr. Co-Chair,

Measures to eliminate inequalities within the Sustainable Development framework must ensure that every member of the human family partakes in the benefits of international development. Through a truly inclusive development agenda that places the last among us first, the community of nations can ensure that a person’s status at birth (indeed, before birth) shall no longer be permitted to determine the extent to which they can realize the equal and inalienable rights which derive from their inherent human dignity.

Thank you, Mr. Co-Chair.

[1] UNICEF and UN Women, 2013. Addressing Inequalities: Synthesis Report of Global Public Consultation

[2] Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, Evangelii gaudium, n. 202.


Fr. Federico Lombardi's Note on the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child's Recommendations
"The Holy See will not allow its careful and reasoned responses to be lacking"

VATICAN CITY, February 07, 2014  - Here is the translation of the Vatican Spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi's note on the recommendations by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. 

* * *

After the large number of articles and comments that followed the publication of the recommendations of the audit Committee of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it seems useful to make a few comments and clarifications.

It is not appropriate to speak of confrontation “between the UN and the Vatican”. The United Nations is a reality that is very important to humanity today.

The Holy See has always provided strong moral support to the United Nations as a meeting place among all the nations, to foster peace in the world and the growth of the community of peoples in harmony, mutual respect and mutual enrichment. Countless documents and addresses of the Holy See at [the UN’s] highest levels and the intense participation of the Holy See’s representatives in the activities of many UN bodies attest to this.

The highest authorities of the UN have ever been aware of the importance of the moral and religious support of the Holy See for the growth of the community of nations: so they invited Popes to visit the organization and direct their words to the General Assembly. In the footsteps of Paul VI, John Paul II (twice) and Benedict XVI have done so. In short, the United Nations, at the highest levels, appreciate and desire the support of the Holy See and positive dialogue with it. So does the Holy See, for the good of the human family. This is the perspective in which the present questions ought to be raised.

International Conventions promoted by the United Nations are one of the ways in which the international community seeks to promote the dynamic of the search for peace and the promotion of the rights of the human person in specific fields. States are free to join. The Holy See/Vatican City State has adhered to those it considers most important in the light of its activities and its mission. (It should be noted that adherence to a Convention entails a commitment to participation, reports, etc. , which require staff and resources – for which reason the Holy See must choose [to adhere to] a limited number of Conventions, commensurate with its possibilities for participation). Among these, in a timely manner, the Holy See joined – among the first in the world – the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in the light of the great work done in this field, in many different forms ( educational, charitable , etc. . ) and for so long, by the Catholic community in the world, and in light of the Magisterium of the Church in this area, inspired by the behavior of Jesus described in the Gospels.

Naturally, the operations of the UN are vast and complex, and like any large organization – and precisely because of its international and as far as possible universal nature – embraces very different persons, positions and voices. It is therefore no wonder that in the vast world of the UN different visions shall encounter and even collide with each other. Therefore, in order that the overall result be positive, a great willingness to be open to dialogue is needed, along with attentive respect for essential rules and procedures, and in preparing activities.

For the verification of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child there is a committee based in Geneva, which holds two sessions a year, and which receives the reports of the different Party States, studies them and discusses them with the delegations sent by them, and formulates recommendations for better implementation of the provisions of the Convention. The recommendations made ​​by the Committee are often quite sparse and of relative weight. It is not by chance, that there is rarely heard a worldwide echo of the recommendations in the international press, even in the case of countries where problems of human rights and [problems regarding] children are known to be grave.

In the case of reports submitted to the Committee by the Holy See in recent months on the implementation of the Convention and the additional Protocols: ample written responses were given to the questions subsequently formulated by the Committee, after which followed a day for the hearing of a special delegation of the Holy See in Geneva on January 16. Now there has come, on February 5, the publication of the Committee 's concluding observations and recommendations . This [publication] has aroused extensive reaction and response.

What is there to observe in this regard?

First, the Holy See 's adherence to the Convention was motivated by a historical commitment of the universal Church and the Holy See for the sake of the children. Anyone who does not realize what this [commitment] represents for the sake of the children in the world today, is simply unfamiliar with this dimension of reality. The Holy See, therefore, as the Holy See’s Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin has said, continues its efforts to implement the Convention and to maintain an open, constructive and engaged dialogue with the organs contained therein. [The Holy See] will take its further positions and will give account of them, and so on, without trying to escape from a genuine dialogue, from the established procedures, with openness to justified criticism – but the Holy See will do so with courage and determination , without timidity.

At the same time, one cannot fail to see that the latest recommendations issued by the Committee appear to present – in the opinion of those who have followed well the process that preceded them – grave limitations.

They have not taken adequate account of the responses , both written and oral, given by the representatives of the Holy See . Those who have read and heard these answers do not find proportionate reflections of them in the document of the Committee, so as to suggest that it was practically already written, or at least already in large part blocked out before the hearing.

In particular, the [Observations’] lack of understanding of the specific nature of the Holy See seem serious. It is true that the Holy See is a reality different from other countries, and that this makes it less easy to understand the Holy See’s role and responsibilities . [These particularities], however, have been explained in detail many times in the Holy See’s twenty years and more of adherence to the Convention, and [specifically addressed] in recent written responses. [Are we dealing with] an inability to understand, or an unwillingness to understand? In either case, one is entitled to amazement.

The way in which the objections [contained in the Concluding Observations] were presented, as well as the insistence on diverse particular cases, seem to suggest that a much greater attention was given to certain NGOs, the prejudices of which against the Catholic Church and the Holy See are well known, rather than to the positions of the Holy See itself, which were also available in a detailed dialogue with the Committee. 

A lack of desire to recognize all the Holy See and the Church have done in recent years, [especially as regards] recognizing errors, renewing the regulations, and developing educational and preventive measures, is in fact typical of such organizations. Few, other organizations or institutions, if any, have done as much. This, however, is definitely not what one understands by reading the document in question.

Finally, and this is perhaps the most serious observation: the Committee’s comments in several directions seem to go beyond its powers and to interfere in the very moral and doctrinal positions of the Catholic Church, giving indications involving moral evaluations of contraception, or abortion, or education in families, or the vision of human sexuality, in light of [the Committee’s] own ideological vision of sexuality itself. For this reason, in the official communique released Wednesday morning there was talk of “an attempt to interfere in the teaching of the Catholic Church on the dignity of the human person and in the exercise of religious freedom.”

Finally, one cannot but observe that the tone, development, and the publicity given by the Committee in its document are absolutely anomalous when compared to its normal progress in relations with other States that are party to the Convention.

In sum: if the Holy See was certainly the subject of an initiative and a media attention in our view unfairly harmful, one needs to recognize that, in turn, the Committee has itself attracted much serious and well-founded criticism. Without desiring to place [responsibility for] what has transpired “[on] the United Nations”, it must be said that the UN carries the brunt of the negative consequences in public opinion, for the actions of a Committee that calls itself [by the UN name]. 

Let us try to find the correct plan of commitment for the good of the children – even through the instrument of the Convention. The Holy See will not allow its careful and reasoned responses to be lacking.


Holy See Address to UN Debate on Situation in Middle East
"The Holy See pledges to continue to work alongside those alleviating the suffering of all marginalized, uprooted and oppressed by conflict."

NEW YORK, January 22, 2014 - Here below we publish the intervention of Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN in the Security Council Open Debate on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” (New York, 20 January 2014)


Mr. President,

My Delegation congratulates you on this month’s Jordanian Presidency of the Security Council and commends your convening of this timely open debate on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. Jordan’s leadership draws on insights into the region of great benefit to this Council, and it will be from Amman in your own country that His Holiness Pope Francis, as a witness to peace, will begin his own pilgrimage of prayer to the Holy Land on May 24th of this year.

 For the Holy See, the resumption of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians constitutes a positive development, in regard to which Pope Francis has expressed the hope that “both parties will resolve, with the support of the international community, to take courageous decisions”.[1] Courageous decisions are seldom easy ones and can make demands on us that may be politically difficult and unpopular. Yet when faced with the reality of conflict in the Middle East all right-minded people see the need for change. Peace is not simply the absence of war but requires that the demands of justice are met for all peoples and communities. My Delegation, accordingly, joins its voice once more with all people of good will who welcome, with great hope, the re-engagement of direct, serious and concrete negotiations so that a rejuvenated peace process may help unfold better prospects for the future.

Of great significance, furthermore, is the recent agreement of the Permanent Members of this Council and Germany with Iran in respect to its nuclear programme, which offers great hopes that an era of distrust may be displaced by a new climate of trust and cooperation and it is hoped that it will be fully implemented and open the path to a definitive agreement.

Mr. President,

The Holy See has urgently and repeatedly voiced its clear concerns for the peace and welfare of all the peoples of the Middle East. Most recently it has been the ongoing situation in Syria which has prompted Pope Francis to renew the Holy See’s profound solicitude for the situation in the whole of this region. Calling the Catholic faithful to prayer and fasting for Syria in September last year, Pope Francis made a heartfelt plea “that the violence and devastation in Syria may cease immediately and that a renewed effort be undertaken to achieve a just solution to this fratricidal conflict.”[2] “Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake,” said the pope: “War begets war, violence begets violence.”[3]

Mr. President,

May the Geneva II talks on January 22nd be an occasion for a renewed reflection on the criteria needed to offer a new start for this beautiful nation left prey to indescribable destruction and loss of lives! These must include an immediate ceasefire without procrastinations owing to political preconditions, including a renewed commitment to promoting initiatives of peace instead of the sending and funding of arms, which has escalated the violence and conflict. At the same time, this must involve an immediate roll-out of humanitarian assistance and reconstruction for the countless refugees and displaced persons being housed temporarily in neighbouring countries, where so many suffer life-threatening deprivations, inter alia, of nutrition, safe drinking water and basic sanitation. The urgency of rebuilding peace trumps the resolution of other political and social questions, though such rebuilding certainly will need to include new forms of political participation and representation that ensure the voice and security of all groups calling Syria their home.

The Pope has expressed his deep concern for those experiencing relocation and displacement in efforts to escape incessant violence, as well as for those nations challenged by the influx of a great number of refugees. The international community cannot stand aloof to their praiseworthy efforts to assist. The Holy See – through its wide array of educational, health care and social service outreach efforts – pledges to continue to work alongside those alleviating the suffering of all marginalized, uprooted and oppressed by conflict.

Many of these refugees constitute a worrying exodus of Christians from their bi-millennial homelands owing, among other causes, to the targeting and instability visited upon them by fundamentalist and extremist forces. Interreligious dialogue and reconciliation will be required, thus, to restore the balance in the rich and complex pluralism of Syrian society. The Holy See stands ready to support all religious communities in their efforts to reach new understandings and the restoration of trust after these years of violence, revenge and recrimination.

Mr. President,

The Syrian people have demonstrated by their history an ability to live together in peace. Regional and international rivalries, therefore, that have little to do with the Syrian communities themselves, must be set aside, so that at the heart of the discussions are not these interests but rather those of the individual human person and the good of Syria. To this end all the interested parties are called to work together if conditions for lasting peace are to be put in place. The Geneva II talks must, accordingly, ensure inclusive participation for all parties to this conflict, in the region and beyond. The Holy See, by its presence, wholeheartedly wishes to support this objective.

Finally, I wish to call to mind the concern expressed by Pope Francis for the ongoing political problems in Lebanon, and also for Iraq, which struggles to attain the peace and stability for which it hopes.

Mr. President,

For the United Nations the challenges of the Middle East are a clarion call for its peacemaking role, the very raison d’être for this institution. May this open debate help muster the much needed political will to spur the international community to make a real difference in the lives of the peoples of the Middle East and help them to fulfil their dream of long-awaited peace! The global economic situation no longer permits that the international community continue indefinitely to fund growing refugee populations. Political solutions are the best solutions even for the economies of these countries because peace is the necessary precondition for the socio-economic stability capable of attracting development funds. In his address to the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See on January 13th, therefore, Pope Francis urged the whole world with great insistence to address the problems of the Middle East and to act, before any further deterioration of the situation occurs.[4]

I thank you, Mr. President.

[1]Address of Pope Francis to Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 13 January 2014.

[2]Words after the Angelus Prayer of Pope Francis, Saint Peter's Square, Sunday, 8 September 2013.

[3] Words during the Angelus Prayer of Pope Francis, St. Peter’s Square, Sunday, 1 September 2013.

[4]Address of Pope Francis to Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 13 January 2014.

Vatican Statement on Moneyval Adoption of Holy See Progress Report
"significant progress has been made"

VATICAN CITY, December 09, 2013 - Here is a communique from the Vatican press office regarding today's adoption by Moneyval of the Progress Report of the Holy See and the Vatican State.

* * *

Today, the Plenary Meeting of MONEYVAL (the “Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism”) has approved the Progress Report of the Holy See/ Vatican City State. The Progress Report follows the adoption of the Mutual Evaluation Report on 4 July 2012 and is part of the ordinary process according to the Rules of Procedure of MONEYVAL.

Progress reviews are subject to peer review by the Plenary and ascribe no formal re-ratings to the Mutual Evaluation Report. However, MONEYVAL welcomes clarifications and improvements to the anti-money laundering and combatting financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) legal structure of the Holy See and the Vatican City State and confirms that significant progress has been made.

Upon request by the Holy See and the Vatican City State the MONEYVAL Secretariat agreed to carry out a full progress review. Therefore, the report contains an analysis of progress against the core and, in addition, key recommendations of the FATF, the international standards on combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

“The adoption of the Progress Report confirms the significant efforts undertaken by the Holy See and the Vatican City State to strengthen its legal and institutional framework”, said Monsignor Antoine Camilleri, Under Secretary for Relations with States, and Head of Delegation of the Holy See and Vatican City State to MONEYVAL. “The Holy See is fully committed to continuing to improve further the effective implementation of all necessary measures to build a well functioning and sustainable system aimed at preventing and fighting financial crimes.”

In accordance with the Moneyval Rules of Procedure, the Progress Report will be published fully by the Moneyval Secretariat on its website on Thursday.

The “key achievements” obtained at legislative and operative levels following the Mutual Evaluation Report of 4.7.2012 are summarised herebelow.

Key achievements at the legislative level

Since 4 July 2012 three Motu Proprios by His Holiness, Pope Francis, along with a series of new laws have strengthened the Financial Intelligence Authority (AIF) and have specified the legal framework with regard to the criminal law system, financial transparency, supervision, financial intelligence and requirements to effectively combat money laundering and terrorist financing:

Strengthening of AIF - Broadening the scope of law enforcement

Amendments of the AML/CFT Law of 14 December 2012

The Law on the Prevention and Countering of Laundering of Proceeds of Crimes and Financing of Terrorism N. CXXVII, which came into force on 1 April 2011 and had been amended twice, was further amended on 14 December 2012 to abolish the nihil obstat - the prior consent - of the Secretariat of State for the signature of international agreements (“Memoranda of Understanding” – MOU) by AIF, in order to ensure full autonomy of AIF in its international cooperation (the Law of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State, N. CLXXXV).

Motu Proprio of Pope Francis and the Laws on Criminal Matters of 11 July 2013

In accordance with the recommendations of the Mutual Evaluation Report a wide-ranging reform of the criminal law system was enacted (by laws of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State Law N. VIII, Law N. IX), while His Holiness Pope Francis issued a Motu Proprio on the Jurisdiction of Vatican City State on Criminal Matters.

The new criminal laws cover all terrorist offences set forth in the Conventions annexed to the Terrorist Financing Convention as well as a new approach to the administrative liability of legal persons arising from crime. In particular, a modern scheme on confiscation, freezing and seizure has been adopted. The Motu Proprio extended the jurisdiction of the Vatican Tribunal over criminal offences - including the financing of terrorism and money laundering - committed by public officials of the Holy See in the context of the exercise of their functions, even if outside Vatican territory. In addition, by Law N. X of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State a legal framework has been established for the application of sanctions for administrative violations.

Motu Proprio of His Holiness, Pope Francis, of 8 August 2013 and the Decree introducing norms relating to transparency, supervision and financial intelligence, N. XI of 8 August 2013, confirmed by the Law introducing norms relating to transparency, supervision and financial intelligence, N. XVIII of 8 October 2013

His Holiness, Pope Francis, by Motu Proprio for the Prevention and Countering of Money Laundering, the Financing of Terrorism and the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction of 8 August 2013, strengthened the supervisory and regulatory function of the Financial Intelligence Authority and established the function of prudential supervision over entities professionally engaged in financial activities. Furthermore, the Financial Security Committee has been established for the purpose of coordinating the competent authorities of the Holy See and the Vatican City State in the area of prevention and countering of money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The same additional laws introduced norms relating to transparency, supervision and financial intelligence (Decree of the President of the Governorate N. XI, confirmed by Law of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State, N. XVIII).

This new AML/CFT Act of the Holy See and the Vatican City State introduces a comprehensive system in accordance with the international standards to fight money-laundering and financing of terrorism and is a further step towards strengthening the system to actively combat any potential misuse of financial activities within the Vatican City State. It deals with financial transparency, supervision, and financial intelligence, clarifying and consolidating the functions, powers and responsibilities of the AIF. It provides, amongst others, for extended supervisory and regulatory powers of the AIF and empowers it with prudential supervisory functions.

New Statute of AIF

With the Motu Proprio of 18 November 2013 His Holiness, Pope Francis, established new organisational structure of the AIF. The new structure clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of its organs, the President, the Board and the Directorate, and ensures that AIF may effectively fulfill its institutional functions with full autonomy and independence, and consistently with the institutional and legal framework of the Holy See and the Vatican City State.

Key operational achievements

Important results of the implementation of policies and regulatory procedures were, amongst others:

International cooperation of financial supervisor

Since the adoption of the Mutual Evaluation Report, the Holy See and the Vatican City State have put a strong emphasis on international cooperation. In July 2013, AIF was admitted to the Egmont Group and over the last months has signed MOUs with Belgium, Spain, USA, Italy, Slovenia, the Netherlands and, most recently, Germany. It is currently in the process of signing further MOUs with several Financial Intelligence Units of other countries and will continue to broaden its international network to fight money laundering and terrorism financing.

Review and remediation processes in institutions under supervision of AIF

The analysis of MONEYVAL takes note of the conclusion of a preliminary review of the customer data base of the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR) by the end of 2012. It acknowledges an in-depth audit of customer records and remediation, including analysis of transactions, based on the findings of this first phase and under the supervision of AIF that was launched at the beginning of 2013. This process is still ongoing. Furthermore it was noted that by Board resolution of 4 July 2013 the IOR redefined the categories of customers entitled to IOR services and published them in July 2013 on the website of IOR.

A functioning AML/CFT reporting System

Since the adoption of the Mutual Evaluation Report, an ongoing trend toward increased reporting of suspicious activity from different reporting entities, with a significant growth in 2013, can be observed. Investigations based on STRs have been started and freezing orders initiated. Due to the remediation process and improved transaction monitoring processes the AIF recorded a significant rise in suspicious transaction reports (STR). In the area of international cooperation, AIF has entered into an active exchange of information with various Financial Intelligence Units and the Holy See and the Vatican City State requested mutual legal assistance on a domestic case.


Holy See to UN on Palestinian Refugees

NEW YORK, November 11, 2013  - Here is the Nov. 7 intervention by Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, at the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly on Item 51: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East

* * *

Mr. Chairman,

           Having carefully reviewed the Report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)[1] as well as his address to the meeting of the UNRWA Advisory Commission held in Amman, Jordan, 16 June 2013, my Delegation wishes to draw attention to the views he expressed and the clarity of the solutions he proposes for what has become a most complex situation for Palestine refugees in the region.

In that region, which is home to the earliest Christian communities, the Catholic Church shares those same harsh realities on the ground which confront UNRWA daily. Working with generous donor agencies from the United States, Germany, Japan, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, the United Kingdom and other countries, the Holy See provides education, health care and social services for the population as well as rehabilitation facilities for those injured in conflicts. We provide this on the basis of need, not creed, to all victims of the region’s political, economic and social instability. Our own concerns go beyond these basic services, as do UNRWA’s, insofar as these conflicts destroy homes, rending refugees homeless, jobless and helpless. With family wage-earners debilitated, imprisoned or killed, destitute families seek assistance from NGOs serving alongside UNRWA in this troubled area.

Mr. Chairman,

             The concerns of the Commissioner-General, detailed in his reports to the General Assembly and UNRWA Advisory Commission are the  same as those of the Holy See, confronted, as we are, with an ever shrinking presence of traditional Christian communities in the very birthplace of Christianity. For both UNRWA and the Holy See the financial burdens for providing services to frequently displaced populations of refugees constitutes a growing problem, requiring more funding from donor countries. Current global financial and economic realities, however, speak against funding increases as donor countries struggle with debt and high levels of unemployment, especially youth unemployment.

             The rejuvenated peace process brings some hope to this bleak outlook. A “bona fide” peace between Israelis and Palestinians would create possibilities for economic investment rather than burdening donor countries and humanitarian agencies with more requests for additional funding. A successful peace conference on Syria scheduled to take place in Geneva would bring further relief to the suffering of Palestinian refugee populations who find themselves refugees yet again, on account of theatres of war surrounding seven of twelve UNRWA Palestine refugee camps in Syria.

             My Delegation urges the Quartet and all those assisting in the resumption of the peace process to spare no effort in facilitating negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. The objective must be to secure through negotiation and reasonable compromise two viable and stable States which give each of the parties independent and secure States for their peoples. This is no small task in light of the political diversities which exist within each of the conflicting communities and the 64 tragic years of interminable conflict between them.

 Mr. Chairman,

             Pope Francis met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on October 17th and expressed the hope that the resumed “peace process may bear fruit and enable a just and lasting solution to be found to the conflict, an increasingly necessary and urgent objective”. He also voiced the hope that “the parties to the conflict will make courageous and determined decisions in order to promote peace, with the support of the international community”.[2]

 My Delegation accordingly wishes to underline that a lasting solution in these peace negotiations must include the status of our Holy City, Jerusalem. The Holy See firmly supports “internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and of conscience of its inhabitants,” their legitimate right to property as well as “permanent, fair and unhindered access to the Holy Places by the faithful of all religions and nationalities”.[3]

 Mr. Chairman,

             It would be remiss of my Delegation, finally, if we did not extend an expression of our appreciation to the governments of Lebanon and Jordan for their enduring collaboration with UNRWA in housing Palestine refugees and now contending heroically with the influx of refugees from Syria and the sectarian violence in Iraq. The humanitarian cries of these refugee populations must not fall on deaf ears. Peacemaking must replace the futile and counterproductive logic of violence and war. Let us never give up the hope that the unquenchable quest for that peace, so much needed and desired, will eventually dawn in that land so sacred to so many.

             Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

(1)  A/68/13

(2)  Vatican Information Service, Year XXII - #199, 17-10-2013.

(3)  Cf. A/RES/ES – 10/12


Holy See to UN on Food Security: Clearly More Needs to Be Done
"Hunger, like all forms of poverty, is caused by exclusion. Consequently, we can only eliminate hunger and food insecurity by promoting inclusion"

NEW YORK, October 30, 2013 - Here is the address given Tuesday by Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, to the Second Committee of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly on Agriculture development, food security and nutrition.

* * *

Madame Chair,

Food is one of the most basic human needs. The fundamental right to adequate food and its importance to human development and flourishing is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed consistently in different international declarations since then through a number of United Nations resolutions and reports. Matching the volume of reports are the numerous commitments to end hunger, commitments from national governments, international agencies and civil society. Yet in today’s world many nations still face periodic food crisis. Clearly more needs to be done.

In this regard, my Delegation welcomes the Secretary General’s report on Agricultural Development, Food Security and Nutrition (A/68/311) and its focus on continuing international efforts to reduce malnutrition and poverty in so many regions of the developing world. Moreover, the recent note by the Secretary General transmitting the interim report on the ‘Right to Food’ (A/68/288) has particular relevance.

Hunger, like all forms of poverty, is caused by exclusion. Consequently, we can only eliminate hunger and food insecurity by promoting inclusion. Here we could follow Pope Francis’ simple advice: “Every proposal must involve everyone” and we must leave “behind the temptations of power, wealth or self-interest” and instead serve “the human family, especially the needy and those suffering from hunger and malnutrition.”[1]

In addressing the issue of agriculture development, food security and nutrition, my Delegation supports the principle of the human right to food, which requires this issue to be seen firstly through a human rights lens, which places the human person at the center of our understanding of this fundamental issue. In our efforts to promote “a life of dignity for all”[2] we must work for agriculture policies that promote inclusion, respect for the dignity and rights of those still on the margins of today’s society, and the well-being of current and future generations.

By pointing out the problem of exclusion and the need for inclusion, we bring up the uncomfortable fact that hunger is not caused by the lack of sufficient food to feed every person on the planet. As Pope Francis noted: “It is a well-known fact that current levels of production are sufficient, yet millions of people are still suffering and dying of starvation. This […] is truly scandalous. A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.”[3]

While improvements in food production remains an important goal, food security will be achieved by all only when we change social structures and when we learn to show greater solidarity towards the poor and the hungry. Hunger is not just a technical problem awaiting technological solutions. Hunger is a human problem that demands solutions based on our common humanity.

The tragedy of hunger amidst plenty is exacerbated by the excessive waste of economic resources, especially food. But there is also considerable waste in the overall system of production and distribution of food. The FAO estimates that 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted every year. Often this waste is due to the fact that wasting food can be more profitable than ensuring that food goes to those in extreme need. "Whenever food is thrown out,” Pope Francis points out, “it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor, from the hungry!"[4]

Madame Chair,

In promoting a human rights based and humanitarian approach to food security, it is necessary to link food to non-discrimination and universal access. Too often, access to food becomes a weapon for controlling, at times even subjugating, populations, rather than a tool for building peaceful and prosperous communities.

To bring about an effective distribution of food, the principle of subsidiarity provides helpful guidance. This principle recommends that human activities be carried out at the most local and immediate level possible, so as to maximize participation. Larger entities have the responsibility to support smaller ones first, and only take over when these smaller groups are unable to carry out their activities effectively. Subsidiarity helps sustain food security because food security consists not solely in giving food to people; it means helping them become self-sufficient so that they provide their own food, either by growing it themselves or by exchanging for food the goods and services they provide. Thus, getting people involved in the process of solving food insecurity is an essential step in achieving this goal.

In conclusion, while there will not be a one-size-fits-all solution to food insecurity and hunger, there needs to be the one goal of food security for all so that there will be ever fewer people suffering from poverty and hunger in our world.

Thank you, Madame Chair.

[1] Pope Francis, Address to participants in the 38th Conference of the FAO, 20 June 2013

[2] A/68/202

[3] Ibid.

[4] Id.


Archbishop Francis Chulllikatt's Address to the UN General Assembly on Disarmament

NEW YORK, October 23, 2013  - Here is the address given by Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, during the 68th session of the UN General Assembly regarding weapons disarmament.

* * *

Item 99: “General and Complete Disarmament”

Mr Chairman,

The First Committee meets this year at a moment of extraordinary opportunity. In the past few weeks, we have seen vivid action taken in the long struggle to rid the world of chemical and nuclear weapons.

The recent UN Security Council’s unanimous resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons has historic importance. However, in that regard the Secretary General noted: “a red light for one form of weapons did not mean a green light for others”. He therefore called for a complete stop to all violence and for all weapons to be silenced.

Another hopeful opportunity that has presented itself is the day-long unprecedented High-level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament in the General Assembly on September 26. From nearly every corner of the world -- Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America – Heads of State and Government and other high officials called for action to begin comprehensive negotiations to ban all nuclear weapons. It was impressive to see such an outcry of concern at what is aptly called the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” of the use of nuclear weapons.

The willingness of the world as a whole to move forward in a constructive manner to eliminate nuclear weapons has never been more evident. Yet a very small number of States stand in the way, trying to block progress and to find a comprehensive solution to the problem that goes on year after year in paralysis and obfuscation.

It was clear at the High-level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament that States around the world want to see the implementation of the 2010 decision of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference to convene a meeting to develop a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

The progress made in the Syrian conflict and the prospect of a political solution on the horizon set the stage for the holding of the Middle East conference. This process dates back to 1995 when the NPT Review and Extension Conference adopted a resolution to address all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. The failure of the international community to fulfill that promise has jeopardized the credibility of the NPT and the future of that region. With the 2015 NPT Review Conference quickly approaching, it is imperative that steps be taken to set a firm date for the holding of the conference.

It is sadly ironic that States vociferous in their condemnation of chemical weapons are silent on the continued possession of nuclear weapons. The international community must appeal and act with one voice to ban all weapons of mass destruction.

The prospects for the cooperation of all States on a new agenda for peace have suddenly taken an upturn. This work requires the continued advocacy and cooperation of all. A better world awaits us if we reduce the excessively high military spending and if we set aside part of military expenditures for a world fund to relieve the needs of developing and least developed nations. This committee, dedicated to reducing armaments worldwide must always be conscious of the true needs for achieving sustainable international peace and security. We must end myopic militarism and concentrate on the long-range needs of the human family.

Mr Chairman,

As the Holy See stated at the recent High-level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament, “[I]t is time to counter the logic of fear with the ethic of responsibility, fostering a climate of trust and sincere dialogue, capable of promoting a culture of peace, founded on the primacy of law and the common good, through a coherent and responsible cooperation between all members of the international community.”

Our world has never been so interdependent and interconnected; now more than ever we cannot risk falling into a “globalization of indifference”.

It is illusory to think that the security and peace of some can be assured without the security and peace of others. In an age like ours which is undergoing profound social and geopolitical shifts, awareness has been growing that national security interests are deeply linked to those related to international security, just as the human family moves gradually together and everywhere is becoming more conscious of its unity and interdependency.

Peace, security and stability cannot be gained strictly by military means, nor by increasing military spending, since these are multidimensional objectives which include aspects that are not linked only to the political and military sphere, but also to those of human rights, the rule of law, economic and social conditions, and the protection of the environment. These are things which have as their principal purpose the promotion of a true, integral human development, where wisdom, reason and the force of law must prevail over violence, aggression and the law of force.

Peace is an edifice in continual construction which lays its foundations not so much in force as in trust, confidence-building, on respect for obligations assumed and on dialogue. Without these fundamental elements one places at risk not solely peace, but also the very existence of the human family. The field of disarmament and arms control constantly demands the use of our wisdom and good will.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.


Archbishop Dominique Mamberti's Address at UN General Assembly in New York

NEW YORK, September 27, 2013 - Here is the intervention delivered by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for the Holy See's Relations with States during the high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on nuclear disarmament in New York yesterday.

* * *

Mr. President,

The General Assembly resolution calling for today’s High-Level meeting on Nuclear Disarmament expressed the common conviction that the complete elimination of nuclear weapons is essential to remove the danger of nuclear war, a goal that must have our highest priority. The Holy See, which has long called for the banishment of these weapons of mass destruction, joins in this concerted effort to give vigorous expression to the cry of humanity to be freed from the spectre of nuclear warfare.

Under the terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, states are enjoined to make "good faith" efforts to negotiate the elimination of nuclear weapons. Can we say there is "good faith" when modernization programs of the nuclear weapons states continue despite their affirmations of eventual nuclear disarmament? Concern over the proliferation of nuclear weapons into other countries ring hollow as long as the nuclear weapons states hold on to their nuclear weapons. If today’s special meeting is to have any historic significance, it must result in a meaningful commitment by the nuclear weapons states to divest themselves of their nuclear weapons.

Five years ago, the Secretary-General offered a Five-Point Plan for Nuclear Disarmament. It is past time for this plan to be given the serious attention it deserves. The centre-piece is the negotiation of a Nuclear Weapons Convention or a framework of instruments leading directly to a global ban on nuclear weapons. This is a clear-cut goal, fully understandable and supportable by all those who truly want the world to move beyond the dark doctrines of mutual assured destruction.

It is now imperative for us to address in a systematic and coherent manner the legal, political and technical requisites for a world free from nuclear arms. For this reason, we should begin as soon as possible preparatory work on the Convention or a framework agreement for a phased and verifiable elimination of nuclear arms.

The chief obstacle to starting this work is continued adherence to the doctrine of nuclear deterrence. With the end of the Cold War, the time for the acceptance of this doctrine is long passed. The Holy See does not countenance the continuation of nuclear deterrence, since it is evident it is driving the development of ever newer nuclear arms, thus preventing genuine nuclear disarmament.

For many years, the world has been told that a number of steps will lead eventually to nuclear disarmament. Such argumentation is belied by the extraordinary nature of today’s meeting, which surely would not have been called if the steps were working. They are not. It is the military doctrine of nuclear deterrence, politically supported by the nuclear weapons states, that must be addressed in order to break the chain of dependence on deterrence. Starting work on a global approach to providing security without relying on nuclear deterrence is urgent.

We cannot justify the continuation of a permanent nuclear deterrence policy, given the loss of human, financial and material resources in time of scarcity of funds for health, education and social services around the world and in the face of current threats to human security, such as poverty, climate change, terrorism and transnational crimes. All this should make us consider the ethical dimension and the moral legitimacy of the production, processing, development, accumulation, use and threat of use of nuclear arms. We must emphasize anew that military doctrines based on nuclear arms, as instruments of security and defence of an élite group, in a show of power and supremacy, retard and jeopardize the process of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

It is time to counter the logic of fear with the ethic of responsibility, fostering a climate of trust and sincere dialogue, capable of promoting a culture of peace, founded on the primacy of law and the common good, through a coherent and responsible cooperation between all members of the international community.


Archbishop Luigi Travaglino´s Address to the 38th Session of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization Conference

ROME, June 20, 2013  - Here is a translation of the address of the Apostolic Nuncio and head of the Holy See Delegation, H.E. Archbishop Luigi Travaglino, which he gave yesterday during the 38th Session of the United Nation´s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on the “The State of Food Insecurity in the World.”

* * *

Mister President,

Mister Director General,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all I wish to thank you, Mister President, for giving me the floor and, at the same time, I address a deferent greeting to you, which I extend to the distinguished Delegations gathered here.

On this occasion the Holy See Delegation wishes to confirm its appreciation of FAO’s activity, geared to fostering agricultural development and to guaranteeing food security, as well as to reaffirming its willingness to support this task which concerns a fundamental aspect of the life of individual persons and communities.

At this time of particular difficulty for the world economy, our encouragement is addressed to all the interested parties so that they further the implementation of programs of the Organization in the different sectors of agriculture, forests and fishing, especially in view of the objective of food security, which is becoming indispensable. However, we must pass from words to facts, putting at FAO’s disposition the necessary resources. This implies solidarity to be rendered concrete through a contribution to the budget, proportional to the capacity and needs of each one. This will enable FAO to work in a profitable, coherent and transparent way, and will enable all to look at the future with greater serenity and confidence.

From the examination of the Program of work for the past two years, the validity emerges of the action carried out in continuity by FAO, as well as the willingness of Member States, though in different positions as contributors to the resources and of beneficiaries of aid. It is a positive sign in the face of the endemic and recurrent food crises that, not only impede the integral development of every human being, but constitute an evident violation of his fundamental rights; a sign that enables so many countries to re-launch their production, to reconsider the food needs of their inhabitants and to plan a less uncertain future. In fact, it is increasingly evident that agricultural activity is an essential factor to determine the general productive capacity of a country. The resources of agriculture, of breeding, of fishing and of related sectors are an important contribution for work, employment and conditions of economic development, in addition to contributing to the nutritional need. Moreover their willingness is essential for forms of aid which have become increasingly important for the most diverse emergency situations caused by conflicts, forced displacements of populations and, not least, climate changes.

In regard to planning for the next two-year period, the Holy See Delegation hopes that the forms of support will be increased for the activities and practices of craftsmanship, that are the basic economic reality for the greater part of developing countries, which have in monoculture, in forest resources, in the exploitation of marine resources or in aquaculture, an essential reference – and often unfortunately the only one – for their economies and for their food availability. This could be a specific way to give coherent implementation to some of the Objectives of the Revised Strategic Cadre on which it is hoped to direct the future activity of the Organization. The reduction of rural poverty and the improvement of the capacity of resilience in case of crisis can be facilitated by agriculture on a small scale, especially by family agricultural enterprise, in whose interior the transmission takes place of fundamental values, the safeguarding of traditional knowledge, the relation between generations and the irreplaceable role of woman.

For the Holy See it is a priority which will certainly be valued in the next year dedicated by FAO to the rural family, towards which the Catholic Church also manifests her attention and constant availability to collaborate with her resources and structures, as well as through the experience of associations and cooperatives of farmers, fishermen and craftsmen.

The agenda of this Conference offers a further reason for reflection attracting attention on the ways of implementing the policies of agricultural development, combining them with the international action of cooperation and aid. The integral growth of different countries, of communities and of persons calls for the adoption of specific instruments to guarantee the effective responsible conduct of States, first of all to ensure an adequate level of food security to the respective populations, as well as to foster a change in lifestyles linked to excessive consumption, to the waste of food or to the use of agricultural products other than for food. In particular, for the Holy See Delegation the reference to the sustainability of food systems cannot be limited to work techniques, to the conservation of resources or to the exchange of information. The goal of agricultural and food sustainability could be more effective if it is linked also to a full participation of the rural populations in the elaboration of plans of action and strategy, as well as in the effort of carrying them out in keeping with the imperatives of the integral development of individuals and of communities. It seems that this approach to sustainability linked to the human person might contribute to give meaning to the responsibility we all have in regard to future generations.

The responsibility itself is translated into the various aspects that interest different sectors of agriculture, of forests and of fishing, not only for questions linked to the ecology, but also to the management of the resources which is, in the end, also attention to the so-called ecological responsibility.

In this phase of rethinking of the whole strategy of development by the System of the United Nations, the responsibility concerns the sustainable use of the agro-food resources in relation to the growing demand for foods. These, in fact, although produced at the world level in quantities clearly superior to the real requirements of the present world population, do not succeed in eliminating or at least reducing drastically the number of the hungry. The necessity seems evident to specify the distinction between resources that are not immediately renewable, such as the case of water and soils, or those which instead have the possibility of being renewed if adequately managed, as is the case of bio-diversities. The question then is posed on the plane of the political will and responsibility in regard to future strategies of development.

Responsibility requires greater coherence and fidelity to the rules on which FAO bases its action. The reference goes in the first place to the diverse guidelines that from the right to food are completed with the questions regarding access to land, the question of land regimes to those regarding the environmental compatibility of the agricultural activity. All realms that have so much weight in the action for development, but whose binding force resides not only in the formal aspect but in ever more tangible sharing. What is hoped for, therefore, is a work of elaboration of apposite guidelines that specify the objective of sustainability for the various sectors based on the indicators of food insecurity, of malnutrition, if only with a particular consideration for the regional and sub-regional peculiarities. This could favor a greater level of responsible connection between the activities of cooperation and aid for food security, the elimination of poverty, the safeguarding of the resources and the protection of different ecosystems of the agricultural world.

The preservation of the genetic patrimony calls, therefore, for responsibility in supervising the activities that cause damages, often irreparable , reducing the multiplicity of species and, consequently, modifying or limiting be it the food regimes of entire populations be it the possibility of employment. In this realm the lack of reference to an although minimal regulation risks excluding from the productive cycles the countries that do not have the possibility to protect their resources, and, therefore, can lose consistent contributions in nutritional terms. The responsibility in regard to such a problem cannot but be limited to propose systems of control, although necessary, but must find solutions that are, first of all, to the advantage of the rural communities and of groups of natives that remain, in many cases, the only custodians of the resources of Creation.

The strong concerns over the global economic crisis cannot allow one to forget its repercussion on the trade of products from agriculture, from the forests and from fishing. These, in addition to constituting an essential food component, are linked directly to the multilateral rules of the commercial sector. In FAO’s activity, in fact, the concern is not lacking for the reinforcement of commercialization, and this makes one understand how necessary it is to move in a just direction in the realm of negotiations on trade, above all to provide a regulation that takes into account some essential aspects. I am referring to the criteria of management of the production that, if directed only to profit, risks determining a greater volatility of prices with negative consequences for food security and nutritional regimes. It is not only a question of favoring an increase of productivity or of providing the greatest possible access to the food market, but of reviewing those policies of support thought out only to guarantee particular areas or interests and which in practice are transformed into more or less obvious forms of protection. To be considered and prepared instead are measures that allow all countries -- in particular those that are developing – to have the necessary foods and to place their own production on the international market, above all when it represents the only source of income, in addition to being the natural source of revenue and of economic activity for the population.

Mister President,

In the light of these reflections, the Holy See Delegation recalls the need of an essentially ethical perspective, within which every decision and consequent action is the fruit of the principle of solidarity, which is the basis of a just and peaceful coexistence between nations. Thus the effective development of each and all will be able to be promoted concretely, also through the complex decisions of a political, economic and financial order which will have to be taken in relation to FAO’s activity.

Given that, to respect the limits of time, I have limited myself to present only some points of my address, I ask you, Mister President, to make it possible for the full text to be published in the Proces-Verbaux.

Finally permit me to remind the numerous Delegations present of the meeting that tomorrow, June 20, the Conference will have with His Holiness Pope Francis, in keeping with a long tradition, initiated exactly 60 years ago with the advent of FAO in Rome.

Thank you.


Statement by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi at 23rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

GENEVA, June 10, 2013  - Here is the statement delivered by Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permament Observer of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva at the 23rd Session of the Human Rights Council on the Right to Health. The session dealt with the theme "Access to Medicines.

* * *

Mr. President,

The Delegation of the Holy See has carefully reviewed the Report on Access to Medicines. While the Special Rapporteur maintains that "Full realization of access to medicines requires the fulfillment of key elements of availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality," my Delegation found that the Report gave insufficient attention to certain factors cited as "key elements" by the Special Rapporteur.

With regard to accessibility, my Delegation believes that a comprehensive analysis of this crucial topic must reach beyond legal frameworks to include an examination of the social and political realities that deprive millions of people from enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health because of the obstacles that they place on access to medicines.

Article 25 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights clearly adopted such a comprehensive perspective when it declared: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."

Thus the Holy See Delegation found that the Report paid insufficient attention to basic needs of individuals and families, at all stages of the life cycle from conception to natural death. Such challenges often block access to medicines as much as, if not more than, the various legal factors that occupied the main focus of the Report. Effective reversal of such obstacles requires an integral human development approach that promotes just legal frameworks as well as international solidarity, not only among States, but also among and between all peoples. Thus the Holy See noted, with alarm, "the difficulties millions of people face as they seek to obtain minimal subsistence and the medicines they need to cure themselves" and called for "establishing true distributive justice which guarantees everyone adequate care on the basis of objective needs."1

The Report made frequent references to the obligation of States to set the conditions for access to medicine. While governmental fulfillment of such responsibility is a clear prerequisite, the strong engagement of non-governmental and religious organizations in providing both medicines and a wide range of treatment and preventive measures to ensure the full enjoyment of the right to health also should have been acknowledged. From its contacts down to the grass-root level with 5,305 hospitals and 18,179 clinics2 inspired and organized under Catholic Church auspices throughout the world, the Holy See is well aware that these institutions serve the poorest sectors of society, many of whom live in rural and isolated areas or in conflict zones, where governmental health systems often do not reach. This fact has been confirmed by professional mapping exercises, with support and collaboration of the World Health Organization, which reported that "between 30 and 70 per cent of the health infrastructure in Africa is currently owned by faith-based organizations."3

Mr. President, optimal facilitation of access to medicine is a complex endeavor and deserves comprehensive analysis and acknowledgement of all factors contributing to its promotion, rather than a more restricted analysis of legal, economic, and political frameworks.

Thank you, Mr. President.


1 "Health Care cannot divorce itself from moral rules," Message of Pope Benedict XVI , to the participants in the 25th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, 15 November 2010

2 Catholic Church Statistics, Agenzia Fides, Vatican City, 21 October 2012.

3 Dr. Kevin De Cock (then-Director of HIV/AIDS Services, World Health Organization), "Faith-based organizations play major role in fighting HIV/AIDS – UN study," 9 February 2007,


Archbishop Silvano Tomasi's Address to the UN Human Rights Council Interactive Dialogue

GENEVA, May 29, 2013  - Statement by His Excellency Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva 23rd Session of the Human Rights Council Interactive Dialogue

Geneva, May 27, 2013

Mr. President,

My Delegation congratulates Madam High Commissioner for her presentation as well as for the activities of her office for the promotion, recognition and implementation of human rights.

Mr. President,

The serious violations of the right to freedom of religion in general and the recent continuing discrimination and systematic attacks inflicted on some Christian communities in particular, deeply concern the Holy See and many democratic Governments whose population embrace various religious and cultural traditions. Credible research has reached the shocking conclusion that an estimate of more than 100,000 Christians are violently killed because of some relation to their faith every year. Other Christians and other believers are subjected to forced displacement, to the destruction of their places of worship, to rape and to the abduction of their leaders -as it recently happened in the case of Bishops Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, in Aleppo (Syria).

Several of these acts have been perpetrated in parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, the fruit of bigotry, intolerance, terrorism and some exclusionary laws. In addition, in some Western countries where historically the Christian presence has been an integral part of society, a trend emerges that tends to marginalize Christianity in public life, ignore historic and social contributions and even restrict the ability of faith communities to carry out social charitable services.

Mr. President, The Human Rights Council has recognized that "religion, spirituality and belief may and can contribute to the promotion of the inherent dignity and worth of the human person." The Christian religion, as other faith-communities, is "at the service of the true good of humanity." In fact "Christian communities, with their patrimony of values and principles, have contributed much to making individuals and peoples aware of their identity and their dignity".

In this connection, it may be useful that the Delegation of the Holy See should recall some pertinent data on the current services to the human family carried out in the world by the Catholic Church without any distinction of religion or race. In the field of education, it runs 70,544 kindergartens with 6,478,627 pupils; 92,847 primary schools with 31,151,170 pupils; 43,591 secondary schools with 17,793,559 pupils. The Church also educates 2,304,171 high school pupils, and 3,338,455 university students. The Church’s worldwide charity and healthcare centres include: 5,305 hospitals; 18,179 dispensaries; 547 Care Homes for people with Leprosy; 17,223 Homes for the elderly, or the chronically ill or people with a disability; 9,882 orphanages; 11,379 creches; 15,327 marriage counseling; 34,331 social rehabilitation centres and 9,391 other kinds of charitable institutions. To such data about social action activity, there should be added the assistance services carried out in refugee camps and to internally displaced people and the accompaniment of these uprooted persons. This service certainly doesn’t call for discrimination against Christian.

Mr. President,

Allow me also to congratulate the Delegations, like that of Italy, that took the floor to express a defense of religious freedom in general and Christians in particular since these have been targeted victims of human rights violations and to welcome the position of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh on the introduction of anti-blasphemy law in her country. In conclusion, Pope Francis’ words regarding the celebration of the 17th Centennial Anniversary of the Edict of Milan, that opened the way to religious freedom, are an appropriate wish, that "… civil authorities everywhere respect the right to publicly express one’s faith and to accept withoutprejudice the contribution that Christianity continues to offer to the culture and society of our time".

Thank you Mr. President.


Holy See to 66th World Health Assembly
"My delegation welcomes the resolve to prioritise health in the next generation of global development goals"

ROME, May 22, 2013  - Here is the intervention by the Holy See delegation to the 66th World Health Assembly. The meeting is under way in Geneva, Switzerland. The address by Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, the representative of the Holy See, was given today.

* * *

Mr. President,

I have the honour to bring you the greetings and blessing of the Holy Father Pope Francis, who wishes this august assembly fruitful deliberations.

1. It has been duly emphasized that health contributes to the achievement of development and benefits from it. My delegation welcomes the resolve to prioritise health in the next generation of global development goals. The task before us is that of describing health objectives in an appropriate and convincing way. In this regard, the Holy See strongly believes that setting universal coverage as an objective of health and development policy (A66/24), would be a surer way of accommodating the wide range of health concerns, which includes sustaining the gains made so far, as well as attending to the broadened health agenda.

Moreover, while acknowledging the close links between health and development, our delegation wishes to underscore the need for integral development and not mere economic growth. Health and development ought to be integral if they are to respond fully to the needs of every human person. What we hold important is the human person - each person, each group of people, and humanity as a whole.[1] The essential quality of “authentic” development is that it must be “integral” in that it has to promote the good of every person and of the whole person, that is, in every single dimension.[2]. Therefore both health care and development must attend to the spiritual state of the person as well as to the physical, emotional, economic and social factors that influence one’s wellbeing.

2. Secondly, Mr. President, within the framework of strengthening health through the life course, efforts are being made to save the lives of millions of women and children who continue to die every year from conditions that can easily be prevented with existing medical commodities. Thus Resolution EB132.R4, among others, urges member States to improve the quality, supply and use of 13 “life-saving commodities.” The Holy See strongly agrees with the need to achieve further reductions in the loss of life and prevention of illness through increased access to inexpensive interventions that are respectful of the life and dignity of all mothers and children at all stages of life, from conception to natural death. In relation to this, the Holy See delegation wishes to raise serious concerns about the Report of the Secretariat and the Resolution recommended by the Executive Board to promote the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children. While indeed some of the recommendations are truly life-saving, that of "emergency contraception" can hardly be labeled as such since it is well known that, when conception already has occurred, certain substances used in “emergency contraception” produce an abortifacient effect. For my delegation, it is totally unacceptable to refer to a medical product that constitutes a direct attack on the life of the child in utero as a “life-saving commodity” and, much worse, to encourage “increasing use of such substances in all parts of the world."

3. Thirdly Mr. President, given the significant impact of Non-Communicable Diseases on both morbidity and mortality in all parts of the world, the Holy See delegation welcomes the proposed Global Action Plan for the control of non-communicable diseases 2013-2020 (A66/9). Moreover, we were especially pleased that the plan acknowledges the key role of civil society, including faith-based organizations, in mobilizing and engaging families and communities to prevent and treat such illnesses before they cause debilitating conditions or premature death. Our delegation is aware that Catholic Church-inspired organizations and institutions throughout the world already have committed themselves to pursue such actions at global, regional, and local community levels.

In connection with Resolution WHA65.3 on strengthening non-communicable disease policies to promote active ageing, the Holy See wishes to participate in exploring the various aspects of prevention and control of non-communicable diseases in older age. Already thousands of faith-based institutions offer aged care services around the world, and they are growing rapidly as populations age. Our humble contribution to this venture will be an International Conference, to be held in the Vatican this coming November 21-23 on the topic: The Church at the Service of Sick Elderly People: Taking Care of People Suffering from Neurodegenerative Diseases.

4. Finally, Mr. President our delegation wishes to register its support for the Draft action plan for the prevention of visual impairment 2014-2019 (A66/11) and the related resolution EB132.R1 calling for the endorsement of the “universal eye health” plan of action.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski

Head of the Delegation of the Holy See to the 66th World Health Assembly

[1] Paul VI, Populorum progressio, n.14.

[2] Benedict XVI, Caritas in veritate, nn.11, 18.


Holy See to UN on Human Trafficking
"People are never to be used or treated as instruments for unscrupulous profit-mongering"

NEW YORK, May 20, 2013  - Here is the statement by Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, apostolic nuncio and permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, at the UN High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The meeting was May 13-14.

* * *

Mr. President,

Today’s meeting presents the international community with an opportunity not only to assess the progress achieved since the adoption of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons in 2010, but also to renew our commitment to work together and to condemn with one voice the abhorrent and immoral practice of trafficking in human beings.

The Global Plan of Action has provided the United Nations with a resource for working together to combat all forms of human trafficking and for ensuring that confronting human trafficking remains one of the top issues of concern for the international community. However, such political commitments must be backed by concrete actions on the ground, so as to ensure that victims are freed from this repugnant form of contemporary slavery, and are given the necessary assistance to rebuild their lives.

The mobility of people across national boundaries is a human experience affecting all countries and regions of the world. It is a reality which presents opportunities to foster greater understanding between peoples and jointly to improve the social and economic well-being of migrants and their families. For too many,however, the reality of migration is no longer a matter of free choice, but rather has become a necessity. This sense of desperation provides human traffickers the opportunity to prey on migrants and has contributed to making human trafficking one of the fastest growing criminal activities in today’s world.

Trafficking in persons constitutes a shameful crime against human dignity and a grave violation of fundamental human rights. Those who commit such crimes debase themselves and poison human solidarity. People are never to be used or treated as instruments for unscrupulous profit-mongering through being forced into slavery, which always constitutes an affront to the dignity of human nature and to fundamental values shared by humanity.

Effective juridical instruments are crucial to cease this abominable trade in human beings, to prosecute its profiteers, and to assist the rehabilitation and reintegration of its victims. To this end, the creation of the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children by the Global Plan of Action provides a tangible means for ensuring support for those who suffer the dehumanizing impact of being trafficked.

While political, social and legal protections are indispensable to combating the scourge of human trafficking, we must also work to address those societal factors which foster the environment that makes human trafficking possible. One such overriding factor is the increasing commodification of human life. Such commodification can be seen in the women and girls who are trafficked each year for the sole purpose of making money from the sale of their bodies. There is indeed an urgent need here to challenge lifestyles and models of behavior, particularly with regard to the image of women, which have generated what has become a veritable industry of sexual exploitation.

Trafficking in women for the purpose of sexual exploitation accounts for 58 per cent of all cases reported globally and demonstrates how increased demand fuels this market for human slavery and tolerates its immense human costs.

It is a grim reminder that prostitution and consumers of so-called “sexual services” not only contribute to the trafficking of women and girls but also disrespect their human dignity.[1]

Commodification of human beings unfortunately does not lie solely in the realm of sexual exploitation, but can also be seen in unrelenting consumerist tendencies that demand more for less without due regard for the rights of workers. Around the world, forced labor accounts for more than a quarter[2] of victims of trafficking. This is a stark reminder that participating in a globalized economy requires adequate regulations to ensure that the qualitative, subjective value of human work is given precedence over purely quantifiable, objective product. In so doing, we can help foster a deeper and richer ethical understanding of the value and dignity of human labor and fashion economic and social systems that respect human rights.

Mr. President,

Addressing human trafficking remains an elusive goal if the courage to address the dark reality of consumerism feeding the exploitation of vulnerable human beings is lacking. In this regard, it is necessary to recognize that it is extreme poverty whichoften drives those desirous of a better future into the hands of those preying upon the vulnerability of the poor and the defenseless. These individuals, prompted by a genuine desire to provide for themselves and their needy families, too easilybecome unsuspecting victims of those who make false promises of a better future in another country or community. Our efforts to address human trafficking are inherently linked, therefore, to our determination to address poverty eradication and lack of equal economic opportunity.

This link recognizes that economic poverty inherently opens the door to exclusion and exploitation by those whose moral and spiritual poverty no longer allows them to see people in need as brothers and sisters to be respected, protected and cared for, but merely as a means to an end.

Mr. President,

The Catholic Church, through its institutions and agencies around the world, is providing assistance, care and support to thousands of survivors of human trafficking. These institutions and their courageous individuals place themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis to help those who have become victims to this modern plague of human trafficking. Many of these individuals have paid dearly in their endeavours to provide assistance to victims or expose the victimizers. The Holy See regards today’s debate and assessment of the Global Plan of Action as a good opportunity to reinvigorate our efforts to address the evil of human trafficking so that men and women who fall prey to such trafficking will know that we stand in solidarity with them and that we will not cease in our efforts to ensure that today’s victims of human trafficking become tomorrow’s survivors.

Thank you, Mr. President.

[1] UNODC, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2012, p. 11.

[2] Id.


Archbishop Francis Chullikatt's Address to the UN on Poverty Eradication

NEW YORK, April 26, 2013 - Here is the address delivered by Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, to the UN Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.

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Statement of Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt

Apostolic Nuncio,

Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in the Ad Hoc Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals “Interactive exchange of views on “poverty eradication”

New York, 18 April 2013

Mr. Co-Chair,

The centrality of poverty eradication to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is not only a requirement of the Rio +20 Outcome but is essentially a moral imperative if we are to address the many forms of poverty present in the human family and contribute to “the growth of fraternity and peace.”[ This preferential option for the poor in sustainable development should determine the fundamental moral measure of our society.

The eradication of poverty must be understood first in the context of the equality in dignity of each and every human person. Further, poverty eradication should be guided by the principles of natural law which “inspire political and juridical and economic choices and approaches in international law.”

Placing the integral development of the human person at the center of all efforts to eradicate poverty underscores a correct understanding of poverty and of what the best pathways out of poverty are. The development of sustainable development goals, therefore, requires that the centrality of the human person be prioritized, in accordance with its recognition as first principle of sustainable development by the 1992 Rio Conference, so as to inspire meaningful programmes which are responsive to the needs of each person and community. In order to adopt such action-oriented and human-centered goals, people - particularly the poor and those on the margins of society, who are most directly affected and should benefit most - must be given a voice in their planning and implementation.

Poverty constitutes a vicious circle of which exclusion is both its cause and consequence. Poverty results from people and communities being excluded from participating in the economic, social, political and cultural life of the societies in which they live as one human family, as they are unable to develop their capacities and are denied the opportunities necessary to provide for themselves, their families and their communities. Exclusion effectively impoverishes the whole human family, since the potential contributions of the poor to our collective well-being are lost through the goods and services that are left unrealized, political perspectives and values left unharnessed, and the art, stories and songs for the collective human history left uncomposed.

Excluding the poor means denying them from their rightful share in the life of the human family, in its hopes and dreams, its successes and its accomplishments, all of which are rooted in our common humanity, and to which no one country, people or culture can claim exclusive ownership. All people have, on account of their membership in the human family, the birthright to benefit from this common heritage as well as a right and a duty to participate in enriching this tremendous legacy.

Since exclusion is the central cause of poverty, eradicating poverty can only come through inclusion of the poor. Economic, social, political and cultural inclusion means first to break down all barriers to inclusion, all exclusionary privileges that benefit the few at the expense of the many, that generate artificial and unsustainable wealth for some while creating poverty for others. Exclusion promotes the monopolization of the collective human intellectual and natural heritage, unfair trade regimes, chronic economic and political dependence, to name but a few instances.

Inclusion, on the other hand, means inviting the poor to participate in the world’s economic, social, political and cultural systems as full partners, building up their capabilities so that they can take their deserved seat at the table for all, as equals, so that economic exchanges will be mutually beneficial and that politics will involve real partnerships.

This model of inclusion constitutes a truly human-centered bottom-up approach to poverty eradication and will help to ensure that sustainable development goals become a model for fostering partnerships which capitalize on the vast experience and wisdom of those who daily face the harsh realities and challenges of poverty with courage and forbearance.

Thank you, Mr. Co-Chair.


Doctrinal Congregation on Reform of Women Religious Leaders' Group
Pope Francis "reaffirmed the findings of the Assessment and the program of reform for this Conference of Major Superiors"

VATICAN CITY, April 15, 2013  - Here is a statement released today from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, regarding the ongoing plan of reform for the US-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

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Today, the Superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met with the Presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) of the United States of America. Archbishop James Peter Sartain, archbishop of Seattle, Washington, USA, and the Holy See’s Delegate for the Doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR, also participated in the meeting,” informs a communique from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

As this was his first opportunity to meet with the Presidency of the LCWR, the Prefect of the Congregation, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, expressed his gratitude for the great contribution of women Religious to the Church in the United States as seen particularly in the many schools, hospitals, and institutions of support for the poor which have been founded and staffed by Religious over the years.

The Prefect then highlighted the teaching of the Second Vatican Council regarding the important mission of Religious to promote a vision of ecclesial communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church as faithfully taught through the ages under the guidance of the Magisterium. He also emphasized that a Conference of Major Superiors, such as the LCWR, exists in order to promote common efforts among its member Institutes as well as cooperation with the local Conference of Bishops and with individual Bishops. For this reason, such Conferences are constituted by and remain under the direction of the Holy See.

Finally, Archbishop Muller informed the Presidency that he had recently discussed the Doctrinal Assessment with Pope Francis, who reaffirmed the findings of the Assessment and the program of reform for this Conference of Major Superiors.

“It is the sincere desire of the Holy See,” the note concludes, “that this meeting may help to promote the integral witness of women Religious, based on a firm foundation of faith and Christian love, so as to preserve and strengthen it for the enrichment of the Church and society for generations to come.



Vatican Message for Today's World Autism Day
"Love beyond stigma"

VATICAN CITY, April 02, 2013  - Here is a message from the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, marking today's 6th World Autism Awareness Day.

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"Dearest brothers and sisters,

On the occasion of the Sixth World Autism Awareness Day, which this year takes place during the liturgical period of the Easter festivities, the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers intends to express the solicitude of the Church for autistic people and their families, inviting Christian communities and people of good will to express authentic solidarity towards them.
I would like to take as a point of departure for my reflections the approach of Jesus who drew near to, and walked with, the disciples on the way to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35). The look marked by loss, and even more by amazement, that shaped the steps of Cleopas and Simon could be a similar expression to – and equally similarly be found within – that which marks the faces and the hearts of parents who have a son or a daughter with autism.
Autism: this is a word that still generates fear today even though in very many cultures which traditionally excluded handicaps the ‘diversely able’ have begun to be accepted socially, and many of the prejudices that have surrounded people with disabilities and even their parents have begun to be dismantled. To define someone as autistic seems automatically to involve a negative judgement about those who are afflicted by it, and, implicitly, a sentence involving a definitive distancing from society. On the other hand, the person concerned seems to be unable to communicate in a productive way with other people, at times as though shut up in a ‘glass bell’, in his or her impenetrable, but for us wonderful, interior universe.
This is a ‘typical and stereotyped’ image of the autistic child which requires profound revision. Ever since her birth, as a guiding theme, the Church has always expressed her care for this aspect of medicine through practical testimonies at a universal level. Above all else, this is witness to Love beyond stigma, that social stigma that isolates a sick person and makes him or her feel an extraneous body. I am referring to that sense of loneliness that is often narrated within modern society but which becomes even more present in modern health care which is perfect in its ‘technical aspects’ but increasingly deprived of, and not attentive to, that affective dimension which should, instead, be the defining aspect of every therapeutic act or pathway.
Faced with the problems and the difficulties that these children and their parents encounter, the Church with humility proposes the way of service to the suffering brother, accompanying him with compassion and tenderness on his tortuous human and psycho-relational journey, and taking advantage of the help of parishes, of associations, of Church movements and of men and women of good will.
Dear brothers and sisters, setting oneself to listen must necessarily be accompanied by an authentic fraternal solidarity. There should never fail to be global care for the ‘frail’ person, as a person with autism can be: this takes concrete form with that sense of nearness that every worker, each according to his or her role, must know how to transmit to the sick person and his or her family, not making that person feel a number but making real the situation of a shared journey that is made up of deeds, of attitudes and of words – perhaps not dramatic ones but ones that suggest a daily life that is nearer to normality. This means listening to the imperious exhortation that we should not lose sight of the person in his or her totality: no procedure, however perfect it may be, can be ‘effective’ if it is deprived of the ‘salt’ of Love, of that Love that each one of these sick people, if looked at in their eyes, asks of you. Their smile, the serenity of a family that sees its loved one at the centre of the complex organisation that each one of us, by our specific tasks, is called to manage for his or her life, and perceived and achieved sharing: this is the best ‘outcome’ that will enrich us.
In practice, this is a matter of welcoming autistic children in the various sectors of social, educational, catechistic and liturgical activity in a way that corresponds and is proportionate to their capacity for relationships. Such solidarity, for those who have received the gift of Faith, becomes a loving presence and compassionate nearness for those who suffer, following the example and in imitation of Jesus Christ, the Good Samaritan who by his passion, death and resurrection redeemed humanity.
The Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, during the Year of Faith, wishes to share with people who suffer because of autism the hope and certainty that adherence to Love enables us to recognise the Risen Christ every time that he makes himself our neighbour on the journey of life. Let what John Paul II, in whose intercession we trust and the eighth anniversary of whose return to the house of the Father we remember specifically today, be a reference point for us: ‘The quality of life in a community is measured largely by its commitment to assist the weaker and needier members with respect for their dignity as men and women. The world of rights cannot only be the prerogative of the healthy. People with disabilities must also be enabled to participate in social life as far as they can, and helped to fulfil all their physical, psychological and spiritual potential. Only by recognizing the rights of its weakest members can a society claim to be founded on law and justice’ (John Paul II, Message on the Occasion of the International Symposium on the Dignity and Rights of the Mentally Disabled Person, 7-9 January 2004, n. 3).
May what the Holy Father Francis observed during the first days of his papacy – expressing his nearness to the sick and the suffering – be constant light: ‘we must keep the thirst for the absolute alive in the world, not allowing a one-dimensional vision of the human person to prevail, according to which man is reduced to what he produces and to what he consumes: this is one of the most dangerous snares of our time’!
While I hope for the cooperation of everyone in a choral and compassionate answer to the numerous needs that come to us from our brothers and sisters with autism and their families, I entrust the sufferings, the joys and the hopes of these people to the mediation of Mary, Mother of Christ and ‘Health of the Sick’ who, at the foot of the Cross, taught us to pause beside all the crosses of contemporary Man (cf. Salvifici Doloris, n. 31).
To people with autism, to their families and to all those who are involved in their service, while confirming my nearness and prayer, I send my personal and affectionate best wishes for a serene and joyous Easter with the Risen Lord.
The Vatican, 2 April 2013




Talks for the Holy See (March 2006 to November 2009)

Note on the Catholic Church's Freedom of Institutional Autonomy
"Christians Recognize the Distinction between Reason and Religion"

VATICAN CITY, January 16, 2013 - Here is the text of the Note given by the Permanent Representation of the Holy See to the Council of Europe regarding the Catholic Church's freedom and institutional autonomy.

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Permanent Representation of the Holy See to the Council of Europe

Note on the Catholic Church’s freedom and institutional autonomy,

on the occasion of the examination

by the European Court of Human Rights

of the Sindacatul "Pastorul cel Bun" versus Romania (No. 2330/09)

and Fernandez Martinez versus Spain (No. 56030/07) cases

The teaching of the Catholic Church regarding the aspects of religious freedom touched on by the two above-mentioned cases may be presented synthetically as based on the following four principles: 1) the distinction between the Church and the political community; 2) freedom in relation to the State; 3) freedom within the Church; 3) respect for just public order.

1. The distinction between the Church and the political community

The Church recognizes the distinction between the Church and the political community, each of which has distinct ends; the Church is in no way confused with the political community and is not bound to any political system. The political community must see to the common good and ensure that citizens can lead a "calm and peaceful life" in this world. The Church recognizes that it is in the political community that the most complete realization of the common good is to be found (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1910); this is to be understood as "the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily" (ibid., n. 1906). It is the State’s task to defend it and ensure the cohesion, unity and organization of society in order that the common good may be realized with the contribution of all citizens and that the material, cultural, moral and spiritual goods necessary for a truly human existence may be made accessible to everyone. The Church, for her part, was founded in order to lead the faithful to their eternal end by means of her teaching, sacraments, prayer and laws.

This distinction is based on the words of the Lord Jesus (Christ): "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s" (Mt 22:21). In their own areas, the political community and the Church are independent of each other and autonomous. When it is a question of areas which have both temporal and spiritual ends, such as marriage or the education of children, the Church is of the view that the civil power should exercise its authority while making sure not to damage the spiritual good of the faithful. The Church and the political community, however, cannot ignore one another; from different points of view they are at the service of the same people. They exercise this service all the more effectively for the good of all the more they strive for healthy mutual cooperation, as the Second Vatican Council expressed it (cf.Gaudium et spes, n. 76).

The distinction between the Church and the political community is ensured by respecting their reciprocal autonomy, which conditions their mutual freedom. The limits of this freedom are, for the State, to refrain from adopting measures which could do harm to the eternal salvation of the faithful, and, for the Church, to respect the public order of the State.

2. Freedom with respect to the State

The Church claims no privilege but asks that her freedom to carry out her mission in a pluralist society be fully respected and protected. The Church received this mission and this freedom from Jesus Christ, not from the State. The civil power should thus respect and protect the freedom and autonomy of the Church and in no way prevent her from fully carrying out her mission, which consists in leading the faithful, by her teaching, sacraments, prayers and laws, to their eternal end.

The Church’s freedom should be recognized by the civil power with regard to all that concerns her mission, whether it is a matter of the institutional organization of the Church (choice and formation of her co-workers and of the clergy, choice of bishops, internal communication between the Holy See, the bishops and faithful, the founding and governing of institutes of religious life, the publication and distribution of written texts, the possession and administration of temporal goods …), or the fulfilment of her mission towards the faithful (especially by the exercise of her Magisterium, the celebration of public worship, the administration of the sacraments and pastoral care).

The Catholic religion exists in and through the Church, which is the mystical body of Christ. When considering the Church’s freedom, primary attention should therefore be given to her collective dimension: the Church is autonomous in her institutional functioning, juridical order and internal administration. With due respect for the imperatives of a just public order, this autonomy should be respected by the civil authorities; this is a condition of religious freedom and the distinction between Church and State. The civil authorities cannot, without committing an abuse of power, interfere in the purely religious domain, for example, by seeking to change the bishop’s decision regarding appointment to a function.

3. Freedom within the Church

The Church is not unaware that certain religions and ideologies can oppress the freedom of their adherents; however, for her part, the Church recognizes the fundamental value of human freedom. The Church sees in every human person a creature endowed with intelligence and free will. The Church sees herself as a space for freedom and prescribes norms intended to guarantee that this freedom is respected. Thus, all religious acts, for validity, require the freedom of the one carrying them out, that is, the engagement of their will. Taken together and apart from their individual significance, these freely accomplished acts aim at giving access to the "freedom of the children of God". Mutual relations within the Church (such as marriage and religious vows made before God) are governed by this freedom.

This freedom has a relation of dependence on the truth ("the truth will make you free", Jn 8:32): consequently it cannot be invoked to justify an attack on the truth. Thus, a member of the lay faithful or a religious cannot, with regard to the Church, invoke freedom to contest the faith (for example, by adopting public positions against the Magisterium) or to damage the Church (for example, by creating a civil trade union of priests against the will of the Church). It is true that every person is free to contest the Magisterium or the prescriptions and norms of the Church. In case of disagreement, everyone may exercise the recourses provided by canon law and even break off his relations with the Church. Since relations within the Church are, however, essentially spiritual in nature, it is not the State’s role to enter into this area to settle disputes.

4. Respect for just public order

The Church does not ask that religious communities be "lawless" areas, where the laws of the State would cease to apply. The Church recognizes the legitimate competence of civil authorities and jurisdictions to assure the maintenance of public order. This public order should conform to justice. Thus, the State should ensure that religious communities respect morality and just public order. In particular, it should see to it that persons are not subject to inhuman or degrading treatment, that their physical and moral integrity is respected, including the possibility of freely leaving their religious community. This is where the autonomy of the different religious communities is limited, allowing both individual and collective and institutional religious freedom to be guaranteed, while respecting the common good and the cohesion of pluralist societies. Apart from these cases, civil authorities should respect the autonomy of religious communities, by virtue of which these should be free to function and organize themselves according to their own rules.

In this regard, it should be borne in mind that the Catholic faith completely respects reason. Christians recognize the distinction between reason and religion, between the natural and supernatural orders, and believe that "grace does not destroy nature", that is to say, that faith and the other gifts of God never render human nature and the use of human reason useless, not ignore them, but rather promote and encourage them. Christianity, unlike other religions, does not involve formal religious prescriptions (regarding food, vesture, mutilation, etc.) which, were the case to arise, could offend against natural morality and enter into conflict with the law of a religiously neutral State. In any case, Christ taught us to go beyond such purely formal religious prescriptions and replaced them by the living law of charity, a law which, in the natural order, recognizes that conscience has the task of distinguishing between good and evil. Thus, the Catholic Church could not impose any prescription contrary to the just requirements of public order.


Holy See Address at the 21st Session of the UN Human Rights Council

The People of Syria and the Middle East Deserve Support and Solidarity In Their Moment of Need

GENEVA, Switzerland, SEPT. 17, 2012 ( Here is the text of the address given by Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva, at the 21st Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

* * *

Statement by His Excellency Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi

Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva at the 21st Session of the Human Rights Council – Item 4 –

Interactive Dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry

on the Syrian Arab Republic

Geneva, 17 September 2012

Madam President,

The Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic and other sources of information document all too well the results of months of violence in that country: thousands, some estimate 30,000, of victims who have lost their lives and many others who have been wounded; city neighbourhoods destroyed; more than a quarter of a million made refugees; 1.2 million internally displaced people; classes cancelled indefinitely for tens of thousands of children. Above all, social trust and civil conviviality have been broken. This violent conflict shows the futility of war as a means to resolve disagreements. It is appropriate that this Council should adopt the perspective of the victims in its resolve to promote human rights and to uphold humanitarian law. Respect for the fundamental rights of the victims of this conflict is, in fact, the road that can lead to healing human relations and to peace, an indispensable prerequisite for negotiations and an effective response to the expectations of the people for a democratic new beginning.

The Holy See has been following the worsening of the conflict in Syria with great attention and deep concern given the risk of destabilization in the entire region and the total disregard of civilian population; has reiterated its rejection of violence from whatever source it may come; and regrets the loss of so many human lives and family tragedies. The voice of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, a pilgrim of peace in the area, has condemned without any ambiguity the use of violence: "Even though it seems hard to find solutions to the various problems that affect the region," he said, "we cannot resign ourselves to violence and to the aggravation of tensions. The commitment to dialogue and to reconciliation must be a priority for all the parties concerned and must be supported by the international community." A stable peace in the Middle East is an important benefit for the whole world. With God’s gift of peace, local people can use their talents for the development and progress of their countries, enjoy their right to a decent life there, and avoid the misery and suffering of forced uprooting and exile.

Solidarity with the people of Syria and, by extension, to the whole of the Middle East, implies that the international community should put aside selfish interests, support the political process for a cessation of violence and for an orderly and inclusive participation of all groups in the management of the country as citizens of equal dignity and responsibility. An additional requirement appears urgent to make solidarity effective and genuine: humanitarian assistance to all displaced people and other victims of bombardments and indiscriminate destruction, especially to children. Then, to the importation of arms, the firm and common will for peace and the importation of ideas for reconciliation should be substituted. Furthermore, journalists should report on this situation with fairness and complete information so that public opinion may more easily grasp the futility of violence and how in the long run it doesn’t benefit anyone. Media, too, can help build a culture of peace and point at the benefits of reconciliation.

The wave of protests, peaceful on the part of most of the participants, that have characterized what has been called the Arab Spring, stemmed from the deep desire, especially of younger people, for greater freedom, better employment, a real participation in public life. To frustrate these aspirations through the manipulation of power and forms of control will have a lasting damage and miss a historical opportunity for progress.

Madam President,

The people of Syria and the Middle East deserve support and solidarity in their moment of need. The promotion of all human rights is an effective and indispensable strategy for the success of their struggle for peace and social conviviality.

Thank you, Madame President.


Vatican Message for End of Ramadan
"Educating young Christians and Muslims for justice and peace"

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 3, 2012 - Here is a Vatican translation of the message from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue for the end of Ramadan.

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Dear Muslim friends,

1. The celebration of ‘Id al-Fitr,which concludes the month of Ramadan, accords us at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue the joy of presenting to you warm greetings.
We rejoice with you for this privileged time which gives you the opportunity to deepen obedience to God, by fasting and other pious practices, a value equally dear to us.
This is why, this year, it seemed opportune to us to focus our common reflection on the education of young Christians and Muslims for justice and peace, that are inseparable from truth and freedom.

2. If the task of education is entrusted to the whole of society, as you know, it is first and foremost, and in a particular way, the work of parents and, with them, of families, schools and universities, not forgetting about those responsible for religious, cultural, social, and economic life, and the world of communication.
It is an enterprise which is both beautiful and difficult: to help children and young people to discover and to develop the resources with which the Creator has endowed them with and to build responsible human relationships. Referring to the task of educators, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI recently affirmed: "For this reason, today more than ever we need authentic witnesses, and not simply people who parcel out rules and facts… A witness is someone who first lives the life that he proposes to others." ("Message for World Day of Peace" 2012) Besides, let us also remember that the young themselves are responsible as well for their own education and fortheir formation for justice and peace.

3. Justice is determined first of allby the identity of the human person, considered in his or her entirety; it cannot be reduced to its commutative and distributive dimension. We must not forget that the common good cannot be achieved without solidarity and fraternal love! For believers, genuine justice, lived in the friendship with God, deepens all other relationships: with oneself, with others and with the whole of creation. Furthermore, they profess that justice has its origin in the fact that all men are created by God and are called to become one, single family. Such a vision of things, with full respect for reason and openness to transcendence, urges all men and women of good will, inviting them to harmonize rights and duties.

4. In the tormented world of ours, educating the young for peace becomes increasingly urgent. To engage ourselves in an adequate manner, the true nature of peace must be understood: that it is not limited to the mere absence of war, or to a balance between opposing forces, but is at one and the same time a gift from God and a human endeavour to be pursued without ceasing. It isa fruit of justice and an effect of charity. It is important that believers are always active in the communities they belong to: by practising compassion, solidarity, collaboration and fraternity, they can effectively contribute towards addressing the great challenges of today: harmonious growth, integral development, prevention and resolution of conflicts, to name just a few.

5. To conclude, we wish to encourage young Muslim and Christian readers of this Message to cultivate truth and freedom, in order to be genuine heralds of justice and peace and builders of a culture which respects the dignity and the rights of every citizen. We invite them to have patience and tenacity necessary for realizing these ideals, never resorting to doubtful compromises, deceptive short-cuts or to means which show little respect for the human person. Only men and women sincerely convinced of these exigencies will be able to build societies where justice and peace will become realities.
May God fill with serenity and hope, the hearts, families and communities of those who nurture the desire of being ‘instruments of peace’!
Happy Feast to you all!

From the Vatican, 3 August 2012

Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran

Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata


Papal Letter to Knights of Columbus
"concerted efforts are being made to redefine and restrict the exercise of the right to religious freedom"

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 3, 2012 - Here is the July 19 letter
sent by Benedict XVI's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus. The letter is on the occasion of the Knights' 130th Supreme Convention, which will be held next week, and deals with the matter of religious freedom.

* * *

Dear Mr. Anderson,

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was pleased to learn that from 7 to 9 August 2012 the 130th Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus will be held in Anaheim, California. He has asked me to convey his warm greetings to all in attendance, together with the assurance of his closeness in prayer.

The theme of this year's Supreme Convention - Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land - evokes not only the great biblical ideals of freedom and justice which shaped the founding of the United States of America, but also the responsibility of each new generation to preserve, defend and advance those great ideals in its own day. At a time when concerted efforts are being made to redefine and restrict the exercise of the right to religious freedom, the Knights of Columbus have worked tirelessly to help the Catholic community recognize and respond to the unprecedented gravity of these new threats to the Church's liberty and public moral witness. By defending the right of all religious believers, as individual citizens and in their institutions, to work responsibly in shaping a democratic society inspired by their deepest beliefs, values and aspirations, your Order has proudly lived up to the high religious and patriotic principles which inspired its founding.

The challenges of the present moment are in fact yet another reminder of the decisive importance of the Catholic laity for the advancement of the Church's mission in today's rapidly changing social context. The Knights of Columbus, founded as a fraternal society committed to mutual assistance and fidelity to the Church, was a pioneer in the development of the modern lay apostolate. His Holiness is confident that the Supreme Convention will carry on this distinguished legacy by providing sound inspiration, guidance and direction to a new generation of faithful and dedicated Catholic laymen. As he stated to the Bishops of the United States earlier this year, the demands of the new evangelization and the defense of the Church's freedom in our day call for "an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-a-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church's participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society" (Ad Limina Address, 19 January 2012).

Given this urgent need, the Holy Father encourages the Supreme Council, together with each of the local Councils, to reinforce the praiseworthy programs of continuing catechetical and spiritual formation which have long been a hallmark of your Order. Each Knight, in fidelity to his baptismal promises, is pledged to bear daily witness, however quiet and unassuming, to his faith in Christ, his love of the Church and his commitment to the spread of God's Kingdom in this world. The forthcoming inauguration of the Year of Faith, which commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, is meant to deepen this sense of ecclesial responsibility and mission in the entire People of God. His Holiness prays that the celebration of this Year of spiritual and apostolic renewal will inspire in the Knights an ever firmer resolve to profess their baptismal faith in its fulness, celebrate it more intensely in the liturgy, and make it manifest through the witness of their lives (cf. Porta Fidei, 9).

In a particular way, His Holiness wishes me to convey his profound personal gratitude for the spiritual bouquet of prayers and sacrifices which the Knights and their families have offered for his intentions throughout this year which marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of his episcopal ordination. He is pleased to see in this act of spiritual solidarity not only an outstanding testimony of love for the Successor of Saint Peter, who is "the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of the Church's unity in faith and her communion" (cf. Lumen Gentium, 18), but also a sign of especial fidelity, loyalty and support during these difficult times.

With these sentiments, the Holy Father commends the deliberations of the Supreme Convention to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church. To all the Knights and their families he cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.

Adding my own prayerful good wishes for the work of the Supreme Convention, I remain

Yours sincerely,


XV World Seminar for Catholic Civil Aviation Chaplains and Chaplaincy Members
"The New Evangelization means that chaplains move from maintenance to mission"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2012 - The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Travelers today released the final document of the 15th World Seminar for Catholic Civil Aviation Chaplains and Chaplaincy Members. The seminar was held mid-June in Rome and concentrated on the theme of “New Evangelization in the Field of Civil Aviation”.

Benedict XVI greeted the participants at the start of the seminar and highlighted the importance of their ministry where they encounter thousands of people from different walks of life who are in need of the Gospel.

“Airport communities also reflect the crisis of faith that affects many people, with the result that the content of Christian doctrine and the values that it teaches are no longer regarded as points of reference, even in countries with a long tradition of ecclesial life,” he said.

The seminar was comprised of 79 Catholic chaplains and chaplaincy members from 31 international airports in Europe and the Americas.

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27 - Here is the full text of the Final Document of the XV World Seminar for Catholic Civil Aviation Chaplains and Chaplaincy Members under the theme of “New Evangelization in the Field of Civil Aviation”.

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We, seventy-nine Catholic chaplains and chaplaincy members who serve in civil aviation across the world with joy and hope, have come together from thirty-one international airports of fourteen countries in Europe and the Americas, to respond to the call of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People to examine how we could effectively carry out the New Evangelization in the world of civil aviation. In our assembly, we counted on the competent help of experts and institutional representatives who enlightened us regarding the context in which the New Evangelization needs to be carried out in our contemporary world and the importance of considering different forms of dialogue as part of the evangelizing process everywhere, including the sphere of human mobility in general and our civil aviation milieu in particular.

Stepping back from the day-to-day activities in which we are immersed to reflect on our ministry and to be in dialogue and communion with others who share our mission has been a great grace. We remember the importance of periodically “coming away,” as the Gospel tells us, to pray and reflect on our mission and ministry.

Inspired by the words that the Holy Father addressed to us, we have become more aware that we are “called to embody in the world’s airports the Church’s mission of bringing God to man and lead man to the encounter with God.” This has re-affirmed our sense of purpose and our understanding of the importance of this mission and ministry in the life of the Church.

We leave our gathering of Catholic chaplains who serve in civil aviation across the world with joy and hope. We leave with a sense of challenge to meet the many needs and possibilities that we have seen emerge in the world of civil aviation. We anticipate the results of the upcoming Synod of Bishops as a further clarification of our task in bringing the New Evangelization to a world in need.

Our conclusions represent some of the major lines of development that emerged in the course of the seminar.


Airport chaplaincy is an important ministry and pastoral outreach of the Church that contributes to her vital presence not only in airports but in society as well. It needs recognition and support as such by those responsible for the structure and organization of the Church’s mission. The particular circumstances of airports that include large populations of both stable and transient persons of various cultural backgrounds indicate the great potential of this ministry for the New Evangelization.

Airport chaplains need to continue to serve the religious and spiritual needs of believing people, especially through the celebration of the sacraments for Catholic people. At the same time, the New Evangelization invites chaplains to serve the revitalization of the faith of those who are already faithful. In the Year of Faith this can mean a more extensive catechesis and deeper exploration of the ways of prayer and spiritual counseling.

The New Evangelization means that chaplains move from maintenance to mission, from simply being responsive to requests to actively reaching out to those who are alienated from faith and Church. Thus, the New Evangelization means an intensification of the apostolic outreach of airport ministry. For this outreach to take place and to be effective, chaplains must engage their imaginations and creativity with others in the Church, because the New Evangelization is, indeed, new.

Airport chaplains who wish to promote the New Evangelization must be conscious of the fluid and multidimensional cultural context of their efforts. Culture encompasses the new terrain of electronic communications, a globalized economy, a re-alignment of religious sensibilities that span the forces of secularization to the surge of various forms of fundamentalism, and people who are ever more mobile and mixed in their backgrounds. The airport itself is a great point of cultural intersection and, therefore, becomes an extraordinary “Areopagus” in the context of the New Evangelization.

A critical moment for airport chaplains and others engaged in the New Evangelization is the process of pre-evangelization. The process of pre-evangelization includes helping men and women of our time to identify the deepest questions of their lives. Only if they are clear on the questions will they be open and available to the answer which is found in Jesus Christ, the Word of Life. Often these deep human questions are connected to a sense of the fragility of human life as well as the deepest aspirations of the human heart for knowledge and love. Chaplains can effectively pre-evangelize by using the airport experiences of fragility and vulnerability as well as high human aspirations to draw their listeners into a clearer possession of the decisive life questions that can only be answered by faith in Jesus Christ.

If airport chaplains are to carry on the New Evangelization, they themselves must be personally engaged. Their own formation as believers is, of course, essential, since to be effective evangelizers they need first to be living witnesses of Christ’s Gospel. Even before that, the human formation of airport chaplains must be a central concern. Their human personalities enable them to receive people, to be present to them, to listen to them attentively, and to engage in a dialogue which can lead them to faith or deeper faith. Their humanity, in the words of Blessed John Paul II, must become a bridge and not an obstacle in the communication of Jesus Christ to men and women today.

Because airports are grand intersections of all humanity, the ecumenical and inter-faith dimensions of airport ministry are extraordinarily important. Airport chaplains need to be sensitive to the different religious traditions. In particular, chaplains need an ecumenical perspective that would link them with other Christians. This ecumenical connection serves to give common witness to Jesus Christ and, in its own way, fosters the New Evangelization.

We have therefore come up with some suggestions for concrete actions to be taken in the context of the new evangelization.


The method of evangelization in airport chaplaincies cannot be the same as that of a parish. In airports, chaplains and their collaborators meet people who would otherwise not encounter people of faith, nor enter into any kind of religious or spiritual dialogue. Therefore, we suggest the use of video presentations in the chaplaincies on various aspects of the Catholic faith, including further explanation of the catechism. A good occasion would be before the celebration of Holy Mass. This could also be done by making similar CDs or books available in the chapel, or by distributing them, for instance, as Christmas gifts to airport workers.

We recommend that all those who carry out their mission in airports be readily identifiable, for example through the use of a chaplaincy badge. In particular, it is suggested, where possible and opportune, that priests, deacons and religious men and women connected to airport chaplaincies wear their clerical garb or religious habit to make them a visible presence of the Church in a neutral space.

Airport chaplains and their collaborators need to maintain good relations with the airport authorities, entrepreneurs and labor unions to be able to better attend to and serve the people entrusted to their care – airport and airline workers and users, as well as aircraft passengers – by protecting their dignity and responding to their spiritual and social needs.

This would also make it possible for airport chaplaincies to have the opportunity to use technological instruments present in airports for their pastoral service in the context of the new evangelization.

Airport chaplains and chaplaincy members have an important evangelization mission to carry out in moments of emergencies and critical incidents. Therefore it is necessary that they be competent not only in pastoral terms but also on how to be concrete responders to the demands of such moments.

The new evangelization in airports would greatly benefit from the full-time availability of airport chaplains and chaplaincy members. Where possible, Ordinaries of Dioceses where airports are located are encouraged to appoint a full-time chaplain. The participation of volunteers who support the chaplains in the ministry is also encouraged.

The publication of a new “Prayer Book for Travelers” could be a useful instrument of new evangelization.

A study could be made regarding the possibility of establishing an International Association of lay volunteers who would be of assistance to airport chaplains and may guarantee constant prayer in the chapel, for example, through permanent Eucharistic adoration.


We therefore consider it our task to implement these conclusions and recommendations, and communicate them to our fellow chaplains and chaplaincy members as well as to our Bishops, so that together we may carry them out more effectively not only to the benefit of the people we serve, but so that Christ may be more visible in the civil aviation milieu and become more and more the center of its life and activities.

We lay the work that we have done at the feet of Our Lady of Loreto, our patroness, so that she may be our constant inspiration and guide in this challenging and fulfilling mission.


Archbishop Tomasi's Address at the 20th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
"If Justice is Violated, Wealth and Debt Become Instruments of Exploitation"

GENEVA, Switzerland, JUNE 25, 2012 - Here is the text of the address given by Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva, at the 20th Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

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Madam President,

1. The Holy See strongly supports the Report’s assertion that human rights as well as the rules of justice and ethics apply to all economic and social relations, including foreign debt obligations. Human rights criteria for evaluating foreign debt can be an important tool for moving development from the narrow "economic" or material understanding to one based on integral human development, one that promotes "the development of each man and of the whole man"1. This recognizes the "right to development"2 grounded in the humanity of each and every person, from conception to natural death, regardless of their age, nationality, race, religion, ethnicity, sex and disability status. At the same time, we acknowledge the role that corruption has played and continues to play in aggravating the problem of debt obligations in many less developed countries.

2. A people-centered ethics is one that is grounded in a view of the human person which emphasizes human dignity, the basis of human rights, for human rights are those rights that spring from what it means to be human. All just economic activity respects this human dignity. Wealth and debt must serve the common good. If justice is violated, wealth and debt become instruments of exploitation, especially of the poor and marginalized. But unjust, and especially exploitative, economic transactions are invalid and must be made just, even if each party agreed to the legal terms of the exchange, as it may happen when the rich lend to the poor. For many years now all have come to recognize that "the heavy burden of external debt (…) compromises the economies of whole peoples and hinders their social and political progress."3

3. Foreign debt is just a symptom of the lack of justice in the flow of capital in the world4. "The debt question is part of a vaster problem: that of the persistence of poverty, sometimes even extreme, and the emergence of new inequalities which are accompanying the globalization process. If the aim is globalization without marginalization, we can no longer tolerate a world in which there live side by side the immensely rich and the miserably poor, the have-nots deprived even of essentials and people who thoughtlessly waste what others so desperately need. Such contrasts are an affront to the dignity of the human person."
Thus, in evaluating foreign loans consideration should be given to: (1) Reducing unethical loan practices and (2) Better aligning foreign loans with authentic human development. If both the loan process and the loan use have to respect human rights there is a much better chance that the money from the loan will promote development and the necessary environment for the enjoyment of human rights. Many of the barriers to development arise because the human costs and benefits of economic activities are not given adequate, or any, weight in the decision making process. "Human costs always include economic costs, and economic dysfunctions always involve human costs"5 and the consequent violation of human rights.

4. While institutionalizing the inclusion of human rights into the cost and benefit calculations will present challenges, we would like to remind the Council that every past improvement in human rights and expansion of participation and inclusion faced the same challenge. In a few words, financial relationships that increase inequality and do not promote income convergence are "contrary to justice".6

5. Along with the Report, and most objective observers, the Holy See recognizes that loans to developing countries have at times promoted inequality and have become barriers to development rather than serving as tools to promote development. Often this is due to changes in outside economic circumstances which can turn a good and just loan arrangement into a barrier to development and a vehicle for exploitation. One such change in outside circumstances that the Report addresses and responds to relates to fluctuations in currency values.

6. The Holy See supports the new principle for transparency in foreign loans at all levels and by all actors (borrowers, lenders and international agencies) in order to lessen the chance of the grave mistakes that were made in the past, when corruption led to secret loans for dubious purposes, taken out by leaders not interested in the common good with the poor in developing countries bearing the burden. We support this reform and encourage efforts to correct the injustices of past loans with more aggressive debt forgiveness.

The Holy See hopes that "the process of debt cancellation and reduction for the poorest countries will be continued and accelerated. At the same time, these processes must not be made conditional upon structural adjustments that are detrimental to the most vulnerable populations."7 The Holy See supports the Human Rights Council’s call to end conditionality in debt forgiveness and renegotiation, and supports its call to respect the sovereignty and right of each country to independently plan its own development strategies and not be forced by outside agencies or governments to pursue policies which are more in the interest of the lending nations than the common good of the developing nations. Furthermore, programs for debt cancellation or relief should not result in insurmountable obstacles to future responsible borrowing that may be critically necessary for the long-term development and prosperity of the country at risk.

7. Greater transparency will also help in preventing the building up of unsustainable levels of debt by developing nations. In both developing and developed countries the lack of transparency in the accumulating of debt has added to economic uncertainty in the world financial system. The Guiding Principles on Foreign Debt and Human Rights move in the direction of a concrete solution. Sovereign debt cannot be viewed as an exclusively economic problem. It affects future generations a well as the social conditions that allow the enjoyment of human rights of vast numbers of people entitled to the solidarity of the whole human family.

Thank you, Madam President.

1 Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, n.14
2 General Assembly resolution 41/128 of 4 December 1986.
3 Pope John Paul II noted in his World Peace Day Message of 1998 WPD 1998, n.4.
4 Idem
5 Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, n. 32.
6 Cfr Aquinas ST, II, II, QQ78.
7 From the Address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. Monday, 8 January 2007.


Holy See Intervention at Rio+20
"The right to water, the right to food, the right to health and the right to education are intrinsically linked to the right to life and to the right to development"

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, JUNE 22, 2012 Here is the text of the intervention given today by the head of the Holy See Delegation at the Rio+20 conference, Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer. Cardinal Scherer is the special envoy of Benedict XVI.

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Madame President,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

My delegation warmly thanks the Government of Brazil for hosting this important Conference on sustainable development, expresses gratitude to the people of Brazil for their warm hospitality, and is pleased to participate in this timely gathering of representatives of the international community meeting at this significant juncture in human history.

Now is the opportune time to address the many threats to the human family and its earthly home posed by the persisting injustice of hunger, poverty and underdevelopment which continue to plague our societies. It is the firm hope of the Holy See that this opportunity may provide the occasion at last to set aside the hermeneutic of suspicion underpinning partisan self-interest and protectionism in favour of a true solidarity between us, especially with the poor. This is the time to commit ourselves to a more just distribution of the abundant goods of this world and to the pursuit of a more integral development which corresponds to the dignity of every human being.

For the Holy See, this requires above all maintaining the proper relation of the means to its end. Standing at the centre of the created world is the human person - and, therefore, also at the centre of sustainable development, as affirmed by the First Rio Principle. Each individual human life, from conception until natural death, is of equal value and dignity.

Any new model of development, such as the "green economy," must be anchored in and permeated by those principles which are the basis for the effective promotion of human dignity, namely: responsibility, even when changes must be made to patterns of production and consumption; promoting and sharing in the common good; access to primary goods including such essential and fundamental goods as nutrition, health, education, security and peace; solidarity of a universal scope, capable of recognising the unity of the human family; protection of creation linked to inter-generational equity; the universal destination of goods and the fruits of human enterprise; and the accompanying principle of subsidiarity, which permits public authorities at all levels to operate in an efficacious manner for the uplifting of each and every person and community. This is all the more marked in international relations where application of these principles between and within states favours an appropriate transfer of technology, the promotion of a global commercial system that is inclusive and fair, as well as respect for obligations in aid-for-development and the determination of new and innovative financial instruments which place human dignity, the common good, and the safeguarding of the environment at the centre of economic activity. The unique and fundamental role of the family - which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares the fundamental group-unit of society - deserves special mention here because education and development begins in the family, where all these principles are transmitted to and assimilated by future generations so that their members assume their proper responsibility in society.

The right to water, the right to food, the right to health and the right to education are intrinsically linked to the right to life and to the right to development. Therefore, we must be bold in affirming them, and equally resolved to safeguard the evident reality that these rights are at the service of the human person. The risk of obscuring this correct relationship seems particularly to be the case in the right to health, where the promotion of a conception of health can be observed that profoundly menaces the dignity of the human person. Imposing death upon the most vulnerable human lives - namely, those in the safest sanctuary of their mothers' wombs - cannot conceivably be brought under the nomenclature of health-care or simply health. This performs no true service to authentic human development or its true appreciation; indeed it constitutes the greatest violation of human dignity and unjustifiable disservice because development, at all stages of life, is at the service of human life.

Madame President,

The ongoing economic and financial crisis has risked undermining the great progress made in recent decades in technological and scientific development. Engaging such problems honestly and courageously will challenge the international community to a renewed and deepened reflection on the meaning of the economy and its purposes, as well as a renewal of models of development which will not allow the 'why' of development to be overwhelmed by the urgent 'how' of technological solutions. This examination must include not merely the economic or ecological state of health of the planet, but must also require taking stock of the moral and cultural crisis, the symptoms of which are now evident in all parts of the world. This is undoubtedly a complex challenge to confront, but the Holy See stresses the importance of moving from a merely technological model of development to an integrally human model which takes as its point of departure the dignity and worth of each and every person. Each individual member of society is called to adopt a vocational attitude which freely assumes responsibility, in genuine solidarity with one another and all of creation.

Madame President,

In conclusion, Madame President, it is people who are charged with stewardship over nature; but as with everything human, this stewardship necessarily possesses an ethical dimension. In the discharge of this right and duty, a just solidarity with our fellow human beings is always implicit, including those yet to be born. This requires of us a duty towards future generations who will inherit the consequences of our decisions. In this regard, this Conference provides an opportunity for governments to come together to help chart a course for advancing development for all people especially those who are most in need.

Once again, Madame President, we express our gratitude for the leadership of Brazil in hosting this Conference, and sincerely hope that this will help promote the future that together we all need.

Thank you.


Holy See on Sustainable Development
"Human beings, in fact, come first. We need to be reminded of this"

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, JUNE 14, 2012 - Here is the text of a position paper from the permanent observer mission of the Holy See to the United Nations for the UN conference on sustainable development that is under way in Rio de Janeiro through Friday.

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The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, represents an important step in a process which has contributed significantly to a better understanding of the concept of sustainable development and the interplay of the three acknowledged pillars of this concept: economic growth, environmental protection and the promotion of social welfare. The process, initiated at Stockholm in 1972, had two of its high points at Rio de Janeiro in 1992, with the so-called “Earth Summit”, and at Johannesburg in 2002.

As part of this process, a unanimous consensus has emerged that protecting the environment means improving peoples’ lives and, vice versa, that environmental degradation and underdevelopment are closely interdependent issues needing to be approached together, responsibly and in a spirit of solidarity.

At all these international occasions the Holy See has made its presence felt less by proposing specific technical solutions to the various issues under discussion as part of the effort to attain a correct process of sustainable development, than by its insistence that issues affecting the human dignity of individuals and peoples cannot be reduced to “technical” problems: the process of development cannot be left to purely technical solutions, for in this way it would lack ethical direction. The search for solutions to these issues cannot be separated from our understanding of human beings.

Human beings, in fact, come first. We need to be reminded of this. At the centre of sustainable development is the human person. The human person, to whom the good stewardship of nature is entrusted, cannot be dominated by technology and become its object. A realization of this fact must lead States to reflect together on the short and medium term future of our planet, recognizing their responsibility for the life of each person and for the technologies which can help to improve its quality. Adopting and promoting in every situation a way of life which respects the dignity of each human being, and supporting research and the utilization of energy sources and technologies capable of safeguarding the patrimony of creation without proving dangerous for human beings: these need to be political and economic priorities. In this sense, our approach to nature clearly needs to be reviewed, for nature is the setting in which human beings are born and interact: it is their “home”.

A changed mentality in this area and the duties which it would entail ought to make it possible quickly to discover an art of living together, one which respects that covenant between human beings and nature without which the human family risks dying out. This calls for serious reflection and the proposal of clear and sustainable solutions: a reflection which must not be muddied by blind partisan political, economic or ideological interests which shortsightedly put particular interests above solidarity. While it is true that technology has brought about more rapid globalization, the primacy of the human being over technology must be reaffirmed, for without this we risk existential confusion and the loss of life’s meaning. The fact that technology outstrips all else frequently means that reflection on why we do things systematically yields to the pressure of how we do things, leaving no time for patient discernment. It is urgent, then, to find a way of combining technical know-how with a solid ethical approach based on the dignity of the human person. (1)

Along these lines, it must be emphasized that the dignity of the human person is closely linked to the right to development, the right to a healthy environment and the right to peace. These three rights shed light on how individuals, society and the environment are interrelated. This in turn results in a heightened sense of responsibility on the part of every human being for himself, for others, for creation and, ultimately, before God. Such responsibility calls for a careful analysis of the impact and consequences of our actions, with particular concern for the poor and for future generations.


It is therefore essential to base the reflection of Rio+20 on the first principle of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, adopted at the Rio de Janeiro Conference of June 1992, which acknowledges the centrality of the human being and declares that “human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature”.

To put the welfare of human beings at the centre of concern for sustainable development is actually the surest way to attain such development and to help protect creation; as noted above, this results in a heightened sense of responsibility on the part of individuals for one another, for natural resources and for their wise use.

Moreover, taking the centrality of the human person as a starting point helps to avoid the risks associated with adopting a reductionist and sterile neo-Malthusian approach which views human beings as an obstacle to sustainable development. There is no conflict between human beings and their environment, but rather a stable and inseparable covenant in which the environment conditions the life and development of human beings, while they in turn perfect and ennoble the environment by their creative, productive and responsible labour. It is this covenant which needs to be reinforced; a covenant which respects the dignity of the human being from his or her conception. Here too it is proper to reaffirm that the expression “gender equality” means the equal dignity of both men and women.


In the last four decades significant changes have occurred in the international community. We need but think of the extraordinary progress made in technical and scientific knowledge, which has found application in strategic sectors of the economy and society like transportation, energy and communications. This extraordinary progress coexists however with the deviations and dramatic problems of development encountered by many countries, as well as the economic and financial crisis experienced by much of present-day society. These problems increasingly challenge the international community to a continued and deepened reflection on the meaning of the economy and its goals, as well as to a profound and farsighted review of the current model of development so as to correct its dysfunctions. Indeed, it is demanded by the earth’s state of ecological health, and above all by the cultural and moral crisis of humanity, the symptoms of which have been evident for some time throughout the world. (2)

On the basis of these premises, the Holy See wishes, in the context of the Rio+20 process, to examine certain particular issues which have clear ethical and social repercussions for humanity as a whole.

First, the definition of a new model of development, to which Rio+20 seeks to contribute, must be completely anchored in, and permeated by, those principles which are the basis for the effective protection of human dignity. These principles are fundamental for the correct implementation of a development marked by special concern for persons who are in most vulnerable situations, and thus they guarantee respect for the centrality of the human person. These principles call for:
• responsibility, even when changes must be made to patterns of production and consumption in order to ensure that they reflect an appropriate lifestyle;
• promoting and sharing in the common good;
• access to primary goods, included such essential and fundamental goods as nutrition, education, security, peace and health; in this last case, it must always be noted that the right to health stems from the right to life: abortion and contraception are gravely opposed to life and can never be health issues. Health is about care and not mere services: this commodification of health care places technical concerns ahead of human concerns;
• a universal solidarity capable of acknowledging the unity of the human family;
• the protection of creation which in turn is linked to inter-generational equity; moreover, inter-generational solidarity requires taking into account the ability of future generations to discharge developmental burdens;
• intra-generational equity, which is closely linked to social justice;
• the universal destination not only of goods, but also of the fruits of human enterprise.

These principles should be the glue holding together the shared vision which will light up the path of Rio+20 and post-Rio+20. For its part, Rio+20 could contribute significantly to the definition of a new model of development, to the extent that the discussions at the Conference serve to construct that model on the basis of the principles mentioned above.


Another fundamental principle is that of subsidiarity, as a consolidation of that international governance of sustainable developmentwhich is one of the principal subjects to be discussed at Rio+20. Nowadays the principle of subsidiarity, also in the international community, is increasingly considered a means of regulating social relations and thus concomitant with the definition of rules and institutional forms. A correct subsidiarity can enable public powers, from the local level to the highest international instances, to operate effectively for the enhancement of each person, the protection of resources and the promotion of the common good. Nonetheless, theprinciple of subsidiarity must be closely linked to the principle of solidarity and vice versa. For if subsidiarity without solidarity lapses into social privatism, it is likewise true that solidarity without subsidiarity lapses into a welfare mentality which is demeaning to those in need. (3) This must be all the more clearly evident in reflections of an international character such as those of Rio+20, where the implementation of these two principles must result in the adoption of mechanisms aimed at combating the current inequities between and within States, and thus favouring the transfer of suitable technologies to the local level, the promotion of a more equitable and inclusive global market, respect for commitments made to provide aid for development, and finding new and innovative financial instruments which would put human dignity, the common good and the protection of creation at the centre of economic life.

In the context of applying the principle of subsidiarity, it is also important to acknowledge and enhance the role of the family, the basic cell of our human society and “the natural and the fundamental group unit of society”, as mentioned in Art. 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In addition, it is the principle of subsidiarity’s last line of defence against totalitarianism. For it is in the family that the fundamental process of education and growth begins for every person, so that the principles mentioned above can be assimilated and passed on to future generations. For that matter, it is within the family that we receive our first, decisive notions about truth and goodness, where we learn what it means to love and to be loved, and so, in concrete, what it means to be a person. (4)

Discussions on the international framework for sustainable development should therefore be grounded in a principle of subsidiarity which would fully enhance the role of the family, together with the principle of solidarity; they should include the fundamental concepts of respect for human dignity and the centrality of human beings.


A third issue to which the Holy See wishes to draw attention in the framework of the Rio+20 process is the linkage between sustainable development and integral human development. Together with material and social welfare, consideration must also be given to the ethical and spiritual values which guide and give meaning to economic decisions and consequently to technological progress,inasmuch as every economic decision has a moral consequence. The technical economic sphere is neither ethically neutral, nor by nature inhuman and antisocial. It pertains to human activity and, precisely as human, needs to be ethically structured and institutionalized. (5)

Certainly this presents a complex challenge, yet emphasis must be placed on the importance of passing from a merely economic concept of development to a model of development that is integrally human in all its aspects: economic, social and environmental, (6) and based on the dignity of each person.

This means further anchoring the three pillars of sustainable development in an ethical vision based precisely on human dignity. The challenge can be met concretely by launching the process of determining a series of sustainable development goals through the promotion of innovative efforts to fine-tune older and newer indicators of development in the short and medium term. These indicators should be capable of effectively verifying improvement or deterioration not only in the economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development, but also in its ethical aspects, taking into consideration resources and needs, and access to goods and services, be they material or immaterial.


A fourth area of interest for the Holy See has to do with the green economy. As the debate which took place during the preparatory meetings for Rio+20 made clear, a great number of concerns exist about the transition to the “green economy”. This concept, which has yet to be clearly defined, has the potential to make an important contribution to the cause of peace and international solidarity. It is nonetheless essential that it be applied in an inclusive manner, directing it clearly to the promotion of the common good and the elimination of poverty on the local level, an element essential to the attainment of sustainable development. Care must also be taken lest the green economy give rise to new ways of “conditioning” commerce and international aid, and thus become a latent form of “green protectionism”. It is also important for the green economy to be principally focused on integral human development. From this standpoint, and in the light of the identification of suitable patterns of consumption and production, the green economy can become a significant tool for promoting decent work and prove capable of fostering an economic growth which respects not only the environment but also the dignity of the human person.

The Holy See trusts that the outcome of Rio+20 will not only be successful but also, and above all, innovative and farsighted. In this way it will contribute to the material and spiritual welfare of every individual, family and community.


1. Cf. POPE BENEDICT XVI, Address at the Collective Presentation of Credential Letters by Several Ambassadors (9 June 2011).
2. Cf. BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 32.
3. Cf. ibid., 58.
4. Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 39.
5. Cf. BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 36 and 37.
6. Cf. Angelus Message of JOHN PAUL II for 25 August 2002, the Sunday before the opening of the Johannesburg Summit.


Vatican Communiqué on Meeting With Society of St. Pius X

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 14, 2012 - Here is the text of a Vatican communiqué released today regarding the Society of St. Pius X.

* * *

On the afternoon of Wednesday 13 June, Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and president of the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei', met with Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X who was accompanied by an assistant. Also present at the encounter were Archbishop Luis Ladaria S.J., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Msgr. Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei'.

The purpose of the meeting was to present the Holy See's evaluation of the text submitted in April by the Society of St. Pius X in response to the Doctrinal Preamble which the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith had presented to the Society on 14 September 2011. The subsequent discussion offered an opportunity the provide the appropriate explanations and clarifications. For his part, Bishop Fellay illustrated the current situation of the Society of St. Pius X and promised to make his response known within a reasonable lapse of time.

Also during the meeting, a draft document was submitted proposing a Personal Prelature as the most appropriate instrument for any future canonical recognition of the Society.

As was stated in the communique released on 16 May 2012, the situation of the other three bishops of the Society of St. Pius X will be dealt with separately and singularly.

At the end of the meeting the hope was expressed that this additional opportunity for reflection would also contribute to reaching full communion between the Society of St. Pius X and the Apostolic See.



Vatican City, 29 May 2012 (VIS) - Given below are extracts from the document "Norms regarding the manner of proceeding in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations", published recently by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The document was approved by Pope Paul VI and issued by the congregation in 1978 though it was not then officially published as it was principally intended as a direct aid for the pastors of the Church.


"1. Today, more than in the past, news of these apparitions is diffused rapidly among the faithful thanks to the ... mass media. Moreover, the ease of going from one place to another fosters frequent pilgrimages, so that Ecclesiastical Authority should discern quickly about the merits of such matters.

"2. On the other hand, modern mentality and the requirements of critical scientific investigation render it more difficult, if not almost impossible, to achieve with the required speed the judgements that in the past concluded the investigation of such matters ('constat de supernaturalitate, non constat de supernaturalitate')".

"When Ecclesiastical Authority is informed of a presumed apparition or revelation, it will be its responsibility:

"a) first, to judge the fact according to positive and negative criteria;

"b) then, if this examination results in a favourable conclusion, to permit some public manifestation of cult or of devotion, overseeing this with great prudence (equivalent to the formula, 'for now, nothing stands in the way') ('pro nunc nihil obstare').

"c) finally, in light of time passed and of experience, with special regard to the fecundity of spiritual fruit generated from this new devotion, to express a judgement regarding the authenticity and supernatural character if the case so merits"


"A) Positive Criteria:

"a) Moral certitude, or at least great probability of the existence of the fact, acquired by means of a serious investigation;

"b) Particular circumstances relative to the existence and to the nature of the fact, that is to say:

"1. Personal qualities of the subject or of the subjects (in particular, psychological equilibrium, honesty and rectitude of moral life, sincerity and habitual docility towards Ecclesiastical Authority, the capacity to return to a normal regimen of a life of faith, etc.);

"2. As regards revelation: true theological and spiritual doctrine and immune from error;

"3. Healthy devotion and abundant and constant spiritual fruit (for example, spirit of prayer, conversion, testimonies of charity, etc.).

"B) Negative Criteria:

"a) Manifest error concerning the fact.

"b) Doctrinal errors attributed to God Himself, or to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or to some saint in their manifestations, taking into account however the possibility that the subject might have added, even unconsciously, purely human elements or some error of the natural order to an authentic supernatural revelation.

"c) Evidence of a search for profit or gain strictly connected to the fact.

"d) Gravely immoral acts committed by the subject or his or her followers when the fact occurred or in connection with it.

"e) Psychological disorder or psychopathic tendencies in the subject, that with certainty influenced on the presumed supernatural fact, or psychosis, collective hysteria or other things of this kind.

"It is to be noted that these criteria, be they positive or negative, are not peremptory but rather indicative, and they should be applied cumulatively or with some mutual convergence".


"1. If, on the occasion of a presumed supernatural fact, there arises in a spontaneous way among the faithful a certain cult or some devotion, the competent Ecclesiastical Authority has the serious duty of looking into it without delay and of diligently watching over it.

"2. If the faithful request it legitimately (that is, in communion with the pastors, and not prompted by a sectarian spirit), the competent Ecclesiastical Authority can intervene to permit or promote some form of cult or devotion, if, after the application of the above criteria, nothing stands in the way. They must be careful that the faithful do not interpret this practice as approval of the supernatural nature of the fact on the part of the Church.

"3. By reason of its doctrinal and pastoral task, the competent Authority can intervene 'motu proprio' and indeed must do so in grave circumstances, for example in order to correct or prevent abuses in the exercise of cult and devotion, to condemn erroneous doctrine, to avoid the dangers of a false or unseemly mysticism, etc.

"4. In doubtful cases that clearly do not put the good of the Church at risk, the competent Ecclesiastical Authority is to refrain from any judgement and from any direct action (because it can also happen that, after a certain period of time, the presumed supernatural fact falls into oblivion); it must not however cease from being vigilant by intervening if necessary, with promptness and prudence".


"1. Above all, the duty of vigilance and intervention falls to the Ordinary of the place.

"2. The regional or national Conference of Bishops can intervene" in certain cases.

"3. The Apostolic See can intervene if asked either by the Ordinary himself, by a qualified group of the faithful, or even directly by reason of the universal jurisdiction of the Supreme Pontiff".


"1. a) The intervention of the Sacred Congregation can be requested either by the Ordinary, after he has done his part, or by a qualified group of the faithful. In this second case, care must be taken that recourse to the Sacred Congregation not be motivated by suspect reasons (for example, in order to compel the Ordinary to modify his own legitimate decisions, to support some sectarian group, etc.).

b) It is up to the Sacred Congregation to intervene 'motu proprio' in more grave cases, especially if the matter affects the larger part of the Church".

"2. It is up to the Sacred Congregation to judge and approve the Ordinary’s way of proceeding or, in so far as it be possible and fitting, to initiate a new examination of the matter".


Holy See at World Health Assembly
The world of health care cannot disregard the moral rules that must govern it

GENEVA, Switzerland, MAY 23, 2012 .- Here is the text of an address delivered today by Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, head of the Delegation of the Holy See to the 65th World Health Assembly, under way in Geneva through Saturday.

* * *

Madame President,

1. My delegation, in conjunction with other delegations, wishes to reaffirm the Resolution on Sustainable health financing structures and universal coverage (WHA64.9), which among others urges member States to aim for affordable universal coverage and access for all citizens on the basis of equity and solidarity. As Pope Benedict XVI emphasizes, “in the health-care sector too, which is an integral part of everyone’s life and of the common good, it is important to establish a real distributive justice which, on the basis of objective needs, guarantees adequate care to all. Consequently, if it is not to become inhuman, the world of health care cannot disregard the moral rules that must govern it.”[1]

The goal of the International Community is to enable everyone to access health services without running the risk of financial hardship in doing so (WHA58.33). Despite the progress made in some countries, we are still a long way from this target. There is need therefore for greater commitment at all levels in order to ensure that the right to health care is rendered effective by furthering access to basic health care. In this regard, the Holy See delegation supports the integration of universal coverage in high-level meetings related to health or social development, as well as its inclusion as a priority in the global development agenda.

At the recent Forum on Universal Health Coverage held in Mexico City, on 2 April, 2012, it was noted that more countries, especially those with emerging economies, are moving towards universal coverage, and this is very encouraging. The results obtained in these countries are not simply a fruit of financial resources; it has been observed that good policies that promote equity have guaranteed better health for a greater number of citizens in these countries. Therefore my delegation strongly believes that in the endeavor to promote universal coverage, fundamental values such as equity, human rights and social justice need to become explicit policy objectives.

2. Secondly, Madame President, it has been shown by both low and middle-income countries that progress towards universal coverage is not the prerogative of high-income countries. Nevertheless, most low-income countries need the support of the international community, especially of high-income countries and other development partners, in order to overcome the funding shortfalls in health. The Holy See delegation therefore wishes to reiterate the call for greater global solidarity and commitment in development assistance for health. Evoking the words of the Holy Father, “more economically developed nations should do all they can to allocate larger portions of their gross domestic product to development aid, thus respecting the obligations that the international community has undertaken in this regard.”[2]

3. Lastly, at the level of each single nation, the progress towards universal coverage cannot be the effort of the state machinery alone. It requires support from the civil society and communities, whose contribution to health service delivery is fundamental. In this regard States should, “in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledge and support initiatives arising from the different social forces and combine spontaneity with closeness to those in need.”[3] Faith-based organizations and Church-sponsored healthcare institutions, inspired by Charity, are part of those living forces in the healthcare field.

With over 120,000 social and healthcare institutions world-wide,[4] the Catholic Church is in many developing countries, one of the key partners of the State in healthcare delivery, providing services in remote areas to rural low-income populations, enabling them to access services that would otherwise be out of their reach. The efforts and contribution of such organizations and institutions towards universal access, merit the recognition and support of both the State and the International Community, without obliging them to participate in activities they find morally abhorrent. Thus Pope Benedict XVI asks “international agencies to acknowledge them and to offer them assistance, respecting their specific character and acting in a spirit of collaboration.”[5]

Thank you, Madame President, and God bless you all.

--- --- ---

[1] Benedict XVI, Message to Participants in the 25th International Conference Organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, 15 November 2010, Vatican City.

[2] Benedict XVI, Encyclical letter Caritas in veritate, n. 60.

[3] Benedict XVI, Encyclical letter Deus Caritas est, n. 28b.

[4] Secretaria Status, Statistical Year Book of the Church 2009, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 2009, pp. 355-365.

[5] Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus, n. 73.


Holy See to UN Population and Development Commission
"It is important that the natural and thus essential relationship between parents and their children be affirmed and supported, not undermined"

NEW YORK, MAY 2, 2012 .- Here is the text of the Holy See statement to the 45th session of the U.N. Commission on Population and Development, given April 24.

* * *

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation is grateful that, in his report on the “Monitoring of population programmes, focusing on adolescents and youth” (E/CN.9/2012/5), the Secretary-General affirms the importance of families in the formation of adolescents and youth and thus the rights and responsibilities of their parents. The family is the original nucleus of society, the primordial foundation of social ties and the locus where the relations of tomorrow--nuptial, parental, filial, fraternal--are cultivated. Each family, founded on the indissoluble union between a man and a woman, accomplishes its mission of being a living cell of society, a nursery of virtues, a school of constructive and peaceful coexistence, an instrument of harmony and a privileged environment in which human life is welcomed and protected, joyfully and responsibly, from its beginning until its natural end. In this regard, the singular and irreplaceable value of the family founded upon matrimony and the inviolability of human life from conception until natural death must be affirmed.

For some time now, my delegation has noticed a disconcerting trend, namely, the desire on the part of some to downplay the role of parents in the upbringing of their children, as if to suggest somehow that it is not the role of parents, but that of the State. In this regard it is important that the natural and thus essential relationship between parents and their children be affirmed and supported, not undermined. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) affirms that “parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children” (Article 26, 3) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) affirms that parents have “the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child” (Article 18, 1). These principles bear particular import regarding all matters pertaining to children, including, for example, with regard to their access to, as well as confidentiality and privacy of, information, education and communication activities and services concerning their health and wellbeing, including in the areas of human love, human sexuality, marriage and the family. It is not surprising that, on many occasions in the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), direct reference is made to the essential role of parents regarding their children and that all policies and programmes regarding children be in line with the CRC (cf., e.g., Principles 10 and 11; 6.7, 6.15, 7.37, and 10.12).

Mr. Chairman,

With almost 90 percent of youth living in developing countries—40 percent of them constituting the world’s unemployed—and literacy rates of youth below 80 percent in some parts of Africa and Asia, my delegation reaffirms the essential role of education which is a human right (cf., UDHR, Article 26, ICESCR, Article 13, CRC, Articles 28 and 29). Education plays a fundamental role in achieving sustained and equitable economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development and reducing inequity and inequality, and is indispensible to protect and affirm the transcendent dignity of every person. Gratefully in his report on “Adolescents and youth,” the Secretary-General rightly notes that “Ensuring universal primary education and expanding enrolment at the secondary level can yield many dividends, especially with regard to improving skills for productive employment, reducing risky behaviours and developing habits that can influence health for the rest of young people’s lives;” and that “Greater investments in their education, health and labour market opportunities can shape the well-being of tomorrow’s adults and, in the process, ultimately narrow the gaps between countries with regard to human development” (E/CN.9/2012/4, 5-6).

The State has an essential responsibility to assure the provision of educational services, and the right to educate is a fundamental responsibility of parents, religious institutions and local communities. Public institutions, especially at the local level, organizations of civil society and also the private sector, can offer their unique and respective contributions to the attainment of universal access to education. The educational system functions correctly when it includes participation, in planning and implementation of educational policies, of parents, the family, and religious organizations, other civil society organizations and also the private sector. The goal of education must extend to the formation of the person, the transmission of values, a work ethic, and a sense of solidarity with the entire human family. In this educational process, the State should respect the choices that parents make for their children and avoid attempts at ideological indoctrination. As affirmed in international law, States are called to have respect for the freedom of parents to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities, to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions which equally applies to their right to make judgments on moral issues regarding their children (cf., e.g., UDHR, Article 26, 3, ICESCR, Article 13, 3, and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, Article 12, 4). There are about 250,000 Catholic schools around the world. The Catholic school assists parents who have the right and duty to choose schools inclusive of homeschooling, and they must possess the freedom to do so, which in turn, must be respected and facilitated by the State. Parents must cooperate closely with teachers, who, on their part, must collaborate with parents.

The international community has made significant progress in reducing the number of children without access to primary education. However, as of 2008, some 67.5 million children remained out of school, and if the current trajectory is maintained, the international community will not be able to attain the goal of universal primary education by 2015 (cf., EFA Global Monitoring Report 2011). Among the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), three countries report enrolment rated below 50%, and only 17 countries report rates above 80%. Despite the progress thus far, much more needs to be done for the international goal of the primary education of all boys and girls to be achieved. It is necessary as well that secondary education and vocational training opportunities are provided which is particularly important for the significant number of young people in many developing countries and also for young migrants (cf., ICRMW, Articles 30, 43 and 45). In this regard, it is important that States address and promote the employment of young people in their national development policies and programmes, focusing on decent work and the elimination of child labor.

Mr. Chairman,

An authentic rights based approach to development places the human person, bearing within him or her infinite and divine inspirations, at the center of all development concerns, and thus respects the nature of the family, the role of parents, including their religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds, and affirms the contribution that young people can and do make to their community and society (cf., ICPD Programme of Action, Chapter II). The more the countries recognize this, the more they will be able to put into place policies and programmes that advance the overall wellbeing of all persons.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Statement on China Commission Meeting
Laity "are called to participate with apostolic zeal in the evangelization of the Chinese people"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 26, 2012 .- Here is the statement from the Commission for the Catholic Church in China, regarding its three-day meeting that concluded Wednesday.

* * *

The Commission which Pope Benedict XVI established in 2007 to study questions of major importance regarding the life of the Catholic Church in China met in the Vatican for the fifth time from 23 to 25 April.

With deep spiritual closeness to all brothers and sisters in the faith living in China, the Commission recognized the gifts of fidelity and dedication which the Lord has given to his Church throughout the past year.

The participants examined the theme of the formation of the lay faithful, in view also of the "Year of Faith" which the Holy Father has announced will be held from 11 October 2012 to 24 November 2013. The words of the Gospel, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and man" (Lk 2:52), set out the task to which the Catholic lay faithful in China are called.

In the first place, they must enter ever more deeply into the life of the Church, nourished by doctrine, conscious of their being part of the Catholic Church, and consistent with the requirements of life in Christ, which necessitates hearing the word of God with faith. From this perspective, a profound knowledge of the Catechism of the Catholic Church will be a particularly important aid for them.

In the second place, lay Catholics are called to take part in civic life and in the world of work, offering their own contribution with full responsibility: by loving life and respecting it from conception until natural death; by loving the family, promoting values which are also proper to traditional Chinese culture; by loving their country as honest citizens concerned for the common good. As an ancient Chinese sage put it, "the way of great learning consists in illustrating noble virtues, in renewing and staying close to people, and in reaching the supreme good."

Thirdly, the lay faithful in China must grow in grace before God and men, by nourishing and perfecting their own spiritual life as active members of the parish community and by involving themselves in the apostolate, also with the help of associations and Church movements which foster their ongoing formation.

In this regard, the Commission noted with joy that the proclamation of the Gospel by Catholic communities, which are sometimes poor and without material resources, encourages many adults to request baptism every year. It was thus emphasized that the Dioceses in China should promote a serious catechumenate, adopt the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, and care for their formation after Baptism as well. Pastors, both Bishops and priests, should make every effort to consolidate the lay faithful in their knowledge of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, and in particular of ecclesiology and the social doctrine of the Church. Moreover, it will be useful to dedicate special solicitude to the preparation of pastoral workers dedicated to evangelization, catechesis and works of charity. The integral formation of lay Catholics, above all in those places where rapid social evolution and significant economic development are occurring, is part of a commitment to make the local Church vibrant and thriving. Finally, an adequate response to the phenomenon of internal migration and urbanization is to be hoped for.

Practical indications, which the Holy See has proposed and will propose to the universal Church for a fruitful celebration of the "Year of Faith", will undoubtedly be heeded with enthusiasm and with a creative spirit also in China. These suggestions will stimulate the Catholic community to find adequate initiatives to put into practice what Pope Benedict XVI has written regarding the lay faithful and the family in his Letter of 27 May 2007 to the Catholic Church in the People’s Republic of China (cf. Letter to the Bishops, Priests, Consecrated Persons and Lay Faithful of the Catholic Church in the People’s Republic of China, 15-16).

The lay faithful, therefore, are called to participate with apostolic zeal in the evangelization of the Chinese people. By virtue of their baptism and confirmation, they receive from Christ the grace and the task to build up the Church (cf. Eph 4:1-16).

In the course of the Meeting, attention then focussed on the Pastors, in particular on Bishops and priests who are detained or who are suffering unjust limitations on the performance of their mission. Admiration was expressed for the strength of their faith and for their union with the Holy Father. They need the Church’s prayer in a special way so as to face their difficulties with serenity and in fidelity to Christ.

The Church needs good Bishops. They are a gift of God to his people, for the benefit of whom they exercise the office of teaching, sanctifying and governing. They are also called to provide reasons for life and hope to all whom they meet. They receive from Christ, through the Church, their task and authority, which they exercise in union with the Roman Pontiff and with all the Bishops throughout the world.

Concerning the particular situation of the Church in China, it was noted that the claim of the entities, called "One Association and One Conference", to place themselves above the Bishops and to guide the life of the ecclesial community, persists. In this regard, the instructions given in the Letter of Pope Benedict XVI (cf. Letter to the Bishops, Priests, Consecrated Persons and Lay Faithful of the Catholic Church in the People’s Republic of China, 7), remain current and provide direction. It is important to observe them so that the face of the Church may shine forth with clarity in the midst of the noble Chinese people.

This clarity has been obfuscated by those clerics who have illegitimately received episcopal ordination and by those illegitimate Bishops who have carried out acts of jurisdiction or who have administered the Sacraments. In so doing, they usurp a power which the Church has not conferred upon them. In recent days, some of them have participated in episcopal ordinations which were authorized by the Church. The behaviour of these Bishops, in addition to aggravating their canonical status, has disturbed the faithful and often has violated the consciences of the priests and lay faithful who were involved.

Furthermore, this clarity has been obfuscated by legitimate Bishops who have participated in illegitimate episcopal ordinations. Many of these Bishops have since clarified their position and have requested pardon; the Holy Father has benevolently forgiven them. Others, however, who also took part in these illegitimate ordinations, have not yet made this clarification, and thus are encouraged to do so as soon as possible.

The participants in the Plenary Meeting follow these painful events with attention and in a spirit of charity. Though they are aware of the particular difficulties of the present situation, they recall that evangelization cannot be achieved by sacrificing essential elements of the Catholic faith and discipline. Obedience to Christ and to the Successor of Peter is the presupposition of every true renewal and this applies to every category within the People of God. Lay people themselves are sensitive to the clear ecclesial fidelity of their own Pastors.

With regard to priests, consecrated persons and seminarians, the Commission reflected once again on the importance of their formation, rejoicing in the sincere and praiseworthy commitment to provide not only suitable programmes of human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral formation for the seminarians, but also times of ongoing formation for priests. In addition, appreciative mention was made of the initiatives which are being undertaken by various female religious institutes to coordinate formation activities for consecrated persons.

It was noted, on the other hand, that the number of vocations to the priestly and religious life has noticeably declined in recent years. The challenges of the situation impel the faithful to invoke the Lord of the harvest and to strengthen the awareness that each priest and woman religious, faithful and luminous in their evangelical witness, are the primary sign still capable of encouraging today’s young men and women to follow Christ with undivided heart.

Finally, the Commission recalls that this upcoming 24 May, the liturgical memorial of the "Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians" and the Day of Prayer for the Church in China, will provide a particularly auspicious opportunity for the entire Church to ask for energy and consolation, mercy and courage, for the Catholic community in China.


Letter to Priests From Clergy Congregation
"We have accepted the invitation to 'sanctify ourselves' and to become 'ministers of sanctification' for our brothers"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 26, 2012 - Leading up to the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of the Clergy, held on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (this year, June 15), the Congregation for Clergy has written a letter to priests. It is signed by Cardinal Maura Piacenza, the prefect, and Archbishop Celso Morga Iruzubieta, secretary.

* * *

Dear Priests,

on the forthcoming solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (June 15, 2012), as usual, we shall celebrate World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of the Clergy. The expression found in Scripture “This is the will of God: your holiness!” (1 Thess 4:3), though addressed to all Christians, refers to us priests in particular, for we have accepted the invitation to “sanctify ourselves” and to become “ministers of sanctification” for our brothers. In our case, this “will of God” is, so to speak, doubled and multiplied to infinity, and we must obey it in everything we do. This is our wonderful destiny: we cannot be sanctified without working on the holiness of our brothers, and we cannot work on the holiness of our brothers unless we have first worked on and continue to work on our own holiness.

Ushering the Church into the new millennium, Blessed John Paul II reminded us that this “ideal of perfection”, which must be offered to everyone, is normal indeed: “To ask catechumens: ‘Do you wish to receive Baptism?’ means at the same time to ask them: ‘Do you wish to become holy?’”[1]

On the day of our Priestly Ordination the same baptismal question surely resounded in our heart, calling for a personal answer; but it was also entrusted to us so that we might address it to the faithful, cherishing its beauty and preciousness. This does not mean that we are not aware of our personal shortcomings, or of the faults committed by some who have brought shame upon the priesthood before the world. Ten years later – considering that the situation has grown ever more serious – we must let the words pronounced by John Paul II on Holy Thursday of 2002 resound in our heart with greater strength and urgency: “At this time too, as priests we are personally and profoundly afflicted by the sins of some of our brothers who have betrayed the grace of Ordination in succumbing even to the most grievous forms of the mysterium iniquitatis at work in the world. Grave scandal is caused, with the result that a dark shadow of suspicion is cast over all the other fine priests who perform their ministry with honesty and integrity and often with heroic self-sacrifice. As the Church shows her concern for the victims and strives to respond in truth and justice to each of these painful situations, all of us – conscious of human weakness, but trusting in the healing power of divine grace – are called to embrace the ‘mysterium Crucis’ and to commit ourselves more fully to the search for holiness. We must beg God in his Providence to prompt a wholehearted reawakening of those ideals of total self giving to Christ which are the very foundation of the priestly ministry. ”[2]

As ministers of God’s mercy, we know that the search for holiness can always begin again through repentance and forgiveness. But we also feel the need to ask for it, as individual priests, on behalf of all priests and for all priests.[3] Our faith is further strengthened by the Church’s invitation to cross the Porta fidei again, accompanying all of our faithful. As we know, this is the title of the Apostolic Letter with which the Holy Father Benedict XVI called the Year of Faith that will begin on October 12, 2012.

It may be useful to reflect on the circumstances of this invitation. It takes place on the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (October 11, 1962) and on the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (October 11, 1992). Furthermore, the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be held in October 2012, and its theme will be “The new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith.”

We will therefore be expected to work in depth on each of these “chapters”:

– on II Vatican Council, so that it may be accepted once again as “the great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century ”: “a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning ”, “increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church”[4];

– on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, that it may be truly accepted and used as “a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion and a sure norm for teaching the faith”[5];

– on the preparation of the next Synod of Bishops in order that it may truly be “a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith.”[6]

For the time being – as an introduction to this work – we can meditate briefly on this indication provided by the Pope, towards which everything converges: “It is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelize. Today as in the past, he sends us through the highways of the world to proclaim his Gospel to all the peoples of the earth (cf. Mt 28:19). Through his love, Jesus Christ attracts to himself the people of every generation: in every age he convokes the Church, entrusting her with the proclamation of the Gospel by a mandate that is ever new. Today too, there is a need for stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith.”[7]

“The people of every generation”, “all the peoples of the earth”, “new evangelization”: before such a universal horizon, we priests must ask ourselves how and where such statements can come together and stand. So we can begin by recalling that the Catechism of the Catholic Church itself begins with a universal outlook, recognizing “Man’s ‘capacity’ for God”[8]; but it does so choosing – as its first quotation – the following text of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: “The root reason (“eximia ratio”) for human dignity lies in man's call to communion with God. From the very circumstance of his origin man is already invited to converse with God. For man would not exist were he not created by Gods love (“ex amore”), and constantly preserved by it (“ex amore”); and he cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and devotes himself to His Creator. Still, many of our contemporaries have never recognized this intimate and vital link with God, or have explicitly rejected it.” (“hanc intimam ac vitalem coniunctionem cum Deo”)[9].

How could we forget that, with the text quoted above – and in the richness of the wording chosen – the Conciliar Fathers intended to speak directly to atheists, upholding the immense dignity of the vocation from which they had departed? And they did so with the same words used to describe the Christian experience, at the peak of its mystic intensity! The Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei also begins stating that it “ushers us into the life of communion with God”, which means that it allows us to become directly immersed in the central mystery of the faith we are called to profess: “To profess faith in the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is to believe in one God who is Love ” (ibid. n. 1).

All this must resound in a special way in our heart and in our mind, making us aware of what is the greatest tragedy of our times. Christianized nations are no longer tempted to surrender to a general sort of atheism (as they were in the past) which results from having forgotten the beauty and warmth of the Trinitarian Revelation. Today it is especially priests, in their daily worship and ministry, who must refer everything to the Trinitarian Communion: only by starting from it and by immersing oneself in it can the faithful really discover the face of the Son of God and of His contemporariness, and really reach the heart of every man and the homeland they are all called to. Only this way can us priests restore contemporary man’s dignity, the sense of human relationships and social life, and the purpose of the whole of creation. “Believing in only One God who is love ”: no new evangelization will really be possible unless us Christians are able to surprise and move the world again by proclaiming the Nature of Our God who is Love, in the Three Divine Persons that express it and that involve us in their own life.

Today’s world, with its ever more painful and preoccupying lacerations, needs God- The Trinity, and the Church has the task to proclaim Him. In order to fulfil this task, the Church must remain indissolubly embraced with Christ and never part from Him; it needs Saints who dwell “in the heart of Jesus” and are happy witnesses of God’s Trinitarian Love. And in order to serve the Church and the World, Priests need to be Saints!

From the Vatican, March 26, 2012 Solemnity of the Annunciation of the B.V.

Mauro Card. Piacenza, Prefect

Celso Morga Iruzubieta, Tit. Archbishop of Alba Marittima, Secretary

--- --- ---


[1] Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, n. 31.

[2] JOHN PAUL II, Letter to Priests on Holy Thursday 2002.

[3] CONGREGATION FOR THE CLERGY, The priest, minister of Divine Mercy. An aid for confessors and spiritual directors, 9 March 2011, 14-18; 74-76; 110-116 (the priest as penitent and spiritual disciple ).

[4] Cfr. Porta fidei, n.5.

[5] Cfr. Ibid., n. 11.

[6] Ibid., n. 5.

[7] Ibid., n. 7.

[8] Section One. Chapter I.

[9] Gaudium et Spes, n. 19 and Catechism of the Catholic Church n. 27.


Prayer for the Church and for Priests
"O Lord, shatter and bring to naught all that might tarnish the sanctity of Priests"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 26, 2012 - Leading up to the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of the Clergy, held on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (this year, June 15), the Congregation for Clergy has released this prayer for the Church and for priests. The prayer accompanied a letter from the prefect and secretary of the congregation.

* * *


O my Jesus, I beg You on behalf of the whole Church:

Grant it love and the light of Your Spirit,

and give power to the words of Priests

so that hardened hearts might be brought to repentance and return to You, O Lord.

Lord, give us holy Priests;

You yourself maintain them in holiness.

O Divine and Great High Priest,

may the power of Your mercy

accompany them everywhere and protect them

from the devil's traps and snares

which are continually being set for the soul of Priests.

May the power of Your mercy,

O Lord, shatter and bring to naught

all that might tarnish the sanctity of Priests,

for You can do all things.

My beloved Jesus,

I pray to you for the triumph of the Church,

that you may bless the Holy Father and all the clergy;

I beg you to grant the grace of conversion

to sinners whose hearts have been hardened by sin,

and a special blessing and light to priests,

to whom I shall confess for all of my life.

(Saint Faustina Kowalska)

Readings for Reflection for Priests

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 26, 2012 - Leading up to the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of the Clergy, held on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (this year, June 15), the Congregation for Clergy has released this selection of readings for reflection or for celebrations. The reading list accompanied a letter from the prefect and secretary of the congregation.

* * *


From John’s Gospel, 15:14-17

From Luke’s Gospel, 22:14-27

From John’s Gospel, 20:19-23

From the Letter to the Hebrews, 5:1-10


St. John Chrysostom, On the Priesthood, III, 4-5; 6.

Origen, Homilies on Leviticus, 7, 5.


Gaudium et Spes, n. 19 and Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 27.

John Paul II, Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday, 2001.

Benedict XVI, Homily of Holy Thursday, April 13, 2006.


St. Gregory the Great, Dialogues, 4, 59.

St. Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue of Divine Providence, Ch. 116; cfr. Sl 104, 15.

St. Therese of Lisieux, Ms A 56r; LT 108; LT 122; LT 101; Pr n. 8.

Blessed Charles de Foucauld, Ecrits Spirituels, pp. 69-70.

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), WS, 23.


Vatican Message for Today's World Autism Day
"To Share in Solidarity and Prayer in Their Journey of Suffering"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 2, 2012 - Message of Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, for the Fifth World Autism Day, marked today.

* * *

An Appeal for Sensitivity and Supportive Solidarity Towards Autistic People and their Families

On the occasion of the Fifth World Autism Day, the Church intends to express her nearness to those who are burdened by the weight of this profound suffering. In large measure still to be explored, autistic spectrum disorders constitute, indeed, for those who are affected by them, a grave alteration of behaviour, of verbal and non-verbal communication, and of social integration, with a wide-ranging effect on the normal development and evolution of the personality.

In this pathological movement of self-envelopment and closure to the other and the external world, the Church sees as impelling the task of placing herself at the side of these people – children and young people in particular – and their families, if not to breakdown these barriers of silence then at least to share in solidarity and prayer in their journey of suffering. Indeed, this suffering, at times, also acquires features of frustration and resignation, not least because of the still scarce therapeutic results. These frustrations are to be seen, in particular, in families which, although they look after these children with loving care, experience repercussions as regards the quality of their own lives, and are often, in their turn, led to be closed up in an isolation that marginalises and wounds.

The Church and all people of good will thus feel committed to being ‘travelling companions’ with those who live this eloquent silence, which calls upon our sensitivity towards the suffering of others, following the emblematic example portrayed in the gospel parable of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:29-37). To bend down before the sufferings of others, in addition, becomes more incisive this year, given that this World Day is taking pace during Holy Week, which draws us near to the suffering, the death and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Being moved, together with prayer, is often in such a situation – as in the case of people with autistic disturbances – if not the only, then at least one of, the principal expressions of love and our solidarity. Here the words of the Blessed John Paul II have not lost their importance: ‘The Church, as my venerable Predecessor Paul VI liked to say, is “a love that seeks out”. How I would like you all to feel welcomed and embraced in her love!’ (Address on the Occasion of the Jubilee of the Disabled, December 2000, n. 3). The Church thus feels the commitment really to become increasingly the house of the Father where everyone can find the fullness of human and divine love.

The warmth of this embrace is evident in the devotion of so many families and communities, and of very many health-care workers, educators, professionals and volunteers, to whom goes all of our esteem and gratitude. However, this does not remove the fact that in addition to cultivating constantly, and expressing, this sensitivity of the heart and communion in prayer, the scientific world and health-care policies must also be encouraged to engage in and, where necessary, increase, diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitative pathways that can address a pathology which affects more people in numerical terms than could have been imagined only a few years ago. To encourage and sustain, in the supportive action of the world of schools, voluntary work and associations, these efforts is a duty, not least to discover and bring out that dignity which even the gravest and most devastating disability does not eliminate and which always fills us with hope. Not ephemeral and fleeting hope but hope which in every circumstance nourishes the heart of those who have been redeemed by the glorious Cross of Christ: ‘Through him we have become certain of God, a God who is not a remote “first cause” of the world, because his only-begotten Son has become man and of him everyone can say: “I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20)’ (Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Spe salvi, n. 26).

This is our God, who knows tenderness and uses mercy, who always keeps us in His gaze, because He has written us on the palms of His hands (cf. Is 49:16). To His loving hands, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, we entrust the lives of so many of our autistic brothers and sisters and their families who, although enveloped in the mystery of silence because of a grave psychological disturbance, are never alone, inasmuch as they are passionately loved by God and, in Him, by the community of those whose faith commits them to becoming a living and transparent sign of the presence of the Resurrected Christ in the world.

On the occasion of Easter, I wish everyone all the good and joy in the Risen Lord. Hallelujah!

The Vatican, 2 April 2012



Vatican City, 20 March 2012 (VIS) - Given below is a note released this morning by the Holy See Press Office concerning the summary of the findings of the Apostolic Visitation in Ireland. It is, the English-language text reads, "a synthesis of the results of the Visitations to the four archdioceses, to religious institutes and to the Irish seminaries. It has been approved by the offices which conducted the Visitation and it also contains some further observations from the Holy See, in addition to those that the individual dicasteries communicated to the leaders of the respective archdioceses or institutes.

"There follows a list of some of the principal elements contained in the summary:

"(a) The Holy See reiterates the sense of dismay expressed by Pope Benedict XVI in his Letter to the Catholics of Ireland and the closeness that he has often manifested towards the victims of these sinful and criminal acts committed by priests and religious.

"(b) The Visitation, which was pastoral in nature, was able on the one hand to acknowledge the seriousness of the shortcomings that gave rise, in the past, not least on the part of various bishops and religious superiors, to an inadequate understanding of and reaction to the terrible phenomenon of the abuse of minors. On the other hand, it is clearly pointed out that, beginning in the 1990s, decisive progress has been made, leading to a greater awareness of the problem and profound changes in the way of addressing it. It is recommended that bishops and religious superiors keep up their commitment to welcoming and supporting victims of abuse.

"(c) The guidelines contained in the 2008 document Safeguarding Children (which supersedes earlier documents) envisage: far-reaching involvement of the lay faithful and of ecclesiastical structures in the work of prevention and formation, close cooperation with civil authorities in swift reporting of accusations, and constant reference to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in matters that pertain to its competence. These norms have proved to be an effective instrument for handling accusations of abuse and for increasing the awareness of the entire Christian community in the area of child protection. The Guidelines are to be further updated on the basis of the Circular Letter published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 3 May 2011, and periodically reviewed.

"(d) The work of the National Board for Safeguarding Children is thorough and far-reaching. Of particular value is its auditing of the implementation of the guidelines in individual dioceses and religious institutes. It is recommended that this auditing process be extended as soon as possible to all the dioceses and religious institutes and that it be regularly repeated.

"(e) On the basis of the recently published document Interim Guidance, bishops and religious superiors, in cooperation with the National Board, will have to formulate norms for handling cases of priests or religious who have been accused, but in whose case the Director of Public Prosecutions has decided not to proceed. Similarly, norms should be established for facilitating the return to ministry of falsely accused priests, and for ensuring that proper pastoral attention is given to priests or religious who are found guilty of abuse of minors.

"(f) The Visitation to the seminaries was able to appreciate the commitment of the formators and the seminarians, and the attention given to intellectual, human and spiritual formation. In the seminaries, clear child protection norms are in place, with a broad understanding of all that this involves for the life of the Church. In order to improve the quality of the formation, it has been recommended, among other things, to ensure that it is rooted in authentic priestly identity, to reinforce the structures of episcopal governance over the seminaries, to introduce more consistent admissions criteria, to ensure that the seminarians are housed in buildings reserved for their exclusive use, and to include in the academic programme in-depth formation on matters of child protection.

"(g) Each religious institute is invited to design a three-year programme for focusing anew on the founding charism and on the fundamental sources, developing adequate means for revitalising individual communities in the areas of prayer, community life and apostolic mission. The institutes are invited to develop a collaborative ministerial outreach towards those who suffer the consequences of abuse.

"(h) The Visitation recognised that the painful events of recent years have also opened many wounds within the Catholic community. On the other hand, this time of trial has also brought to light the continuing vitality of the Irish people’s faith. Among the signs of hope are the dedication with which many bishops, priests and religious live out their vocation, the human and spiritual bonds that many of them have observed among the lay faithful at a time of crisis, the deep faith of many men and women and a remarkable level of involvement among priests, religious and lay faithful in the structures of child protection. In this context, a renewed call to communion is made - communion among the bishops themselves and with the Successor of Peter, communion between bishops and priests, between pastors and laypersons, between diocesan structures and communities of consecrated life.

"(i) Finally, certain pastoral priorities are mentioned which may help to guide renewal: formation in the content of the faith, a new appreciation of the commitment of the laity, the role of teachers of religion, openness to the contribution offered by movements and associations, and fidelity to the teachings of the Magisterium. It is stated, moreover, that the Holy See and the Irish bishops have already initiated a joint reflection on the present configuration of dioceses in Ireland, with a view to adapting diocesan structures to make them better suited to the present-day mission of the Church in Ireland".



Vatican City, 20 March 2012 (VIS) - A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present the arrival in Palermo of the "Courtyard of the Gentiles", an initiative of the Pontifical Council for Culture which has the aim of promoting dialogue between believers and non-believers on the great issues facing the modern world. The event will take place in Palermo, Italy, on 29 and 30 March and have as its theme "The Culture of Legality and Multi-Religious Society".

Participating in today's press conference were Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Bishop Antonino Raspanti of Acireale; Bishop Carmelo Cuttitta, auxiliary and vicar general of Palermo; Giusto Sciacchitano, anti-Mafia prosecutor, and Fr. Jean-Marie Laurent Mazas F.S.J., executive director of the Courtyard of the Gentiles.

Following Bologna, Paris, Bucharest, Florence, Rome and Tirana, the Courtyard of the Gentiles is moving to Sicily where, according to a note released by the Holy See Press Office, believers and non believers face "a crucial challenge: responding with a culture of dialogue and legality, rooted in the great multi-religious and multi-cultural tradition of Sicily, to the non-culture of organised crime, and opening bridges of dialogue with the reawakening which is stirring Arab society on the south-eastern shore of the Mediterranean. Palermo is the ideal place to do this, because of its dual nature as the historical meeting point of cultures and religions, and as the original 'cradle' of the Mafia while at the same time being symbolic of the struggle against the Mafia (it was there that the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime was signed in 2000).

The event will begin in the cathedral of Monreale on 29 March with a talk by Cardinal Ravasi on "Society, Culture and Faith". "The presence of the 'Courtyard' in Sicily", Cardinal Ravasi has declared, "is an expression of the desire to officially relaunch the Church’s commitment against illegality and any degeneration of the law". On 30 March the "Courtyard" will move on to the University of Palermo where philosophers, religious, jurists, historians and intellectuals will discuss "divine law and human justice", "religion and human rights", "pluralism and universalism" and "religions and public space". Speakers will include Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the philosopher Remi Brague and the historian of the Mafia Salvatore Lupo. That evening in the cathedral of Palermo, Cardinal Ravasi, anti-Mafia prosecutor Piero Grasso, young people of the anti-Mafia association "Addiopizzo" and Cardinal Paolo Romeo, archbishop of Palermo will participate in an open meeting with citizens of Sicily to reaffirm the popular and everyday character of the commitment to dialogue and legality.

Other aspects of the initiative include a "Narrative Courtyard" for university students, to be held on 29 March in the Palermo branch of LUMSA University, and a "Courtyard of Children" for local boys and girls, to be held in front of Palermo cathedral on the evening of 30 March.


Holy See's Address to UN on Arms Trade Treaty
The Treaty Should Aim for the "Disarming of the International Illicit Market"

NEW YORK, FEB. 17, 2012 - Here is the text of the address delivered Monday by Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the Holy See's permanent observer at the United Nations, to the committee for the U.N. Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty.

* * *

Mr. Chairman,

It pleases me to express to you at the outset the full collaboration of my delegation for a productive outcome to the efforts of the last session of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

With other States and the various actors of the international community, the Holy See shares the view that the principal objective of the Treaty should not be merely the regulation of the conventional arms trade but should be, above all, the disarming of the international illicit market.

An unregulated and non-transparent arms trade due to the absence on the international level of effective monitoring systems causes a series of humanitarian consequences: integral human development is retarded, the risk of instability and conflict is heightened, the process of peace is placed at risk and the spread of a culture of violence and criminality is facilitated. Responsible action, shared by all the members of the international community, is necessary to resolve such problematic realities. This includes States and international organisations, NGOs and the private sector. Such responsible action has become ever more urgent "in order to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources" (cfr. Art. 26 of the UN Charter).

Moreover, arms cannot simply be compared with other goods exchanged in global or domestic markets. The quest for a world more respectful of the dignity of human person and the value of human life must be the founding principle of the ATT.

Viewed from this perspective, the international community requires a strong, effective and credible legal instrument that is capable of regulating and improving transparency in the trade of conventional arms and munitions, including the trading and licensing of technologies for their production.

In order to guarantee this, my delegation is of the view that it is necessary to take into consideration five aspects:

1. The scope of the ATT should be broad, comprising not solely the 7 categories of arms which the U.N. Register of Conventional Arms considers, but also small arms and light weapons, together with their relevant munitions, which enter the illict market often with greater ease and give rise to a series of humanitarian problems.

2 The criteria for application of the Treaty must maintain reference to human rights, humanitarian law and development. These are the three areas in which the impact of the illicit market in arms is particularly pernicious. Certainly, it will be necessary to find terminology which limits subjective possibilities open to political abuse, and which will facilitate the ascertainment of modalities for application of such criteria.

3 The capacity for the success of the Treaty will depend also on its ability to promote and reinforce international co-operation and assistance between States. This encompasses basic elements for improving relationships of trust between States as well as facilitating a correct implementation even on the part of States without sufficient capacity to assemble and maintain data, prepare Reports, and improve transparency in the arms trade, all of central importance for the effectiveness of the Treaty.

4. Provisions relating to assistance for victims must be maintained, and if possible, strengthened, giving attention also to the prevention of illicit arms proliferation, by reducing the demand for arms which often feeds the illicit market. It seems opportune, from this perspective, then, to introduce references in the Treaty to educative processes and public awareness programmes – involving all sectors of society, including religious organisations – that are aimed at promoting a culture of peace.

5. Mechanisms for treaty review and updating need to be strong and credible, capable of quickly incorporating new developments in the subject matter of the ATT, which must remain open to future technological developments.

Mr. Chairman,

The Holy See is convinced that the Arms Trade Treaty can provide an important contribution to the promotion of a true culture of peace through responsible cooperation between States, in partnership with the arms industry and in solidarity with civil society. Viewed in this light, current efforts to adopt a strong and effective ATT could represent a meaningful sign of the political will of nations and governments to ensure peace, justice, stability and prosperity in the world.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Vatican Message for World Leprosy Day
Seeking the Transformation of Leprosy From a Threat to a Memory

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 27, 2012 - Here is a message from Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, for the 59th World Leprosy Day, which will be marked Sunday.

The message is titled: "In the Fight Against Hansen's Disease the Commitment of All Men of Good Will in Required."

* * *

People treated for, and cured of, leprosy can, and must, express all of the riches of their dignity and spirituality, as well as full solidarity towards others, above all those who have been equally afflicted and have been marked indelibly by this infection! All the forces involved in the fight against Hansen’s disease must at the same time continue their work tenaciously so that the successes that have been obtained are made definitive and always improved, reducing as much as possible relapses and new cases.

Mycobacterium Leprae, in fact, has not as yet been eradicated, even though the official number of new cases of the infection continues to decrease and at the present time are about 200,000, according to the estimates of the World Health Organisation for the years 2010-2011. In addition to supporting the free distribution of those drugs and medicines that are required, one should, therefore, further promote speedy diagnosis and perseverance in receiving therapies. It is of fundamental importance, furthermore, that the work directed towards sensitising and training communities and families that run the risk of contagion be strengthened.

The gospel phrase ‘Stand and go; your faith has saved you’ (Lk 17:19), chosen by the Holy Father Benedict XVI as the theme for the twentieth World Day of the Sick which will be held on 11 February of this year throughout the world, constitutes an exploration and a call that touches in a particular way those who have been afflicted by this infection; in this passage from St. Luke, indeed, we are told about ten lepers who were healed by Jesus, readmitted to the community and reintegrated into the social and occupational fabric.

As is emphasised by the Holy Father in his Message for this year, ‘help us to become aware of the importance of faith for those who, burdened by suffering and illness, draw near to the Lord. In their encounter with him they can truly experience that he who believes is never alone! God, indeed, in his Son, does not abandon us to our anguish and sufferings, but is close to us, helps us to bear them, and wishes to heal us in the depths of our hearts (cf. Mk 2:1-12).

The faith of the lone leper who, on seeing that he was healed, full of amazement and joy, and unlike the others, immediately went back to Jesus to express his gratitude, enables us to perceive that reacquired health is a sign of something more precious than mere physical healing, it is a sign of the salvation that God gives us through Christ; it finds expression in the words of Jesus: your faith has saved you. He who in suffering and illness prays to the Lord is certain that God's love will never abandon him, and also that the love of the Church, the extension in time of the Lord's saving work, will never fail’.

This love, which is also expressed through individual action and through Church institutions and volunteer organisations, amongst which the Raoul Follereau Foundation and the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta, as well as the successes that have been obtained hitherto in terms of a strong reduction in the number of people infected by this disease, certainly do not exempt governments and international organisations from increasing the attention they pay to, and their work to combat, the spread of leprosy, or from their responsibilities as regards prevention, in educational and hygiene/health-care terms, and the ‘readmission’ of people who have been cured, as well as support for all the victims of infection.

On the other hand, those who have been cured and have followed the difficult pathway of social reintegration can communicate their gratitude in a practical way as well, becoming themselves witnesses, contributing to the dissemination of the criteria of prevention and the swift identification of this disease, as well as providing moral support for those people who have been infected; and, where possible, in addition, cooperating with institutions and ad hoc initiatives so that the necessary therapies are completed and then followed by the social reintegration of those who have been cured. Those who have attained a cure can in this way communicate all their interior riches and experience and at the same time, in helping their neighbour, all their dignity and profundity as people touched by suffering and involved in working for the health of the community to which they belong.

This will amount to a further and relevant contribution to progress in the fight against Hansen’s disease which for millennia has constituted a terrible scourge and involved automatic exclusion from society. Indeed, only the involvement of everyone – and at all levels – will allow the transformation of leprosy from being a threat and a scourge into being a memory, however frightening, of the past.

To Mary, Mother of Mercy and Health of the Sick, we entrust our brothers and sisters who are afflicted by leprosy so that her maternal compassion and nearness may accompany them always, in the daily events of life as well.


Prelate's Address on the Holy See as Member of the International Organization for Migration
"The Ethical Implications of the Current Situation Seem to Require a Renewed Discussion"

GENEVA, Switzerland, DEC. 9, 2011 - Here is the text of an address given Monday by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva, regarding the Holy See becoming a member State of the International Organization for Migration (IOM-OIM).

The Holy See's request was accepted by the Geneva-based institution in the course of its recent plenary. The OIM was established in 1951 and bases its activities on the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits both migrants and society. It has 130 member States and around 100 observers, including States and non-governmental organizations.

* * *

Mr President,

Allow me to express a word of appreciation for the decision, just taken, to admit the Holy See as a Member of the IOM. Around the globe, the movement of people who are looking for work or survival from famine, conflicts and the violation of their basic human rights continues to increase. Thus, the responsibility of the international community to respond in an effective and humane way becomes more evident and more urgent. As it marks its 60th Anniversary, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) can celebrate a record of great service to displaced people and of collaboration with States and with civil society organizations in finding realistic solutions without compromising on basic principles of protection and respect for human rights. Through its membership in the Organization the Holy See intends to support this tradition in accord with its specific nature, principles and norms. In particular, I would like to highlight three points:

1. Rather than decreasing their numbers the present economic crisis further complicates the life of uprooted people, and it raises a challenging question of how to provide security, not just to States, but also to migrants. From the perspective of this Delegation, the ethical implications of the current situation seem to require a renewed discussion on how to prevent the deaths and respond to the staggering trauma of people attempting to escape from their countries across the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the desert of Arizona, or transit countries like Egypt and the Sinai peninsula or Indonesia toward Australia, and the list goes on. Today the ethical dimension of population movements should take its place along other major concerns such as their effect on development, on national identity, on the evolution of democracy. When the dignity of the human person and the right to life are at stake, these values should take priority. In this difficult area of reflection and of balancing of rights, this Delegation will try to contribute its part.

2. The experience of Catholic agencies and associations in Geneva and on the ground worldwide, for example of the International Catholic Migration Commission and the many national Caritas organizations, is well established and extensive. By providing assistance to displaced people in camps and urban settings, by coordinatinge; resettlement operations, and by devising integration programs, these agencies and associations have gained invaluable experience and delivered effective service that has enabled thousands of families and individuals to start a new life and to become constructive partners in the host societies. For this reason, operational collaboration appears an important and even necessary way to facilitatee; the convergence of all available energies in order to help uprooted people of all kinds through joint or delegated programs and through regular sharing of information.

3. A third observation regards the distinct features of the services provided by Catholic agencies and associations around the world. This response is dictated by the needs of the person without distinction of race, colour, religious belief or lack of it, and it embraces everyone in a truly comprehensive manner. In fact, the deep conviction that prompts involvement and action in helping all uprooted people is based in the belief of the unique dignity and common belonging to the same human family of every human person, that is antecedent to any cultural, religious, social, political or other consideration. This disinterested service values the accompaniment of uprooted persons and combines professional care with generous love and results in greater efficiency and long term benefits. Thus it seems only right that public authorities acknowledge this contribution and, in a genuine sense of democracy, make room for conscience-based service that, in turn, becomes a guarantee of freedom for everyone.

In conclusion, Mr. President, the participation of the Holy See as a Member of the IOM is a commitment to collaboration and support in the common search of solutions and assistance to people caught up in this major phenomenon of our globalized world and in need of a friendly hand to make them protagonists of their future and active partners in their adoptive societies and in the world.


Holy See on Main Challenges Facing the Family of Nations
Humanitarian Emergencies, Religious Freedom, Economic Crisis and More

NEW YORK, SEPT. 30, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address given on Tuesday by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the secretary for Relations with States in the Vatican Secretariat of State, at the 66th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

* * *

Mr. President:

On behalf of the Holy See, I have the pleasure to congratulate you on your election to the presidency of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly, and to assure you of the full and sincere collaboration of the Holy See. My congratulations are extended also to the Secretary General, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon who, during this period of sessions, on Jan. 1, 2012, will begin his second mandate. I would also like to greet cordially the Delegation of Southern Sudan, which became the 193rd member country of the Organization last July.

Mr. President:

Every year, the general debate offers the occasion to share and address the principal questions that concern humanity in search of a better future for all. The challenges posed to the international community are numerous and difficult. Yet they increasingly bring to light the existing profound interdependence within the "family of nations," which sees in the U.N. an important instrument, despite its limitations, in the identification and implementation of solutions to the main international problems. In this context, without wishing to be exhaustive, my Delegation wishes to pause on the priority challenges, so that the concept of "family of nations" will become increasingly concrete.

The first challenge is of a humanitarian order. It exhorts the whole international community, or rather, the "family of nations," to look after its weakest members. In certain parts of the world, such as the Horn of Africa, we are, unfortunately, in the presence of grave and tragic humanitarian emergencies which cause the exodus of millions of people, the majority women and children, with a high number of victims of drought, famine and malnutrition. The Holy See wishes to renew its appeal to the international community, expressed many times by Pope Benedict XVI, to amplify and support humanitarian policies in those areas and to influence concretely the different causes that increase its vulnerability.

These humanitarian emergencies lead to stressing the need to find innovative ways to put to work the principle of responsibility to protect, on whose foundation lies the recognition of the unity of the human family and attention to the innate dignity of every man and every woman. As is known, this principle makes reference to the responsibility of the international community to intervene in situations in which governments can no longer cope on their own or no longer wish to comply with the first duty incumbent upon them to protect their populations against grave violations of human rights, as well as anticipating the consequences of humanitarian crises. If States are no longer capable of guaranteeing this protection, the international community must intervene with the juridical means foreseen in the United Nations Charter and by other international instruments.

However, it must be recalled that the risk exists that the said principle might be invoked in certain circumstances as a reason to use military force. It is good to recall that the very use of force, in keeping with the United Nations rules, should be a solution limited in time, a measure of real urgency which should be accompanied and followed by a concrete commitment to pacification.

Consequently, to respond to the challenge of the "responsibility to protect," it is necessary that there be a more profound search for the means to prevent and to manage conflicts, exploring all the possible diplomatic avenues through negotiation and constructive dialogue, paying attention to and encouraging the weakest signs of dialogue or of the desire for reconciliation on the part of the parties involved.

The responsibility to protect must be understood not only in terms of military intervention, which should always be the last recourse, but, above all, as an imperative for the international community to be united before the crisis and to create agencies for correct and sincere negotiations, to support the moral force of law, to seek the common good and to incite governments, civil society and public opinion to identify the causes and to offer solutions to crises of all kinds, acting in close collaboration and solidarity with the affected populations and placing above all, the integrity and security of all the citizens. Hence it is important that the responsibility to protect, understood in this sense, is the criterion and motivation that underlies all the work of the States and of the United Nations Organization to restore peace, security and the rights of man. Moreover, the long and generally successful history of the peacekeeping operations and the most recent initiatives of peace-building can offer valuable experiences to conceive models to actuate the responsibility to protect, in full respect of international law and of the legitimate interests of all the parties involved.

Mr. President:

Respect for religious liberty is the fundamental path for peace building, the recognition of human dignity and the safeguarding of the rights of man. This is the second challenge, on which I would like to pause. Situations in which the right of religious liberty is injured or denied to believers of the different religions, are unfortunately numerous; observed is an increase of intolerance for religious reasons, and unfortunately, one sees that Christians are at present the religious group that suffers the greatest number of persecutions because of their faith. The lack of respect of religious liberty is a threat to security and peace and impedes the realization of authentic integral human development. The particular weight of a specific religion in a nation should never imply that citizens belonging to other confessions are discriminated against in social life or, worse still, that violence against them is tolerated. In this connection, it is important that a common commitment to recognize and promote the religious liberty of every person and every community is favored by sincere interreligious dialogue and supported by governments and international agencies. I renew to the authorities and to religious leaders the concerned appeal of the Holy See, so that effective measures are adopted for the protection of religious minorities, wherever they are threatened in order that, above all, believers of all confessions can live in security and continue making their contribution to the society of which they are members. Thinking of the situation in certain countries, I would like to repeat, in particular, that Christians are citizens with the same right as others, connected to their homeland and faithful to all their national duties. It is natural that they should enjoy all the rights of citizenship, of liberty of conscience and worship, of liberty in the field of teaching and education and in the use of the media.

Moreover, there are countries in which, although great importance is given to pluralism and tolerance, paradoxically, religion tends to be considered as a factor foreign to modern society or considered as destabilizing, seeking through different means to marginalize it and impeding it from influencing social life. But how can the contribution be denied of the great religions of the world to the development of civilization? As Pope Benedict XVI stressed, the sincere search for God has led to greater respect of man's dignity. For example, the Christian communities, with their patrimonies of values and principles, have contributed strongly to individuals' and peoples' awareness of their identity and dignity, as well as to the triumph of the institutions of the State of law and to the affirmation of the rights of man and of his corresponding duties.

In this perspective, it is important that believers, today as yesterday, feel free to offer their contribution to the promotion of the just regulation of human realities, not only through a responsible commitment at the civil, economic and political level, but also through the witness of their charity and faith.

A third challenge on which the Holy See would like to call the attention of this assembly concerns the prolongation of the global economic and financial crisis. We all know that a fundamental element of the present crisis is the ethical deficit of economic structures. Ethics is not an external element of the economy and the economy does not have a future if it does not take into account the moral element: in other words, the ethical dimension is fundamental to address the economic problems. The economy not only functions through a self-regulation of the market and much less so through agreements that are limited to reconcile the interests of the most powerful; it has need of an ethical reason to function at the service of man. The idea of producing resources and goods, namely, the economy, and of managing them in a strategic way, namely political, without trying to do good through the same actions, that is, without ethics, becomes a naïve and cynical illusion, always fatal. In fact, every economic decision has a moral consequence. The economy needs ethics to function correctly, not just of any ethic, but of an ethic centered on the person and able to offer prospects to the new generations. Economic and commercial activities oriented to development should be able to make poverty diminish effectively and to alleviate the sufferings of the most unprotected. In this connection, the Holy See encourages the reinforcement of public aid to development, in keeping with the commitments assumed at Gleneagles. And my Delegation has the hope that the discussions on this topic, in view of the forthcoming high-level talks on the "Financing of Development," will bring the expected results. Moreover, the Holy See has stressed on several occasions the importance of a new and profound reflection on the meaning of the economy and its objectives, as well as a far-sighted revision of the global financial and commercial architecture to correct the problems of functioning and the distortions. This revision of the international economic rules must be integrated in the framework of the elaboration of a new global model of development. In reality, it is exacted by the planet's ecological state of health, and required above all by the cultural and moral crisis of man, whose symptoms have been evident everywhere for a long time.

This reflection should also inspire the working sessions of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) of the forthcoming month of June, with the conviction that "the human being must be the center of the concerns for sustainable development," as it is affirmed in the first principle of the 1992 Rio Declaration on the environment and development. The sense of responsibility and the safeguarding of the environment should be guided by the awareness of being a "family of nations." The idea of "family" evokes immediately something more than simply functional relations or simple convergence of interests.

By its nature a family is a community based on interdependence, on trust and mutual aid, in sincere respect. Its full development is based not on the supremacy of the strongest, but on attention to the weakest and marginalized, and its responsibility is enlarged to the future generations. Respect for development should make us more attentive to the needs of the most underprivileged peoples; it should create a strategy in favor of a development centered on persons, fostering solidarity and the responsibility of all, including future generations.

This strategy must benefit from the UN Conference to analyze the Treaty on Arms Trade, planned for 2012. Arms trade that is not regulated or transparent has important negative repercussions. It stops integral human development, increases the risk of conflicts, especially internal ones, and of instability, and promotes a culture of violence and impunity, often linked to criminal activities, such as drug trafficking, the traffic in human beings and piracy, which are ever more serious international problems. The results of the present process of the Treaty on Arms Trade will be a test to measure the real will of States to assume their moral and juridical responsibility in this field. The international community must endeavor to reach a Treaty for the Arms Trade that is effective and applicable, conscious of the great number of people that are affected by the illegal trade of arms and munitions, as well as of their sufferings. In fact, the main objective of the Treaty should not only be the regulation of the trade of conventional arms or become an obstacle of the black market, but also and above all it should have as objective to protect human life and build a world more respectful of human dignity.

Mr. President:

Your contribution to the building of a world more respectful of human dignity will demonstrate the effective capacity of the UN to fulfill its mission, whose objective is to help the "family of nations" and to pursue common objectives of peace, security, and an integral human development for all.

The Holy See's concern is also directed to the events taking place in some countries of North Africa and the Middle East.

I would like to renew here the appeal of the Holy Father Benedict XVI so that all citizens, in particular young people, do everything possible to promote the common good and to build societies in which poverty is overcome and in which every political option is inspired in respect of the human person; societies in which peace and concord will triumph over division, hatred and violence.

A last observation concerns the request for recognition of Palestine as a member State of the United Nations, presented here on September 23 by the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas. The Holy See considers this initiative in the perspective of the attempts to find a definitive solution, with the support of the international community, to the question already addressed by Resolution 181 of the United Nations General Assembly, dated November 29, 1947. This fundamental document lays the juridical basis for the existence of two States. One of them was already created, while the other has yet to be constituted, despite the fact that almost sixty-four years have passed. The Holy See is convinced that, if one wants peace, one must be able to adopt courageous decisions. It is necessary that the competent organs of the United Nations make a decision that helps to get underway effectively the final objective, namely, the realization of the right of Palestinians to have their own independent and sovereign State, and the right of Israelis to security, both States being provided with borders that are recognized internationally.

The answer of the United Nations, whatever it is, will not be a complete solution, and a lasting peace will only be achieved through negotiations in good faith between Israelis and Palestinians avoiding actions or conditions that contradict the statements of good will. Consequently, the Holy See exhorts the parties to return to negotiations with determination and makes an urgent appeal to the international community to increase its commitment and stimulate its creativity and initiatives, so that a lasting peace is reached, in respect of the rights of Israelis and Palestinians.

Thank you, Mr. President


Holy See's Address at Summit on Religious Freedom
"Hate Crimes Against Christians Are an Area of Particular Concern"

ROME, SEPT. 13, 2011 - Here is the address that Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, delivered at the summit of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, held on Monday in Rome. The OSCE was considering discrimination against Christians.

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Mr Chairman,

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Holy See is grateful to the OSCE Lithuanian Chairmanship, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the Italian Government, the City of Rome and all those who have contributed to the organization of this meeting. The Holy See is a participating State of OSCE since its inception in 1975 and seeks to contribute vigorously to OSCE activities and projects both through direct participation and through its Permanent Mission in Vienna. In May of this year, the three Personal Representatives of the Chairman-in-Office for combating intolerance and discrimination conducted their first visit to the Vatican, an event which further highlighted the continuous cooperation between OSCE and the Holy See.

A main reason for this Round Table Discussion is the fact that the guarantee of religious freedom has always been, and still is, at the core of OSCE activities. Ever since it was enshrined in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, and reaffirmed in no uncertain terms in subsequent documents, among which the 1989 Vienna Concluding Document and the 1990 Document of the Copenhagen Meeting on the Human Dimension of the then CSCE, the safeguarding of religious liberty has continued to occupy a central place in the comprehensive approach of OSCE to security issues.

It is in this context that hate crimes against Christians are an area of particular concern for OSCE in general, and for the Holy See in particular. In his 2011 Message for the World Day of Peace, Pope Benedict XVI pointed out that "at present, Christians are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith. Many Christians experience daily affronts and often live in fear because of their pursuit of truth, their faith in Jesus Christ and their heartfelt plea for respect for religious freedom. This situation is unacceptable, since it represents an insult to God and to human dignity; furthermore, it is a threat to security and peace, and an obstacle to the achievement of authentic and integral human development".

One may contend, and rightly so, that most of the hate crimes against Christians in the world occur outside the OSCE area. There are, however, warning signs even within that area. The annual hate crime report of ODIHR provides irrefutable proof of a growing intolerance against Christians. Ignoring this well-documented fact sends a negative signal also to those countries that are not participating States of our Organization. It is, therefore, important that a renewed awareness of the problem be raised everywhere. This is why the Holy See welcomes the Resolution of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly adopted this year in Belgrade as an important step towards "initiat[ing] a public debate on intolerance and discrimination against Christians", as stated in the document. Hopefully, concrete measures will be developed to combat intolerance against Christians as a follow-up of this Conference.

In order to prevent hate crimes from occurring, it is essential to promote and consolidate religious liberty, the concept of which must be clear from the outset. In his address of January 10, 2011, to the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, the Holy Father argued that religious liberty is "the first of human rights, not only because it was historically the first to be recognized but also because it touches the constitutive dimension of man, his relation with his Creator". He also noted that today, in many regions of the world, religious liberty is "often called into question or violated" and that "society, its leaders and public opinion are becoming more and more aware, even if not always in a clear way, of this grave attack on the dignity and freedom of homo religiosus".

On the basis of such premises, it follows that religious freedom cannot be restricted to the simple freedom of worship, although the latter is obviously an important part of it. With due respect to the rights of all, religious freedom includes, among others, the right to preach, educate, convert, contribute to the political discourse and participate fully in public activities.

Nor is true religious liberty synonymous with relativism or with the post-modern idea that religion is a marginal component of public life. Pope Benedict XVI has often underscored the danger of a radical secularism that relegates,a priori, all kinds of religious manifestations to the private sphere. Relativism and secularism deny two fundamental aspects of the religious phenomenon, and hence of the right to religious freedom, that call for respect: the transcendental and the social dimensions of religion in which the human person seeks to be related, according to the dictates of his conscience, to the reality, so to say, above and around him. Religion is more than just a private opinion or Weltanschauung. It always has an impact on society and its moral principles.

As I pointed out earlier, when we discuss denial of religious freedom and its connection with hate crimes, normally the violent persecutions of Christian minorities in some parts of the world come to mind. The Holy See is grateful to OSCE and to its individual participating States which are particularly active in denouncing the murder or imprisonment of innocent citizens that are killed or persecuted just because they believe in Christ. On the other hand, if it is true that the risk of hate crimes is connected to the denial of religious liberty, we should not forget that there are serious problems even in areas of the world where fortunately there is no violent persecution of Christians. Sadly, acts motivated by bias against Christians are fast becoming a reality also in those countries where they constitute a majority.

Pope Benedict referred to this phenomenon in the same speech of January last to the Diplomatic Corps, when he said that - and I quote - "turning our gaze from East to West, we find ourselves faced with other kinds of threats to the full exercise of religious freedom. I think in the first place of countries which accord great importance to pluralism and tolerance, but where religion is increasingly being marginalized. There is a tendency to consider religion, all religion, as something insignificant, alien or even destabilizing to modern society, and to attempt by different means to prevent it from having any influence on the life of society".

Of course, nobody would confuse or equate this marginalization of religion with the actual persecution and killing of Christians in other areas of the world. This conference, however, will no doubt help to shed light on the incidence of hate crimes against Christians even in regions where international public opinion would not normally expect them to happen. For hate crimes almost invariably feed on an environment where religious freedom is not fully respected and religion is discriminated against.

In the OSCE region, we are largely blessed with a consensus on the importance of religious liberty. This is why it is important that we continue our conversation on the substance of religious liberty, on its fundamental connection with the idea of truth, and on the difference between religious freedom and relativism that merely tolerates religion while considering it with some degree of hostility. Again I quote from the 2011 Message for the World Day of Peace: "Religious freedom -- the Holy Father said -- should be understood, then, not merely as immunity from coercion, but even more fundamentally as an ability to order one’s own choices in accordance with truth. […] A freedom which is hostile or indifferent to God becomes self-negating and does not guarantee full respect for others. A will which believes itself radically incapable of seeking truth and goodness has no objective reasons or motives for acting save those imposed by its fleeting and contingent interests; it does not have an ‘identity’ to safeguard and build up through truly free and conscious decisions. As a result, it cannot demand respect from other ‘wills’, which are themselves detached from their own deepest being and thus capable of imposing other ‘reasons’ or, for that matter, no ‘reason’ at all. The illusion that moral relativism provides the key for peaceful coexistence is actually the origin of divisions and the denial of the dignity of human beings".

Precisely this vision which identifies freedom with relativism or militant agnosticism, and which casts doubt on the possibility of ever knowing the truth, could be an underlying factor in the increased occurrence of those hate incidents and crimes which will be the object of our debate today. May this Round Table Discussion – and I hope there will be similar events on a regular basis – give a new input to the work of OSCE and ODIHR in the field.

Thank you.

September 14, 2011


Holy See on the Rights of Youth
"Each and Every Child ... Should Grow Up in a Family Environment"

NEW YORK, JULY 28, 2011 - Here is the text of a statement given today by Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations. He addressed the high-level meeting on youth.

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Mr. President,

Fifty years ago the United Nations first recognized the specific contribution of young people when it adopted the Declaration on the Promotion of Youth of the Ideals of Peace, Mutual Respect and Understanding between Peoples (A/RES/20/2037), in which the General Assembly affirmed important principles to help guide the work of Governments, non-governmental organizations and youth movements to this very day. The Declaration affirmed that all young people should be brought up in the spirit of peace, justice, freedom, mutual respect and understanding in order to promote equal rights for all persons and all nations, economic and social progress, disarmament and the maintenance of international peace and security. Young people are the future of humanity and they have a crucial role to play in its future as they enter into adulthood. To do so responsibly, they need a proper education that enables them to distinguish between right and wrong, virtue and vice.

Mr. President,

Last year, the General Assembly, in having declared the present International Year of Youth, insightfully drew attention to two important elements for the advancement of peace, namely, dialogue and mutual understanding (A/RES/64/134). This theme has been an invitation to listen to the aspirations and interests of young people, to engage in a mutual exchange with them and to translate these exchanges into a real sharing of wisdom for the common good. The pursuit of the common good helps the human family to live in a virtuous manner.

Many young people experience a deep desire for personal relationships marked by truth and solidarity. Many of the young yearn to build authentic friendships, to know true love, to start a family that will remain united and to achieve personal fulfillment and real security, all of which promise a serene and happy future. The Member States of the United Nations have the responsibility to help young people in this regard by upholding in principle and in fact the Charter of this Organization.

Mr. President,

Each and every young person should be able to be brought up in an environment in which he or she is able to grow and learn, that is, in a community and society characterized by peace and harmony, free from all violence and discord. Each and every child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding (cf., Convention on the Rights of the Child, Preamble). It is precisely this environment which will promote good and responsible citizenship that is essential to the common good of humanity.

The family is where young people first learn moral responsibility and respect for others. The family has an important role to play in educating children to develop all their faculties and in training them to acquire ethical and spiritual values and to be deeply attached to peace, liberty and the dignity and equality of all men and women. The family, founded on the marriage between one man and one woman, is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and must be guaranteed protection by society and the State (cf., Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 16,3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Art. 23,1).

Mr. President,

Parents -- mother and father together -- have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of their children to help them become virtuous citizens and leaders. Parents cannot withdraw from this essential role. States are called, in conformity with international instruments, to respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents in this regard (cf., CRC, Articles 5 and 18,1). Youth policies, programmes, action plans and commitments approved by Member States must respect fully the role of parents regarding their children's wellbeing and their education, including in the area of human sexuality and so-called "sexual and reproductive health", that should not include abortion.

Mr. President,

The outcome document of this High-level Plenary Meeting gives attention to the elimination of all forms of violence against youth, to promoting their health and well-being, to protecting the rights of all young migrants, to improving the quality of education and ensuring universal access to education for all youth, and to addressing the importance of decent work for young people. Member States have an important responsibility to help facilitate integral human development so that children and young people everywhere will be provided with the opportunity to realize their great potential which includes their personal prosperity and that of all with whom they share this planet. For this to happen, the rights of children and young people must be safeguarded and upheld in full conformity with the norms of the natural moral order.

Mr. President,

Many people in the world today do not have stable points of reference on which to build their lives and so they end up being deeply insecure. There is a growing mentality of relativism, which holds that everything is equally valid, that truth and absolute points of reference do not exist. Such a way of thinking does not lead to authentic freedom, but rather to instability, confusion and blind conformity to the fads of the moment with which certain cultures around the world tempt our youth. Young people are entitled to receive from previous generations solid points of reference to help them make choices on which to build their lives. The Madrid World Youth Day 2011, convening in just a few weeks and bringing together the largest gathering of young people from around the world, will provide an opportunity for them to celebrate and foster the importance of the spiritual dimension of their lives rooted in the truth of the human person (cf., Message of Pope Benedict XVI for the Twenty-Sixth World Youth Day 2011).

Member States and this organization can make positive contributions in this regard and so must be willing to recommit continually to upholding and implementing the principles enshrined in the Charter and the internationally agreed foundational human rights instruments. The more they are able to do this, the more our youth will be able to help advance the cause of peace, supported by their families, and build societies based on respect for spiritual and ethical values and directed to the common good of all.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Holy See Statement to UN Arms Trade Meeting
"The Illicit Trade of Weapons and Ammunition Has Led to Human Suffering"

NEW YORK, JULY 24, 2011- Here is the statement of the Holy See Mission to the United Nations to the Third Preparatory Committee for the U.N. Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, which took place July 11-15 in New York.

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1. In 2006, the General Assembly of the United Nations requested countries to submit their views on the drafting of a Treaty on arms trade. More than 100 countries presented their views, which were collected in a 2007 report by the Secretary-General on the issue. Successively, in 2008 a Group of Governmental Experts produced a second report on the topic.

At the end of 2009 the General Assembly decided to convene a Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in 2012 "to elaborate a legally binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms". The General Assembly also indicated that four sessions of the Open-ended Working Group will be held as Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) sessions in preparation for the Conference. The first PrepCom took place in July 2010. In 2011, two other PrepComs were held: 28 February-4 March and 11-15 July. A fourth PrepCom is scheduled for 13-17 February 2012, before the expected adoption of the Treaty by the Conference.

2. In many parts of the world, the illicit trade of weapons and ammunition has led to human suffering, internal conflicts, civil unrest, human rights violations, humanitarian crises, crime, violence and terror. In fact, the international community is confronted with irresponsible arms deals in several places around the globe. Although an eclectic set of national and regional control measures on arms transfers exists, the global trade in conventional weapons – from warships and battle tanks to fighter jets and machine guns – remains unregulated in the absence of a set of internationally-agreed standards. Therefore, the Holy See has participated in the negotiations on the Treaty from the very beginning.

3. The Holy See recognizes the great importance of the current ATT process as it addresses in particular the grave human cost resulting from the illicit trade in arms. Non-regulated and non-transparent arms trading and the absence of effective monitoring systems for arms trading at the international level cause serious humanitarian consequences, slow down integral human development, undermine the rule of law, increase conflicts and instability around the globe, endanger peace-building processes in various countries and spawn a culture of violence and impunity. Here we should always bear in mind the grave repercussions of illicit trade in arms on peace, development, human rights and the humanitarian situation, especially the deep impact it leaves on women and children. These issues can be effectively solved only through the common sharing of responsibilities by all members of the international community.

4. Conventional arms and weapons, small or light, should not be regarded as any other kind of merchandise that is put on sale in global, regional or national markets. Their production, trade and possession have ethical and social implications. They need to be regulated in accordance with specific principles of the moral and legal order. Every effort is required to prevent the proliferation of all types of weapons which encourage local wars and urban violence and kill too many people in the world every day. Hence, the urgency for the adoption of a legal instrument, which the Holy See fully supports, with legally binding measures on trade control for conventional weapons and munitions on the global, regional and national levels.

5. The international community needs a strong, credible, effective and concrete legal instrument so as to improve transparency in arms trade, promote the adoption of common criteria for arms trade control and establish a binding legal framework for regulating the trade of conventional weapons and munitions as well as the trading and licensing of technologies for their production.

6. The outcome of the current ATT process will put to test the political will and the credible willingness of States to assume their moral and legal responsibility in order to strengthen further the international regime on the existing unregulated arms trade. Focusing on the magnitude of those affected and those suffering from the scourge of the illicit spread of arms and munitions should challenge the international community to achieve an effective and enforceable Arms Trade Treaty. Exporting and importing States should put in force obligatory, transparent, verifiable and universal regulatory norms and mechanisms to curb the illegal arms trade by applying effective record-keeping and reporting systems through efficient international assistance and cooperation and improved trust-based relationships among States. Exporting and importing States have also an important role to play by precluding any potential for corruption and by monitoring compliance with international trade rules by arms industries and arms brokers.

7. To achieve a strong, effective and comprehensive ATT, the international community should not neglect the importance of victim assistance and compensation. The main objective of an ATT must be to safeguard human life and to build a world more respectful of human dignity, not just to regulate the illicit trade in arms. An ATT must also challenge the approach of "business as usual" which has provided for continuing violations of civilian immunity in conflict situations. Acting responsibly means promoting a real culture of peace and life. In this vein, it is also important to promote education in peace and public awareness programmes involving all sectors of our society, including religious organizations.

8. The Holy See is convinced that an Arms Trade Treaty can make an important contribution to the promotion of a true global culture of peace through responsible cooperation of States, in partnership and solidarity with the arms industry and in solidarity with civil society. In this perspective, the current efforts to adopt an Arms Trade Treaty could indeed become an auspicious sign of a much needed political will of nations and governments to ensure greater peace, justice, stability and prosperity in the world.

9. As Pope Benedict XVI stated: "The time has come to change the course of history, to recover trust, to cultivate dialogue, to nourish solidarity. These are the noble objectives that inspired the founders of the United Nations Organization, a real experience of friendship among peoples. Humanity's future depends on everyone's commitment. Only by following an integral and supportive humanism in whose context the question of disarmament takes on an ethical and spiritual nature, will humanity be able to walk towards the desired authentic and lasting peace" (International seminar on "Disarmament, Development and Peace, Prospects for Integral Disarmament", 10 April 2008).


Vatican Spokesman's Statement on Cloyne Report
"A New Stage on the Long and Arduous Journey in Search of Truth"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 20, 2011 - Here is a translation of the statement released Tuesday by Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, on the Report by the Commission of Inquiry into the Diocese of Cloyne. The original statement was released in Italian.

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The Report by the Irish Commission of Inquiry into cases of child abuse committed by clergy in the diocese of Cloyne, published July 13, as with the previous report on the Archdiocese of Dublin, has once again highlighted the gravity of the facts which have occurred, this time in a rather recent period. In fact, the period covered by the new report goes from 1.1.1996 to 1.2.2009.

The Irish authorities have forwarded a copy of the Report to Rome by way of the Nuncio, requesting a response from the Holy See. It is to be expected, therefore, that the Holy See’s response and considerations will be forthcoming in the most appropriate time and manner.

For my part, however, I believe it opportune to say a few words on the Report and how it has been received, while underlining -- as I have already mentioned -- that these considerations do not in any way constitute an official response from the Holy See.

First, it seems only right to recall and renew the intense feelings of grief and condemnation expressed by the Pope during his meeting with the Irish bishops, summoned to the Vatican on December 11, 2009, precisely to deal with the difficult situation of the Church in Ireland in light of the Report into the Archdiocese of Dublin, then recently published. At the time, the Pope openly spoke of his "shock and shame" at the "heinous crimes" committed.

We must also remember that following this meeting, and a subsequent one from February 15 to 16, 2010, the Pope published his well-known and wide-ranging letter to the Catholics of Ireland, the following 19 March, which contains the strongest and most eloquent expressions of his participation in the suffering of victims and their families, as well as a reminder of the terrible responsibility of the guilty and the failures of church leaders in their tasks of government or supervision.

One of the concrete actions that followed the Pope's letter was the Apostolic Visitation of the Church in Ireland, divided into the four visitations of the archdiocese, the seminaries and religious congregations. The results of the visitation are at an advanced stage of study and evaluation.

Therefore it is only right to recognise the Holy See’s decisive commitment in encouraging and effectively supporting the efforts of the Church in Ireland towards the "healing and renewal" necessary to definitively overcome the crisis linked to the dramatic wound of the sexual abuse of minors.

It is also important to recognize the efforts made by the Holy See in the normative field, with the clarification and the revision of the canonical norms concerning the issue of sexual abuse of minors. A milestone in this regard -- as noted -- was the 2001 Motu proprio, which unified all competencies under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and subsequent updates until the promulgation of the reformulated norms in July 2010.

As for the more distant past, in recent days a Letter dated 1997, 14 years ago, has had particular resonance. Mentioned in the new Report, but already published last January, it is a letter addressed by the then Nuncio in Ireland to the Bishops Conference, which emphasises that, according to information received from the Congregation for the Clergy, the document "Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response" lent itself to objections, because it contained aspects that were problematic from the point of view of compatibility with universal canon law. It is only fair to remember that this document was not sent to the Congregation as an official document of the Bishops Conference, but as a "Report of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Advisory Committee on Child Sexual Abuse by Priests and Religious," and that its foreword stated: "This document is far from being the last word on how to address the issues that have been raised". The fact that the Congregation raised objections was therefore understandable and legitimate, taking into account Rome's competence with regard to the laws of the Church, and -- although one can argue about the adequacy of Rome's intervention in relation to the seriousness of the situation in Ireland at the time -- there is no reason to interpret that letter as being intended to cover up cases of abuse. In fact, it warned against the risk that measures were being taken which could later turn out to be questionable or invalid from the canonical point of view, thus defeating the purpose of the effective sanctions proposed by the Irish bishops.

Moreover, there is absolutely nothing in the letter that is an invitation to disregard the laws of the country. During the same period, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, in a meeting with the Irish Bishops stated: "The Church, especially through its pastors, should not in any way put an obstacle in the legitimate path of civil justice ... while, at the same time she should move forward with her own canonical procedures" (Rosses Point, Sligo, 11/12/1998). The objection the letter referred to regarded the obligation to provide information to civil authorities ("mandatory reporting"), it did not object to any civil law to that effect, because it did not exist in Ireland at that time (and proposals to introduce it were subject to discussion for various reasons in the same civil sphere).

Therefore, the severity of certain criticisms of the Vatican are curious, as if the Holy See was guilty of not having given merit under canon law to norms which a State did not consider necessary to give value under civil law. In attributing grave responsibility to the Holy See for what happened in Ireland, such accusations seem to go far beyond what is suggested in the Report itself (which uses a more balanced tone in the attribution of responsibility) and demonstrate little awareness of what the Holy See has actually done over the years to help effectively address the problem.

In conclusion, as stated by several Irish bishops, the publication of the Report on the Diocese of Cloyne marks a new stage on the long and arduous journey in search of truth, penance and purification, of healing and renewal of the Church in Ireland, from which the Holy See does not in any way feel extraneous, but in which it participates in solidarity and with commitment in the various forms that we have outlined here.

[Translation provided by the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference]


Holy See Statement on Azerbaijan Accord
"Today Is to Be Regarded As a High Point in Our Relations"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 8, 2011- Here is the address Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states, delivered Wednesday on the occasion of the exchange of instruments of ratification of the agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The Agreement, which is written in English and Azeri and includes a preamble and eight articles, regulates the position of the Catholic Church in Azerbaijan. It comes into force with the exchange of instruments of ratification, as per article 8 of the Agreement itself.

* * *

Your Excellency,

Distinguished Members of the Azerbaijani Delegation!

I am pleased to welcome Your Excellency to the Vatican for the exchange of the instruments of ratification of the Agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Azerbaijan, signed on 29 April 2011 in Baku. With today’s important Act this Agreement enters into force.

The Holy See and the Republic of Azerbaijan, in recent decades, have demonstrated a desire to develop and strengthen relationships.

In 2002 the unforgettable visit of the late Pope John Paul II to Azerbaijan was a sign of his great love for your country, its history and culture. His visit initiated a new era of mutual understanding, cooperation and inter-religious dialogue.

The President of Azerbaijan, H.E. Ilham Aliyev, was present at the Pope’s solemn funeral in the Vatican.

In 2008 His Eminence Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State of His Holiness, on the invitation of the religious and civil Authorities, made a visit to Azerbaijan. During his visit, he conveyed the esteem of Pope Benedict XVI to the Government and expressed the Pope’s closeness to the Catholic faithful. He also met with the head of the Muslims of the Caucasus, Sheikh ul-Islam Allashukur Pashazade, and other religious leaders, in order to express the Catholic Church’s willingness to cooperate in the shared commitment to peace, harmony between peoples and the good of the human family.

I would like to mention also the visit in 2006 of the then Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, and the visit in 2010 of the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi. These visits were the culmination of longstanding and continuing cooperation in the cultural realm between the Holy See and the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Furthermore, on the invitation of the Government of Azerbaijan the Holy See regularly attends the Conference of the Intercultural Dialogue Forum in Baku.

In 2010, Your Excellency visited the Vatican and, among other things, you informed me that, with regard to the registration of the Catholic Church, the Government desired to find a solution satisfactory to both parties.

Today is to be regarded as a high point in our relations. The Catholic Church and the Republic of Azerbaijan have achieved a goal and we have confirmed our existing good relations. This historical Agreement, which regulates the juridical status of the Catholic Church in the Republic of Azerbaijan, is a valuable instrument which implements the principle of religious freedom, which is of paramount importance and is reflected in the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Agreement recognizes and registers the juridical personality of the Catholic Church, as well as that of its institutions established on the basis of its legislation. Furthermore, the new registration ensures that the local Catholic Church can live in peace and confidence, so as better to contribute to the common good of the Country.

This event is very meaningful, also because it provides evidence of the respect for a minority religious community shown by a country with a conspicuous Muslim population. This is an indication of how Christians and Muslims can live together and respect one another.

The Agreement does not affect the existence and activities of the many religious communities, Christian and non-Christian, who have been welcome in Azerbaijan, and does not place the Catholic Church in a privileged position. Rather, the Church seeks to carry out its mission within the ambit of its religious competence and with due regard for the laws of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The coming into force of the Agreement is, however, also a starting point. The consensus reached in areas of mutual interest, such as those cited above, is the clearest sign of our common will to continue to work together, with a new instrument for ensuring the integral formation of each person, as a believer and as a citizen.

On behalf of the Holy See I would like to thank His Excellency President Ilham Aliyev and Your Excellency as well as those who worked with you in the negotiations.

Naturally, our shared hope is that our friendly bilateral relations will now have a fresh impetus to move forward and be intensified. In this, the Permanent Diplomatic Office in Baku will play an important role.

Thank you.


Culture Council on Stem Cell Research
Regenerative Medicine Will Play a Role in the Way the Human Being Is Perceived

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 16, 2011 - Here is an address given today by Father Tomasz Trafny, director of the Science and Faith department of the Pontifical Council for Culture. The council announced collaboration with a U.S. company dedicated to research on adult stem cells, NeoStem.

* * *

Some of you would probably ask: 1) why the Pontifical Council for Culture is involved in an initiative on adult stem cells research; 2) why, then, there is a collaboration with the bio-pharmaceutical company

NeoStem and 3) which are the projects linked to this collaboration.

The answer to the first question has to be found in the mission of our dicastery, that has been called to open a dialogue with all the expressions of modern and contemporary culture, so strongly pervaded and moulded by science. As known, the Pontifical Council for Culture has been engaged for long time in the promotion of a sound dialogue between natural sciences and humanities, above all between philosophy and theology, as demonstrated by the STOQ Project. The choice for such investigation is, therefore, the natural consequence of a route we entered on some years ago.

However, the interest we have in this particular investigation is quiet circumscribing: it aims to explore the cultural impact of research on adult stem cells and of regenerative medicine in the long and medium terms. All this, has its roots in a two-fold belief: the first one concerns the fact that, according to the expectations, in the next decades, regenerative medicine will play an important role not only in facing the problem of degenerative disease, but also in thinking to medical science, to its potential and, what is more interesting for us, to the way human being is considered and perceived in such a wide cultural context, continuously subject to strong changes. The second one was theorized by Edmund D. Pellegrino, physician and philosopher of medicine, who considered medicine as the most scientific of the humanities and the most humane of sciences[1]. For this reason, we share a field of dialogue with this specific science that will influence the future of culture. But, if on one hand, medicine is of all sciences the nearest to human beings (we indeed meet the doctor before being delivered, not to mention how many times we need to go to the doctor in our life), on the other, modern medicine interact with all the other cultural contexts: social, legislative, philosophical and theological, or economical ones (suffice it to think about the greater longevity that pose ourselves important questions concerning care, pensions and others). We are talking of a science having several and best available technology instruments and that questions ourselves with existential insights, requiring a deeper reflection and understanding.

The unique collaboration with NeoStem must focus on two considerations. The first one relies on the fact that we share the same sensitivity towards those ethical values that are centred on the protection of human life at all stages of its existence. The second, concerns interest of investigation on cultural consequences that scientific discoveries in the field of adult stem cells research and their application in regenerative medicine will cause. Today, it is not in any way obvious that a pharmaceutical company would have a strong sensitivity towards the protection of human life in its whole, having at the same time an interest towards cultural investigation. For this reason, we have thought to formalize a collaboration and we have been working since more that one year in order to define potential paths of development. It is clear that our collaboration is open to other institutions sharing the same values.

The first significant step of this collaboration will be the International Conference on Adult Stem Cells: Science and the future of man and culture, which sees the collaboration and support of two other departments of the Holy See, the Pontifical Council for Health Care (for the Pastoral care of Health) and the Pontifical Academy for life. To the Presidents of these two dicasteries His Excellency Most Rev. Bishop Zimowski, His Excellency Most Rev. Archbishop Carrasco de Paula, and their representatives Monsignors Musivi Mpendawatu and Suaudeau we express our gratitude for their willingness, enthusiasm and competence with which they wanted to support this initiative.

The conference itself will have a popular but high profile character. This means that it will be adressed to those who do not have a real scientific background on life sciences or medicine. We would like to introduce participants to the state of the art on adult stem cells research, its clinical applications and, in some cases, clinical applications that have already brought considerable benefits to patients and explain and discuss some problems and challenges arising in the wide consideration of interactions between scientific research and culture, and that can have a significant impact human beings’ future. For this reason, we especially invite bishops and ambassadors accredited to the Holy See to participate in this conference, but also the health ministers of the countries that would like to participate in this initiative, opinion leaders, media, etc… We also hope that some of our supporters who share the same sensitivity towards ethical values and a desire to promote dialogue between science and faith will be present.

Finally, with regards to the future possible projects, we want to help students of the Pontifical Universities and the Pontifical Catholic Educational Institutes to investigate the issues linked to the relationships between natural sciences and humanities, in a possible framework for interdisciplinary research. We also wish to reach a wide audience, especially the faithful and their pastors, but also pastoral workers at various levels, who sometimes find difficult to understand some complex problems posed both by science, and by philosophy and theology, and which need a clear and understandable explication, also for those who do not have the appropriate scientific background, but who wish to have not only a right information on these issues, but also the possibility for attending e-learning courses or short courses to be offered in the diocesan pastoral center.

I would like to conclude with a quote from the famous letter that Pope John Paul II addressed to Father Gorge Coyne, where he underlined the importance of the dialogue between science and faith, and between the several fields of knowledge.

As dialogue and common searching continue, there will be grow towards mutual understanding and a gradual uncovering of common concerns which will provide the basis for further research and discussion. Exactly what form that will take must be left to the future. What is important, (…) is that the dialogue should continue and grow in depth and scope. In the process we must overcome every regressive tendency to a unilateral reductionism, to fear, and to self-imposed isolation. What is critically important is that each discipline should continue to enrich, nourish and challenge the other to be more fully what it can be and to contribute to our vision of who we are and who we are becoming.

We do believe in a dialogue carried on in this way, and we are open to all the possible paths of collaboration with several institutions, single researchers and philanthropists who want to share these initiatives, that we hope would have a global impact for the promotion of a culture of future, centered on deep values.

--- --- ---

[1] Cfr. Humanism and the Physician, University of Tennesse Press, Knoxville 1979, 117-129.


Address of Holy See at High-Level UN HIV/AIDS Meeting
"The Human Person Can and Should Change Irresponsible and Dangerous Behavior"

NEW YORK, JUNE 14, 2011 - Here is the statement delivered last Friday by Jane Adolphe, associate professor of law at Ave Maria School of Law and a member of the Holy See delegation to the United Nations, on the closing day of the UN High-level meeting on HIV/AIDS. Adolphe spoke on behalf of Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.

* * *

Mr. President,

As we gather here today in this high-level meeting of dignitaries from around the world, we do so with the recognition that we stand as one family with those living with HIV and AIDS and remember in our thoughts and prayers those whom this disease has taken from this world. Policies, programs and political statements are without meaning if we do not recognize the human dimension of this disease in the men, women and children who are living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. Of course, any policy, program or political statement of this noble organization has little meaning if it is not implemented by the virtuous actions that will help all of those in need.

Over thirty years into the HIV and AIDS disease, the international community continues to search for answers and solutions to halt the spread of HIV and to provide treatment, care and support to the over 33 million people living with HIV and AIDS. From the beginning, Catholic organizations, religious congregations and lay associations have been at the forefront in providing prevention, treatment, care and support to millions around the world while, at the same time, promoting the need for a value-based response to this disease. Through its approximately 117,000 health care facilities around the world, the Catholic Church alone provides over 25% of all care for those living with HIV and AIDS, especially children. These institutions affiliated with the Church are at the forefront for providing a response which sees people not as statistics but rather in their dignity and worth as brothers, sisters and neighbors of the same human family.

My delegation remains committed to achieving the goal of halting and reversing the spread of HIV by promoting the only universally effective, safe and affordable means of halting the spread of the disease: abstinence before marriage and mutual fidelity within marriage, avoiding risk taking and irresponsible behaviors and promoting universal access to drugs which prevent the spread of HIV from mother-to-child. In fact, there is a growing international recognition that the abstinence and fidelity based programs in parts of Africa have been successful in reducing HIV infection, where transmission has largely occurred within the general population. However, despite this acknowledgement, some continue to deny these results and instead are largely guided by ideology and the financial self interest which has grown as a result of the HIV disease.

Combating the spread of HIV does not require expensive drugs and commodities, which seek to diminish the consequences of dangerous and irresponsible behavior, but rather requires a value-based response which recognizes the need to promote the inherent dignity of the human person, thus, responsible sexual behavior and recognition of responsibility to oneself and one’s own community. Preventing the spread of HIV requires not only identifying those persons who are at risk of becoming infected, but also identifying the ways and means to help people in avoiding the very activity which puts them at risk of becoming infected. The best cure is prevention that awakens the consciousness of individuals who may be lured into dangerous practices that threaten them and those with whom they may live or otherwise encounter.

Mr. President,

New studies have demonstrated that access to anti-retroviral drugs provides not only a means for treating the disease but also a means for reducing the risks of spreading it. However, access to anti-retroviral therapy continues to be out of reach for many of the poorest and most vulnerable. In low and middle income countries approximately 15 million people are living with HIV but only 5.2 million have access to the life-saving treatment they need. In addition, these same populations continue to lack access to diagnostic technologies and testing equipment which allows for more effective and safe means of treating those living with HIV and AIDS.

With estimates showing that funding to combat HIV and AIDS fell in 2010--for the first time in the history of combating the disease--we are reminded that political declarations and good will need to be matched by concrete actions on the ground and at the international level. The first step in taking such action is to ensure that the 10 million people lacking access to life saving drugs are provided the safe and affordable treatment, care and support required. The approximately $7 billion U.S. dollars which would be needed to provide this treatment is a substantial sum but pales in comparison to the money and resources spent by countries in the pursuit of war and other destructive activities such as the global enterprise that surrounds arms and drug trading. In addition to closing the funding gap, countries and the private sector must continue to reassess pharmaceutical intellectual property rights to ensure that these protections serve as a means for greater research and advancement, rather than becoming yet another barrier to accessing necessary drugs and medical equipment.

While greater funding and access to necessary drugs is a requirement for addressing the lack of access to treatment, care and support, so too must greater considerations be given to ensuring that these resources are used in a manner which is effective and responsible. Therefore, it should be ensured that access to funding is not restricted to ideologically preconceived notions but rather is based on the ability of organizations to provide safe, affordable and effective care to those who are in need.

Support for those living with HIV and AIDS does not end at providing access to drugs but requires supporting the families affected. The approximately 16 million children worldwide who have been orphaned by AIDS require compassionate care and a structured environment so that they can receive the proper psycho-social support and become active members of the community. Similarly, families which are providing support for family members who are living with HIV and AIDS must be given the necessary economic, social, medical and spiritual support. This also requires adopting policies which eliminate discrimination against those living with HIV and members of their family.

Mr. President,

HIV and AIDS has been and remains one of the major tragedies of our time. It is not only a health problem of enormous magnitude, but it is also a social, economic and political concern. It is also a moral question, as the causes of the disease clearly reflect a serious crisis of values. Prevention first and foremost must be directed toward formation and education in responsible human behavior or, in other words, acquired human dignity. This is the key to avoiding the infection. The starting point must be the recognition that the human person can and should change irresponsible and dangerous behavior, rather than simply accept such behavior as if it were inevitable and unchangeable. Moreover, in the field of formation and education, especially as regards children, their parents have the primary right, responsibility and duty and their contributions are extremely helpful and efficacious.

The fight to eliminate the spread of HIV and the work to provide universal access to treatment, care and support also requires broader social and personal development. In areas which lack access to clean drinking water, sanitation facilities, sufficient nutrition, adequate housing and basic health care, the ability of individuals and organizations to provide treatment to those living with HIV and AIDS and ward off opportunistic infections will continue to be elusive. Likewise, personal development requires that individuals are provided the education, counseling, and spiritual support necessary to make responsible decisions and to achieve their full potential.

The Holy See and the various organizations of the Catholic Church remain committed to living and working in solidarity with those living with HIV and AIDS and will continue to advocate steadfastly for the demands of the common good and providing support and care to those most in need.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Holy See's Statement on UN's AIDS Declaration
"What Is Needed Is a Value-Based Approach to Counter the Disease"

NEW YORK, JUNE 14, 2011 - Here is the "Statement of Interpretation" provided last Friday by the Holy Mission to the United Nations on the adoption of the Political Declaration in HIV and AIDs, which it asked to be included in the report of the high-level plenary of the General Assembly.

* * *

Mr. President,

On the adoption of the declaration, the Holy See offers the following statement of interpretation. I would ask that the text of this statement, which explains the official position of the Holy See, kindly be included in the report of this high-level plenary of the General Assembly.

In providing more than one fourth of all care for those who are suffering from HIV and AIDS, Catholic healthcare institutions know well the importance of access to treatment, care and support for the millions of people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.

The position of the Holy See on the expressions "sexual and reproductive health" and "services," the ILO Recommendation No 200, and the Secretary-General's Global Strategy on Women and Children's Health is to be interpreted in terms of its reservations in the Report of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) of 1994. The position of the Holy See on the word "gender" and its various uses is to be interpreted in terms of its reservations in the Report of the Fourth World Conference on Women.

The Holy See understands that, when referring to "young people," the definition of which enjoying no international consensus, States must always respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents to provide appropriate direction and guidance to their children, which includes having primary responsibility for the upbringing, development, and education of their children (cf., Convention on the Rights of the Child, Articles 5, 18, and 27,2). States must acknowledge that the family, based on marriage being the equal partnership between one man and one woman and the natural and fundamental group unit of society, is indispensible in the fight against HIV and AIDS, for the family is where children learn moral values to help them live in a responsible manner and where the greater part of care and support is provided (cf. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16,3).

The Holy See rejects references to terms such as "populations at high risk" because they treat persons as objects and can give the false impression that certain types of irresponsible behavior are somehow morally acceptable. The Holy See does not endorse the use of condoms/commodities including as part of HIV and AIDS prevention programs or classes/programs of education in sex/sexuality. Prevention programs or classes/programs of education in human sexuality should focus not on trying to convince the world that risky and dangerous behavior forms part of an acceptable lifestyle, but rather should focus on risk avoidance, which is ethically and empirically sound. The only safe and completely reliable method of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV is abstinence before marriage and respect and mutual fidelity within marriage, which is and must always be the foundation of any discussion of prevention and support.

The Holy See does not accept so-called "harm reduction" efforts related to drug use. Such efforts do not respect the dignity of those who are suffering from drug addiction as they do not treat or cure the sick person, but instead falsely suggest that they cannot break free from the cycle of addiction. Such persons must be provided the necessary spiritual, psychological and familial support to break free from the addictive behavior in order to restore their dignity and encourage social inclusion.

The Holy See rejects the characterization of persons who engage in prostitution as "sex workers" as this can give the false impression that prostitution could somehow be a legitimate form of work. Prostitution cannot be separated from the issue of the status and dignity of persons; governments and society must not accept such a dehumanization and objectification of persons.

What is needed is a value-based approach to counter the disease of HIV and AIDS, an approach which provides the necessary care and moral support for those infected and which promotes living in conformity with the norms of the natural moral order, an approach which respects fully the inherent dignity of the human person.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Holy See's Address to UN International Labor Conference
"Work Is ... an Opportunity for People to Transform Reality"

GENEVA, Switzerland, JUNE 13, 2011- Here is the address Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent representative of the Holy See to the U.N. offices in Geneva, delivered last Wednesday at the 100th Session of the International Labor Conference, which is under way in Geneva through Friday.

* * *

Mr. President,

1. The Delegation of the Holy See congratulates the ILO for its steadfast service to social development through the collaborative action of workers, employers and governments. This 100th Conference is evidence of this fruitful approach in the pursuit of the common good.

These are critical and challenging times for developed countries as they are slowly emerging from a financial crisis of unprecedented depth whose consequences are evident across all sectors of societies. These impacts are especially obvious in the acute and prolonged levels of unemployment that men and women in many countries are suffering. Social and economic safety nets have been stretched to the breaking point and austerity programs entail severe cuts in the basic services that citizens, especially the elderly, children and the poor have come to rely on.

Old formulas for recovery and economic growth are proving less certain in a globally integrated economic environment and sovereign governments in most instances have not been able to find a formula for economic growth that restores jobs and includes new employment opportunities for the millions who are looking for work. Despite the fact that the majority of macroeconomic indicators seem to have recovered to pre-crisis levels, the labour market is still suffering: unemployment rates remain high and show no sign of recovery in the short term and the long term prognosis is uneven.

The experience of a weak economic recovery that brings with it very few new job opportunities is a reality in some countries while a robust stock market recovery with only mediocre job creation is the situation in a number of other countries. Moreover, a recovery in labour markets at the global level has been uneven, with moderate improvement being delivered in developing and emerging countries but raising unemployment in advanced economies. In the advanced economies space the unemployment problem remain particularly acute as they account for 55% of the total increase in the world's unemployment that occurred between 2007 and 2010 while accounting only for 15% of world's labor force.

The enduring high rates of unemployment are accompanied by another critical factor in the current economic condition: the absence of any sustained increase of employment opportunities. The world economy, albeit growing at a steady level, is not able to create a sufficient number of jobs. This is true not only in advanced economies but also in emerging markets such as China and India where employment elasticity is extremely low, despite the two digit growth rates in output.

This is a structural problem that was already identified well before the outbreak of the crisis and was known as jobless growth. A sustained repetition of this paradigm will lead to severe strain on those searching for meaningful work and on the attendant social unrest in local communities. We must do our very best to avoid this scenario.

Youth Unemployment

2. An area of critical concern is the impact of unemployment on young people in different communities across the world. In fact some 78 million young people, in the 15-24 age group were unemployed in 2010, a rate 2.6 times that of adult unemployment. Youth unemployment is a common problem in every country; however, it is particularly acute in the developed world. It is somewhat ironic that post industrial economies characterized by an ageing population, are not able to create enough meaningful and decent work opportunities to meet the needs and the expectations of their young people who comprise a much smaller percentage of the population.

Youth unemployment has a wider and deeper impact that affects society as a whole. It is well documented that people who are underemployed, who become redundant or become unemployed early in their working years, can easily become demoralised, lose confidence in their abilities and in their employment prospects and find themselves trapped in a spiral of social exclusion. Documented evidence of how the financial crisis has resulted in unprecedented levels of youth unemployment has raised the spectre of a "lost generation" of young people who have dropped out of the job market.

The uncertainty over working opportunity and conditions, when it becomes endemic, tends to "create new forms of psychological instability, giving rise to difficulty in forging coherent life-plans, including that of marriage. This leads to situations of human decline, to say nothing of the waste of social resources. In comparison with the casualties of industrial society in the past, unemployment today provokes new forms of economic marginalization, and the current crisis can only make this situation worse."[1]

Women's employment

3. The second area of vulnerability is constituted by women. Despite the significant progress that has been made in recent decades in reducing women’s discrimination in the workplace, women continue to be penalised in the labour market with a restricted access to several jobs. Their economic activity, hence, is by no means restricted to working for a salary: their unpaid work -- which does not enter GDP statistics -- contributes in a crucial way to personal, societal and national well-being. If it is true, and not mere rhetoric, that human resources are the most precious among economic resources, the economic role of women should be taken more seriously than it is usually done.

In OECD countries the employment rate of women is on average 20% below that of men with this gap reaching 30% in countries such as Italy or Japan. In addition women's wages are consistently lower by 20-30% and they continue to constitute a much larger percentage of those who are filling low-paid jobs. However, one of the greatest cross cutting discrimination realities that still exist is the fact that labour markets remain so inflexible and find it difficult to reconcile the work model and schedule with the responsibilities for childcare and the care of other dependants that many in the workforce carry. Generating and taking care of new generations is the human activity which is closest to economic investment, and the family itself is a sort of "relational" investment. As a firm is the observable outcome of risky human actions and interactions, namely an investment that implies personalized and durable relations, so is the family. As the firm is understood as a "unit" of some kind, with a "common good" of its own; so it is of the family.

Hence, supporting women’s contribution to economic and societal well-being should obviously include affordable childcare facilities, flexible working arrangements , job sharing, maternity and parental protection, but it would also require revaluing the "common good" dimension of women’s investment in generation -- that is, in meaningful and durable relationships which open the new generations to the quest for beauty, for sense, for meaning -- which are undoubtedly the most significant drivers to human, economic and societal innovation and progress.

Domestic Workers

4. Another group of people calling for special attention are domestic workers and ILO is providing a timely response through a new instrument of protection carefully designed and presented for approval at this conference. The growth of domestic work as a service sector is particularly strong in developed countries and has been fuelled by several factors: significant demographic changes such as aging populations, decline in the welfare provisions provided by governments, increasing labour force participation by women, and the challenges of balancing the responsibilities of working life and family life in urban areas.[2]

The adoption of a new Convention on domestic work is essential by the experience of the persistent exclusion of these workers from even the basic labor protections. Domestic workers, in many countries, are living in miserable conditions and often remain excluded from labor laws and collective bargaining agreements. This endemic exclusion from adequate social protection deprives them of the security that ‘decent work’ deserves and requires. This is even more problematic, given that many of these domestic workers are migrant women, who leave their family in order to economically sustain it; they provide care for their employer’s children or elderly, in exchange for a wage that can improve the material quality of life of their own families, which they can seldom visit. This pattern creates a sort of "global care chain" which is structurally built on the disruption of basic family relationships for all women involved. The medium-long term consequences of such disruption deserves more attention within a "relational" approach to the economic situation of women, as it is well known that families play a crucial role in providing social capital for human and economic development, especially in low-income countries.

Decency emphasizes the need to both understand and ground the ultimate significance of work. Work is not only toil and effort, which results in services, activities or production, but also an opportunity for people to transform reality and fulfill their personal vocations.

Pope John Paul II defined work as a "hard good" emphasizing the need to put effort and passion in what is man’s primary activity. It is good not only in the sense that it is useful or something to enjoy; it is also good as being something worthy, that is to say, something that corresponds to man’s dignity, that expresses this dignity and increases it.[3]

5. In this 100th session of the International Labor Conference we must reaffirm the importance of a new governance based on the principle of subsidiarity and tripartitism that gives the ILO an edge in integrating 'real world' knowledge about employment and work. In a globally integrated financial system that is characterized by speed, mobility and flexibility, the voice and advocacy of those who protect and promote the rights of workers and the dignity of labor is essential.

As Pope Benedict says: "In the global era, the economy is influenced by competitive models tied to cultures that differ greatly among themselves. The different forms of economic enterprise to which they give rise find their main point of encounter in commutative justice. Economic life undoubtedly requires contracts, in order to regulate relations of exchange between goods of equivalent value. But it also needs just laws and forms of redistribution governed by politics, and what is more, it needs works redolent of the spirit of gift." [4] The challenge is laid out before all actors -- public and private -- who are charged with ensuring that our burgeoning and mercurial global economic system adheres to fundamental principles of justice which prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable in a way that respects individual and corporate activity within the overarching principle of the global common good. The ILO is very well situated to ensure that this process of re-assessment and reform of the global financial system remains rooted in the concerns of the smallest and most vital units that make up modern society: the family, the workplace, the community.

As mentioned by Benedict XVI "economic life must be understood as a multi-layered phenomenon". Without excluding the essential roles of market and state, "civil society" may be an essential voice to advance the good of all[5]. The Holy See brings a rich tradition that is matched by its experience across the globe and across the centuries; journeying with organizations such as the ILO, it forges an ever-expanding communion that favors the good of everyone and of all peoples.


[1] Pope Benedict XVI encyclical Letter "Caritas in Veritate," No. 25

[2] A.Souza, "Moving towards Decent work for Domestic workers: An Overview of the ILO’s work."

[3] Pope John Paul II , Encyclical Letter "Laborem Wxercens," No. 27-

[4] "Caritas in Veritate," No. 37

[5] "Today we can say that economic life must be understood as a multi-layered phenomenon: in every one of these layers, to varying degrees and in ways specifically suited to each, the aspect of fraternal reciprocity must be present. In the global era, economic activity cannot prescind from gratuitousness, which fosters and disseminates solidarity and responsibility for justice and the common good among the different economic players. … Solidarity is first and foremost a sense of responsibility on the part of everyone with regard to everyone, and it cannot therefore be merely delegated to the State." "Caritas in Veritate, No. 37.


Holy See Statement to UN Meeting on Children's Rights
"Our Ultimate Goal ... the Dignity of Every Single Person"

GENEVA, Switzerland, JUNE 10, 2011  - Here is the address Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva, delivered Monday to the 17th Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council on children's rights.

* * *

Mr. President,

At the outset, my Delegation would like to congratulate all the stakeholders engaged in the preparation of the draft Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child to provide a communication procedure (OPC), which will become a significant instrument of the human rights system.

Beyond the legal aspect, the Optional Protocol to the CRC provides a word of hope and encouragement to those children and young people whose innocence and human dignity have been wounded by the cruelty that can be present in the world of adults. If all States, UN agencies, civil society and faith-based institutions work together in a more effective partnership, they will be able to ensure love, care and assistance to those affected by violence and abuse. Moreover, they will foster a world where these children can pursue their dreams and aspirations of a future free of violence.

"The best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration"[1] and the precondition to realize the future thus envisioned. In fact, we are "convinced that the family, as the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members, and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community"[2]. In line with the CRC that recognizes the family as essential, the Holy See believes that the best interests of the child are primarily served in the context of the traditional family.

Mr. President,

More than fifty years ago, in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, the General Assembly proclaimed that "The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity"[3]. This continues to be of great importance now, as it was then, and points to the responsibility of the entire international community to pursue its essential work of promoting the dignity and wellbeing of all children and adolescents everywhere.

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI made an appeal to the international community to increase its effort to offer an adequate response to the tragic problems experienced by far too many children: "May a generous commitment on everyone’s part not to be lacking so that the rights of children may be recognized and their dignity given ever greater respect."

Mr. President, the Holy See looks at this new Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child to provide a communication procedure as an opportune contribution to strengthening the human rights system. May it also bring us closer to our ultimate goal: the unconditional preservation and respect of the dignity of every single person, woman or man, adult or child.

Thank you Mr. President.


[1] GENERAL ASSEMBLY, Art.3 al. 1 of the Convention on the Right of the Child, 1989, p. 1.

[2] GENERAL ASSEMBLY, Preamble of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, p. 1.

[3] GENERAL ASSEMBLY, Declaration of the Rights of the Child, 1959, p. 1.


Prelate's Words to UN on Violence Against Women
"A Long Way to Go in Order to Achieve Effective Equality Everywhere"

GENEVA, Switzerland, JUNE 10, 2011 - Here is the address Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva, delivered June 3 to the 17th Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council on the topic of violence against women.

* * *

Mr President,

The Delegation of the Holy See welcomes the second thematic report on violence against women, a topic of human rights concern that rightly has resulted in greater awareness among the general public and has strengthened the efforts of States to achieve just and equitable treatment of women.

As noted in the report, the root problem rests with a view of women that ignores or rejects their equal dignity. Notwithstanding the progress achieved, violence against women remains a tragic reality. Rape is used as a weapon of war during conflicts; girls are trafficked as merchandise; domestic workers at times are abused with impunity; young women are kidnapped, forced to convert and forced to marry; others are forced to abort. While violence occurs more frequently where poverty and social instability are prevalent, we also must recognize that some legal systems and traditions still condone it. Such negative and unequal treatment of women often cause long-lasting physical, psychological and social negative effects. There is still a long way to go in order to prevent violence against women and girls and to achieve effective equality everywhere.

As Pope Benedict XVI has remarked: "There are places and cultures where women are discriminated against or undervalued for the sole fact of being women, where recourse is made even to religious arguments and family, social and cultural pressure in order to maintain the inequality of the sexes, where acts of violence are consummated in regard to women, making them the object of mistreatment and of exploitation in advertising and in the consumer and entertainment industry. Faced with such grave and persistent phenomena the Christian commitment appears all the more urgent so that everywhere it may promote a culture that recognizes the dignity that belongs to women, in law and in concrete reality."[1]

Personal and structural forms of violence against women are often inter-related and demand assertive efforts to achieve their elimination. This phenomenon can not be analyzed in isolation from the social context in which it occurs. As it is noted by the Rapporteur, improvement in the standard of living and provisions of equal access to education will enable society to prevent additional occurrence of such violence. In fact, education itself can serve as a vehicle to create a mentality that supports and respects women.

Taking into account "the fundamental anthropological truths of man and woman, the equality of their dignity and the unity of both, the well-rooted and profound diversity between the masculine and the feminine and their vocation to reciprocity and complementarity, to collaboration and to communion[2]," my Delegation considers that it is possible to improve the situation of women and to fight the scourge of violence, and to build a creative equality and a mutual respect that prevent any recourse to violence.

Thank you, Mr. President.


[1]Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Participants in the International Convention on the Theme "Woman and Man, The Human in its Entirety,"Vatican City, 9 February 2008,

[2] Ibid.


Vatican Address to World Health Organization Assembly
"Despite Progress ... We Are Still a Long Way From Universal Coverage"

GENEVA, Switzerland, MAY 24, 2011 - Here is the address delivered by Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, to the World Health Organization's 64th World Health Assembly, which concluded today in Geneva.

* * *

Mr. Chairman,

To begin with, I wish to share with this august assembly the joy of the Catholic faithful and all people of good will, for the recent beatification of Pope John Paul II, who among others was an intrepid defender of life and showed great love for the sick and suffering.

1. The World Health Report 2010 emphasizes health system financing as the conduit to the much desired universal coverage in health service provision. It also notes with concern that despite the progress made in some countries, on the whole, we are still a long way from universal coverage. We are stalled in the status quo, where the rich people have higher levels of coverage, while most of the poor people miss out, and those who do have access often incur high, sometimes catastrophic costs in paying for services and medicine.[1]

Pope Benedict XVI, in his message to the International Conference on "Equitable and Human Health Care," expressed his concern for the millions of people who have no access to health care services. He called for "greater commitment at all levels to ensure that the right to health care is rendered effective by furthering access to basic health care."[2]

It is true that to ensure universal health coverage, countries can and need to raise sufficient funds, reduce reliance on direct payments for services and improve efficiency and equity, thus removing the financial barriers to access, especially for poor and less advantaged people. On the other hand, it is also true that very few of the low-income countries have any chance of generating from domestic resources alone, the funds required to achieve universal access by 2015. This sad fact highlights the need for a true global solidarity, in which high income countries do not only promise, but effectively meet their commitments on development assistance.

Mr. Chairman, as Blessed John Paul II, repeatedly observed, the need for solidarity between rich and poor nations in order to ensure universal access to medical care, cannot be overemphasized.[3] My delegation therefore, wishes to reiterate the appeal of Pope Benedict XVI, for the co-operation of the human family.[4] He stresses that "more economically developed nations should do all they can to allocate larger portions of their gross domestic product to development aid, thus respecting the obligations that the international community has undertaken in this regard." [5]

Such development aid, he says, ought to "be distributed with the involvement not only of the governments of receiving countries, but also local economic agents and the bearers of culture within civil society, including local Churches. Aid programmes must increasingly acquire the characteristics of participation and completion from the grass roots."[6]

2. Secondly, with regard to the Draft WHO HIV Strategy 2011-2015, the Holy See appreciates the emphasis laid on eliminating new HIV infections in children and expanding and optimizing HIV treatment and care for them, which up to date has been lagging behind the progress made in treating adults.

Mr Chairman, my delegation would like to stress the importance of education to behaviour change and responsible living, as key elements of the prevention campaign. In this regard, I wish to express the Holy See’s reservations concerning the choice of harm reduction and opioid substitution as a preventive measure among injecting drug users, which though may delay new infections, does not really take care of, treat or cure the sick person, in order to restore their dignity and encourage social insertion.

3. Third, Mr Chairman, my delegation welcomes the attention given to the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases and lifestyles, in order to reduce premature mortality and improve the quality of life. In this effort, while realizing the importance of strengthening health systems in order to respond promptly and effectively to the health needs of affected persons, the Holy See would like to underline the need to increase the political commitment and the involvement of NGOs and civil society, working together with the private sector especially in the promotion of prevention initiatives, above all the encouragement of healthy lifestyles. As some member states have observed, these non-communicable diseases end up being communicable because of the transmission of the underlying behaviour. This underscores the importance of education to healthy lifestyles as a component of education to health and addressing the social determinants of health.

4. Finally, my delegation fully shares the concerns expressed in the adopted resolution on child injury prevention EB128.R15. In view of these serious concerns for the health and safety of children, the Holy See would like to appeal to the international community to support transfer of knowledge on measures and instruments for the prevention of child injury to low- and middle income countries, where 95% of the child injury deaths occur, and also help to improve emergency-care and rehabilitation services for non-fatal injuries in these settings, where, among others, long civil wars drastically increase the incidences of child injuries and the victims end up in centres that often lack the means and resources to take care of them.

Thank you, Mr Chairman, and God bless you all.


[1] Cf. WHO, The World Health Report 2010 - Health System Financing: the Path to Universal Coverage, Geneva 2010.

[2] Benedict XVI, Message to Participants in the 25th International Conference Organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, 15 November 2010, Vatican City.

[3] Cf. John Paul II, "Appeal to Humanity at Ouagadougou", 29 January 1990, nn. 4-5, in Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II XII/1 (1990) 305, 306; Giorgio Filibeck, Les droits de l’Homme dans l’enseignement de l’Eglise: de Jean XXIII à Jean-Paul II, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 1992, p. 219.

[4] Benedict XVI, Encyclical letter Caritas in veritate, n. 53.

[5] Benedict XVI, Encyclical letter Caritas in veritate, n. 60.

[6] Benedict XVI, Encyclical letter Caritas in veritate, n. 58.



Holy See's Address at UN Development Conference
"Promote the Good of Every Man and of the Whole Man"

ISTANBUL, Turkey, MAY 23, 2011 - Here is the address delivered by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent representative to the U.N. offices in Geneva at the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV). The conference was held May 9-13 in Istanbul.

* * *

Mr. President,

First of all. My Delegation would like to thank the Government of Turkey for the effective organization of this timely and important conference and for the great hospitality of the Turkish people.

Mr. President,

1. The LDCs' development paradigm implemented over the past years has proven ineffective. Since the early 2000s the continued growth (7% per year from 2002 to 2007) in many LDCs has not translated into an improved situation for the people. The number of very poor people has actually increased (more than 3 million per year from 2002 to 2007). In 2007, 59% of the population in African LDCs was living on less than USD 1.25 per day.

2. Currently the growth in many of these countries comes primarily from the exploitation and export of natural resources, especially mineral reserves, while growth across other sectors is not robust or consistent. Unfortunately the growth that is realized in the extractives sector is the subject of many controversies on revenue distribution and local community impact, and only creates a significant number of jobs in the exploratory and build up phase of the project but very few that are long term. This correlates with ILO research that shows the labor force in LDC countries increasing by 2.5% per year but the opportunities for employment are not commensurate with either the robust growth or the demand for employment. The impact of these limited employment opportunities is experienced particularly by the young and those who are entering the work force for the first time. The success stories are found in countries that have created some productive capacities such as horticulture, in the cases of Uganda and Ethiopia. Ghana and Kenya that are not LDCs have also shown good performance in this area.

3. The analysis of this current reality in the LDC group has led UNCTAD, in its Least Developed Countries Report 2010, to propose a new international development architecture that calls for a more comprehensive approach to the challenges of development. It should be noted that at the session of the UNCTAD’s Trade Development Board (TDB) dedicated to LDCs, the majority of the groups were in favor of the proposed new international architecture for development. Several groups also insisted on the need to include specific considerations for post conflict management situations, the reconstruction of infrastructures and agricultural production, while others have insisted that regional approaches to these issues be considered.

The Holy See supports this new approach and will focus its intervention on three themes.

4. The first theme looks at the Pillars of "integral human development".

In the encyclical letter "Caritas in Veritate" that was released on 7 July 2009, Pope Benedict XVI reviews the foundational teaching on development that was presented in the encyclical letter of Pope Paul VI, "On the Progress of Peoples (Populorum Progressio)" in 1967: "development cannot be limited to mere economic growth. In order to be authentic, it must be complete: integral, that is, it has to promote the good of every man and of the whole man."1 It is important that we recall this foundational teaching on the nature of development and recover its central truth as we reflect on the specific challenges that the LDCs present at this ministerial conference.

Since 1967 numerous theories and approaches to development have been proposed and tested and this has resulted in a much deeper understanding of the complex and evolving challenges that any consideration of this topic presents. It remains however true that there are still millions who have little or no access to the goods and benefits that development offers. An honest evaluation of the progress that has been made is reflected in the words of the Holy Father who writes that "...progress, remains an open question, made all the more acute and urgent by the current economic and financial crisis. If some areas of the globe, with a history of poverty, have experienced remarkable changes in terms of their economic growth and their share in world production, other zones are still living in a situation of deprivation comparable to that which existed at the time of Paul VI, and in some cases one can even speak of a deterioration."[2]

In numerous other evaluations, including the aforementioned UNCTAD report, we have been reminded that a comprehensive and inclusive framework for international development is essential if any enduring results are to be achieved. In the Catholic Social Teaching tradition the pillars for such framework have been identified as follows: respect for human dignity; protection of human rights; care of creation; participation in community, subsidiarity and solidarity. Other pillars that are judged to be constitutive of an integral development plan are education; natural resource exploitation; agriculture; manufacturing; trade; financial services; infrastructure and technology.

As we continue to reflect on the specific challenges which development presents in LDCs it remains imperative that these pillars serve as a guide in our efforts to promote and sustain an approach to development that is integral and authentically human.[3]

5. The second theme deals with the kind of growth necessary for ‘integral human development".

Any approach to the challenge of development must recognize that "the development of individuals and peoples depends partly on the resolution of problems of a spiritual nature. Development must include not just material growth but also spiritual growth".[4] Too often the use of quantifiable metrics and economic criteria to measure such realities as gross domestic product or the narrow horizon of stock market growth fails to capture the full measure of what it means to be human, fails to appreciate the transcendent dimension of the person and therefore what it takes to promote the development of the whole person.

Growth therefore that promotes "integral human development" is one that is inclusive of the pillars already mentioned above and evaluated by how well it promotes sustainable development and communities, creates decent jobs, alleviates people’s poverty and protects the environment. A model of growth that includes these objectives will build a domestic economic and commercial cycle that is sustainable, respects the environment and promotes development. Among the necessary elements in this growth model, especially in LDCs, are a vibrant agriculture sector and job creation across a number of sectors that will engage the large number of people who are entering the employment sector.

In LDCs for example, the agricultural value added for workers rose three times more slowly than the GDP per capita over the last 20 years. At the same time, LDCs’ dependence on imported food commodities has greatly increased (multiplied by 3 between 2000 and 2008). As a result it is among the 2.5 billion people dependent on agriculture for their daily sustenance that one finds most of the people who suffer from malnutrition and hunger.

Any growth model that is adopted therefore must recognize and strengthen the central role of agriculture in economic activity; thereby reducing malnutrition in rural areas and increasing production per person in order to enhance local, regional or national food independence.

Investments to improve productivity are required in the areas of seeds, training, sharing of tools for cultivation and of the means for marketing. Structural changes are also demanded according to the specificity of individual states. For example, we must ensure security of land tenure for farmers, especially for those with small landholdings. The customary right of land ownership may be reconsidered. A clear property right gives the farmer the opportunity to pledge his land in exchange for seasonal credit to purchase necessary inputs. In addition, the aim of land tenure has now become increasingly important in the face of the expansion of the phenomenon of land grabbing. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 80% of the land is occupied by poor who have no land title.

Across all sectors of society from agriculture to manufacturing to delivery of services we must remember that decent work "expresses the essential dignity of every man and woman in the context of their particular society: work that is freely chosen, effectively associating workers, both men and women, with the development of their community."[5] Work is not a commodity. Decent work gives everyone the opportunity to use his own talents and to be creative; it is a motor of sustainable growth at the service of the common good and so it must be a central objective of the new architecture. The final goal, then, is the creation of a "work that makes it possible for families to meet their needs and provide schooling for their children, without the children themselves being forced into labor; work that permits the workers to organize themselves freely, and to make their voices heard; work that leaves enough room for rediscovering one's roots at a personal, familial and spiritual level; work that guarantees those who have retired a decent standard of living."[6]

6. The third theme to be kept in mind is the role of the State in promoting "integral human development".

The number of institutions, agents and actors in the development space has increased exponentially over the years. The official development commitments of governments alongside those of voluntary organizations have been substantial during that time. They have now been joined and in some instances are dwarfed by the presence of such actors as corporations, private foundations and private investors. There is, we believe, a need and room for all of these actors for they can bring different perspectives, modes of operating and can thereby make unique contributions to the development that is needed in LDCs.

In this environment, however, the role of the state and of regional, international and global authorities is critical and must be supported and respected. Combined with the Catholic perspective on the responsibility of the state to guarantee the public order and promote the common good, these bodies must play a pivotal role in orchestrating and directing LDC development. This can be especially challenging in a post-conflict context and especially so in a "failed state" situation.

The teaching of our tradition, when it comes to the responsibility of governments to enact the legal framework and rules so that financial and commercial activities fulfill their social purpose and function smoothly, has consistently asserted a positive role for a limited government, that is neither libertarian or collectivist. It became clear during the 2008 financial crisis that the market does not naturally contain in itself the ingredients for an automatic correction of errors and would have led to a collapse of the financial and economic system if the states had not acted. The rescue of the banks, necessary as it has been, did not prevent the painful impact of the crisis on the population since ultimately the correction of the market’s vagaries is carried out to the detriment of populations, states have a duty to intervene pre-emptively to avoid such suffering. "The articulation of political authority at the local, national and international levels is one of the best ways of giving direction to the process of economic globalization. It is also the way to ensure that it does not actually undermine the foundations of democracy".

While recognizing the benefits of free trade to promote development and therefore the urgency to close the gap in the Doha Development Round, the implementation of the commitments to introduce duty free, quota free access to the market for the LDCs should be accompanied by adequate measures to protect farmers against price volatility which has a strong impact on food security for several reasons: high prices make food unaffordable for the poor and temporarily low prices give farmers the incorrect information on needed seedlings after harvest for the following year. To prevent price volatility or at least weaken its impact, local food crops need to be protected against sudden disruptions in international prices. For example, the establishment of regional stockpiles of raw food (cereals, oil, sugar) can have a twofold benefit: these stocks can be sold at an affordable price in case of shock and they can play a moderating role against the volatility of local prices.

The "developmental state" plays a unique and key role in the development of a country and with other regional and international authorities is expected to coordinate appropriate and constructive plans. In addition to the tasks already mentioned above, the responsibility of mobilizing the domestic resources that are regarded as a critical component of stable financing for government priorities and development needs has been identified as essential. This is a tedious and complicated undertaking, especially where no basic framework or infrastructure exists to advance such an objective. Alongside the other resources like FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), ODA (Official Development Assistance) and remittances from local citizens working abroad, these domestic resources will play an essential role in any development plan.

Corporations: The presence of private corporations in communities, societies and countries continues to grow and they have a far reaching impact wherever they are located. Their influence on development, depending on their size and footprint, in local communities and across broad sections of society can be significant and should be monitored and evaluated by the state. They should also be expected to fulfill their obligations as good corporate citizens by keeping in mind according to the Holy Father that, "business management cannot concern itself only with the interests of the proprietors, but must also assume responsibility for all the other stakeholders who contribute to the life of the business: the workers, the clients, the suppliers of various elements of production, the community of reference."[7]

Private Finance and Development; The presence of private finance institutions and actors, such as private equity and hedge funds, in countries and regions across the world continues to increase. Facilitated by the continued expansion and integration of all aspects of the global financial system, their presence presents a unique set of challenges in LDCs. It is important that LDCs be in a position to benefit from their presence and assure that their activities are making a contribution to lasting development.

Once again Pope Benedict reminds all actors in this space and this applies especially to those investors in LDCs that, "What should be avoided is a speculative use of financial resources that yields to the temptation of seeking only short-term profit, without regard for the long-term sustainability of the enterprise, its benefit to the real economy and attention to the advancement, in suitable and appropriate ways, of further economic initiatives in countries in need of development. It is true that the export of investments and skills can benefit the populations of the receiving country. Labour and technical knowledge are a universal good. Yet it is not right to export these things merely for the sake of obtaining advantageous conditions, or worse, for purposes of exploitation, without making a real contribution to local society by helping to bring about a robust productive and social system, an essential factor for stable development."[8]

7. Conclusion

In conclusion, Mr. Pres?dent, LDCs continue to face enormous challenges as they search for the resources and the path to development for their citizens. There remains no easy formula for success but the promise of solidarity can be a foundation for the renewal of commitment by those who have wrestled with this challenge for decades and a guidepost for the new actors in this space. There are numerous different and essential roles and responsibilities for the successful implementation of the development process in the LDCs. Thus, the Holy See anticipates a new Programme of Action for the LDCs for the coming decade. Now is the time to translate into concrete action the commitments that have been made in these days. The future well being of the LDCs depends to a great extent upon the spirit of gratuitousness that motivates our common efforts. Working together in a coordinated and cooperative fashion the institutions and actors from all sectors can and must support the efforts of all LDCs to achieve their goals as members of the one human family.


[1] Paul VI, Encyclical Letter, Populorum Progressio; On the Development of Peoples, no. 14

[2] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter, Caritas in Veritate: Charity in Truth, no. 33.

[3] Ibid., no. 23 Pope Benedict reiterates this approach when he writes; "Many areas of the globe today have evolved considerably, albeit in problematical and disparate ways, thereby taking their place among the great powers destined to play important roles in the future. Yet it should be stressed that progress of a merely economic and technological kind is insufficient. Development needs above all to be true and integral."

[4] Ibid., n. 7

[5] Ibid., no. 63

[6] Ibid.,

[7] Ibid., no. 34

[8] Ibid., no 40


Holy See to UN on Population and Development
"Let Us Feed the Nearly 1 Billion People Who Are Malnourished"

NEW YORK, APRIL 13, 2011 - Here is the statement delivered Tuesday by Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations, to the 44th Session of the Commission on Population and Development. He spoke on the topic "Fertility, Reproductive Health and Development."

* * *

Mr. Chairman,

As we consider the theme of "fertility, reproductive health and development", my delegation takes this opportunity to focus on the paramount importance of respect for the inherent dignity of the human person in all development efforts. At the outset, it will become clear that the theme for this Session mandates a careful scrutiny in order to attain, rather than frustrate, the noble goals of the United Nations that are ordered to preserving the "dignity and worth of the human person."

Unfortunately many discussions in the present day continue to be led by a false notion that, in the context of population growth, the very act of giving life is something to be feared rather than affirmed. Such thinking is based on a radical individualism which sees human reproduction as a commodity that must be regulated and improved in order to encourage greater market efficiency and development. How can such a view be consistent with the objectives of the United Nations? Put most candidly, it cannot.

This flawed understanding leads to the distorted view that population growth, especially among the poor, must be decreased in order to address poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition. It is also based upon the consistently disproven theory that population increase will devastate the environment, lead to global competition and confrontation for resources and undermine the ability of women to interact fully with society. These apprehensions contribute to the advancement of forms of reproductive technology which denigrate the nature of human sexuality. The combination of these misconceptions have led some national governments to adopt laws and policies which discourage parents from exercising their fundamental and non-derogable right to have children free of coercion and which even make it illegal for mothers to give birth in some cases or for a child to have one’s own brothers and sisters.

As the Secretary General’s report notes, reproduction rates vary in many places in the world. However, the report improperly suggests that the rates of reproduction in developing countries are an area of primary concern which demands urgent action. The report, furthermore, promotes the tragic theory that if there were fewer poor children there would be less need to provide education; that if there were fewer poor women giving birth then there would be less maternal mortality; and, that if there were fewer people needed to be fed then malnutrition would be more easily addressed and that greater resources could be allocated to development. In order to combat legitimate problems, the increasingly discredited concept of population control must be discarded.

This distorted world-view regards the poor as a problem to be commoditized and managed as if they were inconsequential objects rather than as unique persons with innate dignity and worth who require the full commitment of the international community to provide assistance so that they can realize their full potential.

Instead of focusing political and financial resources on efforts to reduce the number of poor persons through methods which trivialize marriage and the family and deny the very right to life of unborn children, let us instead focus these resources on providing the promised development assistance to the approximately 920 million people living on less than $1.25 per day. Let us feed the nearly 1 billion people who are malnourished, and let us provide skilled birth attendants at every birth to reduce the incidents of maternal and child morality. Let us achieve our promise of providing primary education to the 69 million children who risk becoming another generation without such basic assistance. These children of today will be the citizens of tomorrow who have much to contribute to the welfare and common good of all.

Through the pursuit of the common good and integral human development -- which necessarily takes into account political, cultural and spiritual aspects of individuals, families and societies -- the international community can respect the dignity of each and every person and thus foster a new ethic for development. This ethic is precisely the tonic that our world desperately needs in order to promote enduring peace and the authentic flourishing for all.

Mr. Chairman,

While the Holy See continues to encourage and advocate that greater priority be placed on addressing the needs of the most vulnerable, at the same time my delegation urges that greater financial, political and social emphasis must be directed at supporting the family.

As the Secretary-General’s report notes, in some regions of the world countries are experiencing population growth below replacement level. This lowering of fertility rates has given rise to ageing populations which lack the necessary population to sustain economic development and provide the resources necessary to support these ageing populations. Inherently linked to addressing this demographic problem is the need to support families. Through the adoption of policies which encourage marriages that are open to and welcome children, and which also provide families the necessary assistance in bearing and rearing children, including those with large families, national policies can encourage a new commitment and openness to life -- life that will sustain a flourishing human family!

The very first principle upon which the outcome document of the International Conference on Population and Development was based recognized that the international community must, in conformity with universally recognized human rights, "respect the various religious and ethical values and cultural background" of all people.[1] This principle is not only a long-held value for international cooperation but it is also necessary for authentic economic development. Recognition of this critical tenet is vital to the success of our work during this Session.

Religious institutions have long been the source for providing health care to local populations around the world. It is worth noting that the Catholic Church provides approximately 25% of all care for those living with HIV/AIDS with over 16,000 social welfare programs and over 1,000 hospitals, 5,000 dispensaries and over 2,000 nurseries in Africa alone.[2] Respecting religious and cultural values is not merely a matter of theory; it is essential for an integral and authentic human development consistent with the objectives of the United Nations and its family of related organizations.

It is important that the international community continue to reflect on the relationship between population and development. Yet, in doing so, governments must always remember that people are an asset and not a liability. The more governments recognize this, the more they will be able to put in place programmes and policies that truly advance the well-being of all persons, and thus contribute to the development of the entire human community.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


[1] International Conference on Population and Development, Chapter II, "Principles."

[2] Statistical yearbook of the Church, 2008.


Holy See Statement on "Sexual Orientation"
"Human Sexuality ... Is Not an 'Identity'"

GENEVA, MARCH 24, 2011 - Here is the address Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, permanent representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, delivered Tuesday at the 16th Session of the Human Rights Council on "sexual orientation."

* * *
Mr. President,

The Holy See takes this opportunity to affirm the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings, and to condemn all violence that is targeted against people because of their sexual feelings and thoughts, or sexual behaviors.

We would also like to make several observations about the debates regarding "sexual orientation."

First, there has been some unnecessary confusion about the meaning of the term "sexual orientation," as found in resolutions and other texts adopted within the UN human rights system. The confusion is unnecessary because, in international law, a term must be interpreted in accordance with its ordinary meaning, unless the document has given it a different meaning.[1] The ordinary meaning of "sexual orientation" refers to feelings and thoughts, not to behavior.[2]

Second, for the purposes of human rights law, there is a critical difference between feelings and thoughts, on the one hand, and behavior, on the other. A state should never punish a person, or deprive a person of the enjoyment of any human right, based just on the person's feelings and thoughts, including sexual thoughts and feelings. But states can, and must, regulate behaviors, including various sexual behaviors. Throughout the world, there is a consensus between societies that certain kinds of sexual behaviors must be forbidden by law. Pedophilia and incest are two examples.

Third, the Holy See wishes to affirm its deeply held belief that human sexuality is a gift that is genuinely expressed in the complete and lifelong mutual devotion of a man and a woman in marriage. Human sexuality, like any voluntary activity, possesses a moral dimension: It is an activity which puts the individual will at the service of a finality; it is not an "identity." In other words, it comes from the action and not from the being, even though some tendencies or "sexual orientations" may have deep roots in the personality. Denying the moral dimension of sexuality leads to denying the freedom of the person in this matter, and undermines ultimately his/her ontological dignity. This belief about human nature is also shared by many other faith communities, and by other persons of conscience.

And finally, Mr. President, we wish to call attention to a disturbing trend in some of these social debates: People are being attacked for taking positions that do not support sexual behavior between people of the same sex. When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature, which may also be expressions of religious convictions, or state opinions about scientific claims, they are stigmatized, and worse -- they are vilified, and prosecuted. These attacks contradict the fundamental principles announced in three of the Council's resolutions of this session.[3] The truth is, these attacks are violations of fundamental human rights, and cannot be justified under any circumstances.

Thank you, Mr. President.


[1] Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties, Article 31(1): "A treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose" (emphasis added). Article 31(4): " A special meaning shall be given to a term if it is established that the parties so intended. " These rules of treaty interpretation are based on customary international law, and are applicable to "soft law."

[2] Moreover, many publications have given definitions of "sexual orientation," and all of the ones that we have seen are similar: they do not refer to behavior; they refer to sexual feelings and thoughts. E.g.:

(1) "sexual orientation means the general attraction you feel towards" another person or persons. Equality Commission (The United Kingdom); See,, under "What does sexual orientation mean?

(2) "sexual orientation may be broadly defined as a preference for sexual partners …." International Labour Office, ABC of Women Workers' Rights and Gender Equality (2nd ed., 2007), p. 167). A "preference" is a mental-emotional state; it is not conduct.

(3) "sexual orientation refers to a person's sexual and emotional attraction to people …." Amnesty International, Crimes of Hate, Conspiracy of Silence (Amnesty International Publications, London, 2001), p. vii (emphasis omitted).

(4) "'Sexual orientation' refers to each person's capacity for profound emotional, affectional and sexual attraction to, and intimate and sexual relations …." Asia Pacific Forum, ACJ Report: Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (15th Annual Meeting, Bali, 3-5 Aug. 2010), p. 8.

[3] L-10 on freedom of opinion and expression; L.14 on freedom of religion or belief; L. 38 on combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization.


Holy See on Redefining "Gender"
"This Agenda ... Calls Into Question the Very Foundation of the Human Rights System"

NEW YORK, MARCH 18, 2011 - Here is the address given Monday by Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, at the 55th session of UNESCO's Commission on the Status of Women.

* * *

Mr. Chairman,

The Holy See strongly affirms the need to respect the inherent dignity and worth of all women and girls, which are fundamental to their authentic advancement.

It is noteworthy that the Charter of the United Nations, in preambular paragraph 2, calls for the "equality between women and men," a call that is repeated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in preambular paragraph 5. The UDHR also prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex (Art. 2). This recognition is essential to the future of the human race and all its members. In addition, the UDHR acknowledges the equal rights of a man and a woman to marry and found a family, the natural and fundamental unit of society (Art. 16). This recognition is essential to the future of the human race and all its members. The 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) also prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex (Art. 2), recognizes "the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights" (Art. 3) and repeats the language found in art. 16 of the UDHR (Art. 23). The 1979 Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women continues along these lines (Art. 1).

As the Conclusions refer to the term "gender", my delegation wishes to recall that, since the early 1990s it was gradually introduced into non-binding documents negotiated by State Parties, and has been commonly used to refer to the two sexes, male and female. In treaty law, the only definition of "gender" which binds State Parties is that contained in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which states that "the term 'gender' refers to the two sexes, male and female, within the context of society. The term 'gender' does not indicate any meaning different" from the aforementioned definition (Art. 7.3).

It is worth remembering that during the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, a different and radical understanding of gender had been circulated during informal discussions, but was rejected. Moreover, the President of the Fourth World Conference on Women, on the recommendation of a large body of Member States, explicitly stated at that Conference that "the word 'gender' had been commonly used and understood in its ordinary, generally accepted usage." That is, gender refers to "male" and "female"-the generally and historically accepted usage. This statement also emphasized that no "new meaning or connotation of the term, different from accepted prior usage," had been intended (cf. Report of the Fourth World Conference on Women Beijing, 4-15 September 1995, Statement by the President of the Conference on the commonly understood meaning of the term "gender", 2-3, A/CONF.177/20/Rev.1). It is noteworthy that, at that time, the Holy See consistently reaffirmed its understanding of gender, and does so again today.

Unfortunately during the negotiations of the present text, some delegations attempted to advance once again, through the vehicle of "gender studies," a radical definition of "gender," which asserts that sexual identity can somehow be adapted indefinitely to suit new and different purposes, not recognized in international law. In response, in the present text, a new preambular paragraph was adopted with a view to eliminating doubts about the promotion of a new definition of "gender". Such an agenda has no place in any document sponsored by the United Nations, let alone one concerning women and girls. Rightly, during negotiations many delegations reaffirmed the use of "gender" as referring to "women and men," or male and female, according to its ordinarily agreed usage before, during and after negotiation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

The attempt to re-define gender is also linked to the missing reference to the UDHR, in the present text. The UDHR, the foundational document of the human rights system, acknowledges the inherent dignity and worth of every human person, male and female. Yet some of those promoting a re-definition of gender opposed reference to the UDHR in the face of overwhelming support for its inclusion, and equally opposed reference to "the inherent dignity and worth of women and men," a bedrock principle of the human rights system. In light of these trends, the international community should be aware that this agenda to re-define "gender," in turn, calls into question the very foundation of the human rights system.

In addition, this radical approach is also connected to the missing reference to the "rights" of parents, in particular, their right to choose the education for their children, including education about authentic human love, marriage, and the family. The rights of parents are specified in the UDHR, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Several attempts to include parental rights' language to stand alongside the term parental responsibilities were rebuffed. This is a grave matter, when one considers that parental rights and duties are firmly rooted in international law, and that parental rights are correlative with duties, the former being necessary to carry out the latter (cf. UDHR, art. 26.3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, art. 18; Convention on the Rights of the Child, arts. 3.2, 5, 14.2).

In closing, my delegation takes the opportunity to reaffirm all of the Holy See's reservations on past occasions with regard to the meaning of the term "sexual and reproductive health," which should not include abortion or abortion services. Moreover, the Holy See in no way endorses contraception or the use of condoms, either as a family planning measure or as part of HIV/AIDS prevention programmes or classes/programmes of education in sexuality. The Holy See - as well as many women in the world - is convinced that the true advancement of women is strongly linked to the recognition and the effective implementation of their rights, dignity and responsibilities. Women and men are both called to welcome, protect and foster these, for a renewed commitment towards humanity.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Holy See Statement on Sustainable Development
"The Economy Needs Objective Moral Formation in Order to Function Correctly"
NEW YORK, MARCH 9, 2011 - Here is the address Charles Clark, professor of economics at St. John's University, delivered Monday on behalf of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations to the Second Preparatory Committee for the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development.

* * *

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset my delegation expresses its gratitude for the invitation extended to the Holy See to participate in this PrepCom, as it did exactly twenty years ago during the fourth PrepCom in March 1992 just before the Rio Conference where we agreed that the human beings are at the center of our concern.

The promotion of sustainable development is one of the most important challenges humanity faces today. As the main forum for dialogue on global issues, the United Nations as the “Family of Nations” will necessarily serve a key role in promoting international cooperation towards this goal. These preparatory meetings will provide a useful opportunity for Governments and civil society to discuss how the international community can best achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication. My delegation hopes that this second round of preparatory meetings for the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development will be successful, trusts that all concerns will be heard and addressed in mutual respect and in a spirit of goodwill, and proposes its own small contribution in this same spirit. Above all, we must acknowledge that the human beings must remain the center of our focus and basis of our actions for sustainable development.

While many have suggested that this committee should focus exclusively on “strategies” and “best practices” and avoid “theoretical debates,” in the view of my delegation it would be helpful to restate the principles that need to guide development strategies and policies lest our efforts create policies that could be harmful. This is particularly the case when we are considering concepts such as the proposed adoption of the theme of “green economy” as the Committee’s Report recommends. In pursuing the goal of “Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication” (GESDPE), my delegation hopes that we would not forget that the purpose of development is integral human development and that all our strategies and practices must be judged by this standard — for the human beings are and must remain at the center of our concern.

Many years ahead of the Earth Summit, the Holy See called for a new perspective on development that promotes the “authentic human development” of all persons and the whole person. This vision of development is not in opposition to economic growth and progress; instead, it is a recognition that economic growth, whether it is driven by markets or driven by States, will not necessarily promote the kind of development that is worthy of humans. Promoting economic development should not be at the expense of the poor and marginalized or of future generations, which is often qualified as “inter-generational engagement and justice”. The well-being of all, and especially those who live with the pains of hunger and who are excluded from contributing to and benefiting from the economic, social and political life of their communities, requires that both markets and government policies be directed towards the higher goal of integral human development, grounded in the principle of the fundamental human dignity of each person. With them, it is our solemn obligation to remain in solidarity. We all must work together to ensure that this is incorporated into the goal of sustainable development and the concept of the “green economy.”

Most of the development strategies and policies that have failed to promote integral human development in the past have done so because they reduced humans to a shadow of their humanity. On the one hand we are told that self-interest and greed are the sole drivers of human behavior, and that “free markets” are all that is needed to turn “private vice into public virtue.” On the other hand we are told that human nature is what society makes it, giving us a development strategy that centers on structures and institutions, with the hope that the right institutions will be enough to promote development. Each view has part of the truth: humans often are driven by self-interest and social institutions do greatly shape human attitudes and actions, markets and government policy both have potential to promote the common good. But humanity cannot be reduced to either selfish egos or social constructs. A full understanding of what it means to be human must also include the basic solidarity that is a necessary part of our humanity, that comports to the fundamental dignity of each person and that demands justice. Just as we need to improve the functioning of markets and the effectiveness of government policy, we must also work to promote solidarity and social justice.

Real development will not and cannot be produced by changes in structures or market incentives alone. Of equal importance is the required change of hearts and minds as well as our subsequent action. Benedict XVI wrote: “integral human development is primarily a vocation” (Caritas in veritate, 11), for development to be meaningful and sustainable it has to be human development, the development of each human in the totality of their humanity, directed towards the common good. If our view of the Green Economy in the context of Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication (GESDPE) is based on either of the two narrow views of personhood, then the strategies developed will center only on “structural and technological changes in the institutions” and will in the end fail to promote authentic human development. Structural and technological changes will only promote real development if they are used to help people become more human. When they do not promote human development they risk becoming tools of social control and exclusion. The economy needs objective moral formation in order to function correctly -- not any ethics whatsoever, but a moral formation which is people-centered” (CV 45).

An economy grounded in a people-centered ethics and morality will necessarily promote the goals of GESDPE, for it will promote both the care of humans and the care of creation. Such an approach must recognize that the economy starts with several vital gifts: first, the gift of creation to all humans and, second, the sharing of that gift between humans. An economy not grounded in a people-centered ethics and morality will undoubtedly instrumentalize the goods of the earth for the benefit of the rich and powerful. It will turn social and environmental indicators, which can be valuable tools for helping to promote authentic human development, into statistical fixations and false goals that give the appearance of progress without producing the reality of true progress.

Or worse, they can become excuses for sacrificing human rights and assaulting human dignity, all for a distorted view of the common good. If humans in their full humanity are not viewed as the ultimate goal of development as was agreed in Rio twenty years ago, then we fear that humans will be seen by many as the primary barrier to development and we can be certain which humans these will be: the poor; the marginalized; the inconvenient; those yet to be born and those who due to age, disability or illness cannot defend themselves.

My delegation hopes that this Committee work will set the stage for a re-commitment to sustainable development at Rio+20. It may be a coincidence that this important conference corresponds to the 45th anniversary of the late Pope Paul VI’s landmark encyclical “Populorum Progessio” (Development of Peoples), considered themagna carta of development. We hope that it will also become a clarion call to people of goodwill for an integral human development that will form the foundation for peace, founded on social justice and animated by solidarity.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman


Address of Holy See to UN on Food Security
"The Right to Food Is … Intrinsically Linked to the Right to Life"

GENEVA, Switzerland, MARCH 9, 2011 - Here is the address Archbishop Silvano Tomasi delivered Tuesday at the 16th ordinary session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva regarding food security.

* * *

Mr. President,

1. The right to food is a basic right because it is intrinsically linked to the right to life. Almost a billion people, however, do not enjoy this right. The challenge for the world's community is "to tackle one of the gravest challenges of our time: freeing millions of human beings from hunger, whose lives are in danger due to a lack of daily bread."

Two conditions are involved: there must be safe food available in sufficient quantity; each person should have access to food. Special attention should be directed to the 2.5 billion people dependent on agriculture for their daily sustenance. Among this population are found most of the people who suffer from malnutrition and hunger. Solutions exist to improve the situation, but they demand vigorous action by the governments and peoples of the countries concerned. The international community is also expected to act. My Delegation would like to indicate some conditions it thinks necessary for the enjoyment of the human right to food and the development of policies of food security as a prerequisite for self-sufficiency.

2. First, it is necessary to recognize and strengthen the central role of agriculture in economic activity; thus, to reduce malnutrition in rural areas, production per person must increase in order to enhance local, regional or national food independence. Investments to improve productivity are required in the areas of seeds, training, sharing of tools for cultivation and of the means for marketing. Structural changes are also demanded according to the specificity of individual states. For example, we must ensure security of land tenure for farmers, especially for those with small landholdings. The customary right of land ownership may be reconsidered. A clear property right gives the farmer the opportunity to pledge his land in exchange for seasonal credit to purchase necessary inputs. In addition, the aim of land tenure has now become increasingly important in the face of the expansion of the phenomenon of land grabs. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 80% of the land is occupied by poor who have no land titles. In addition, membership in cooperatives and access to information services would strengthen productivity.

3. We must ensure that food flows to those who need it. The current food crises have shown that some regions are facing serious shortfalls, and in areas that traditionally produce food the stocks are now exhausted or limited. These circumstances entail strong restrictions to food aid in emergency situations. The smooth flow of food products involves several conditions: local markets should be efficient, transparent and open; information must flow efficiently; investment in roads, transport and storage of crops is indispensable. Barriers to exports that have been decided by sovereign states must be limited. These barriers temporarily exacerbate deficits in importing countries and strongly raise prices; finally, food aid that plays a vital role in cases of disasters must not disrupt local agricultural production. For example, the distribution of large amounts of food either free or cheap can ruin the farmers of the region who can no longer sell their products. In so doing, we jeopardize the future of local agriculture.

4. Adequate measures, therefore, should be taken to protect farmers against price volatility which has a strong impact on food security for several reasons: high prices make food unaffordable for the poor and low prices give farmers the incorrect information on needed seedlings after harvest for the following year. To prevent price volatility or at least weaken its impact, local food crops need to be protected against sudden disruptions in international prices. The customs duty at the entrance of an importing country (or the cyclical adjustment of special and differential treatment) must take into account both the needs of poor consumers and secondly the price to be paid to small farmers so they may afford a dignified standard of living and promote production. Speculation should be limited to the actors necessary for the proper functioning of the future markets. Governments should refrain from introducing measures that increase volatility, and are called to reconsider that food cannot be like any commodity, a matter of speculation or an instrument of political pressure. The establishment of regional stockpiles of raw food (cereals, oil, sugar) can have a twofold benefit: these stocks can be sold at an affordable price in case of shock and they can play a moderating role against the volatility of local prices.

5. The availability of food is not a sufficient factor to ensure food for everyone. People must have sufficient income to purchase food or food should have an affordable price for the poor. This raises the question of a comprehensive safety net that may consist in making available food products at subsidized prices for the poorest people at a regional level. The level of subsidy would vary according to the market price so that the cost of subsidized food can remain stable. It is illusory to believe there is a "good price" for wheat or corn. The price that a poor consumer may be able to pay may not correspond with what a small African farmer needs to live. We must construct mechanisms that bridge the gap between these two prices and for the poorest countries solidarity requires that they be internationally funded.

6. A recent development in the world search for food security regards the purchase or rent of large extensions of arable land on the part of foreign organizations in countries other than their own. It seems a reasonable precondition to require that the people who are in the area should be respected, included in the project, and that the level of food security in the region should be increased. This said, investment in hunger and agriculture is essential to eradicate hunger and malnutrition.

7. In conclusion, Mr. President, food insecurity is not inevitable, given the vast agricultural and pastoral areas to be exploited still. With a concerted and determined action sustained by the ethical conviction that the human family is one and must move forward in solidarity, urban and rural populations together, the right to food can be implemented for every person.


Archbishop Tomasi's Address to UN Rights Council
"At the Heart of Fundamental Human Rights Is Freedom of Religion, Conscience and Belief"

GENEVA, MARCH 7, 2011 - Here is the address Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent representative of the Holy See to the U.N. offices in Geneva, delivered March 2 at the XVI ordinary session of the Human Rights Council on religious freedom.

* * *

Mr. President,

1. At the heart of fundamental human rights is freedom of religion, conscience and belief: it affects personal identity and basic choices and it makes possible the enjoyment of other human rights. As the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Religious Discrimination recognises, the spiritual dimension of life is a vital part of human existence.[1] But an increased proliferation of episodes of discrimination and acts of violence against persons and communities of faith and places of worship in several different geographical regions of the world denies in practice the principle proclaimed in law. Religious strife is a danger to social, political, and economic development. Religious conflict polarizes society, breaking the bonds necessary for social life and commerce to flourish. It produces violence, which robs people of the most fundamental right of all, the right to life. And it sows seeds of distrust and bitterness that can be passed down through the generations. Often impunity and media neglect follow such tragedies. A recent survey shows that out of 100 people killed because of religious hatred, 75 are Christian.[2] That concentration of religious discrimination should cause concern to all of us. But the Holy See's purpose in this intervention is to reaffirm the importance of the right to freedom of religion for all individuals, for all communities of faith, and for every society, in all parts of the world.

2. The State has the duty to defend the right to freedom of religion and it has therefore the responsibility to create an environment where this right can be enjoyed. As stated in the Declaration on Religious Discrimination and elsewhere, the State has to fulfil several duties in the everyday functioning of society. For example, the State must not practice religious discrimination -- in its laws, in its policies, or by allowing de facto discrimination by public employees. It must promote religious tolerance and understanding throughout society, a goal that can be achieved if educational systems teach respect for all and judicial systems are impartial in the implementation of laws and reject political pressure aimed at ensuring impunity for perpetrators of human rights crimes against followers of particular religion. The State should support all initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue and mutual respect between religious communities. It must enforce its laws that fight against religious discrimination -- vigorously, and without selectivity. The State must provide physical security to religious communities under attack. It must encourage majority populations to enable religious minorities to practice their faith individually and in community without threat or hindrance. The State must have laws that require employers to make "reasonable accommodations" for an employee's religion.

3. Freedom of religion is a value for society as a whole. The State that protects this right enables society to benefit from the social consequences that come with it: peaceful coexistence, national integration in today's pluralistic situations, increased creativity as the talents of everyone are placed at the service of the common good. On the other hand, the negation of religious freedom undermines any democratic aspiration, favours oppression, and stifles the whole society that eventually explodes with tragic results. From this angle as well it is clear that freedom of religion and conviction is complementary and intrinsically linked to freedom of opinion, expression and assembly. Besides, an environment of real freedom of religion becomes the best medicine to prevent the manipulation of religion for political purposes of power grabbing and power maintenance and for the oppression of dissenters and of different faith communities or religious minorities. In fact, religious discrimination and strife are rarely, if ever, solely the product of differences in religious opinions and practices. Below the surface are social and political problems.

4. To reap the social benefits of religious freedom specific measures need to be devised that allow the practical exercise of this right to flourish. Mr. President, I would like to highlight some measures at the U.N. level. The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion could be invited regularly to include information on persecution of religious groups. It would be helpful if the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner of Human Rights were to monitor the situation of governmental and societal restrictions on religious freedom and report annually to the Human Rights Council. Article 20 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights[3], which pertains to advocacy of religious hatred that incites religious discrimination, raises important questions, such as the relation between various rights, and about the best ways to achieve legitimate aims. Blasphemy laws are a case in point. The workshops mandated to study Article 20, and to propose good practices, are a step in the right direction.

5. I will conclude, Mr. President, by calling attention to three false perceptions surrounding freedom of religion and belief. In the first place, the right to express or practice one's religion is not limited to acts of worship. It also includes the right to express one's faith through acts of charitable and social service. For example, providing health and education through religious institutions are important ways for people to live their faith.[4] Second, faith communities have their own rules for qualifications for religious office, and for serving in religious institutions, including charitable facilities. These religious institutions are part of civil society, and not branches of the state. Consequently, the limits that international human rights law places on States regarding qualifications on state office holding and public service do not apply automatically to non-state actors. As acknowledged by the Declaration on Religious Discrimination, freedom of religion entails the right of a religious community to set its own qualifications.[5]

Religious tolerance includes respecting differences of opinions in these matters, and respecting the difference between a state and a religious institution. And finally, there is a fear that respecting the freedom to choose and practice another religion, different from one's own, is based on a premise that all truth is relative and that one's religion is no longer absolutely valid. That is a misunderstanding. The right to adopt, and to change, a religion is based on respect for human dignity: the State must allow each person to freely search for the truth.

6. Mr President, the State has an ethical and legal obligation to uphold and make applicable the right to freedom of religion or conviction both because it is a fundamental human right, and because it is its duty to defend the rights of its citizens and to seek the welfare of society. As His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI stated in addressing the diplomatic corps, religious freedom is "the fundamental path to peace. Peace is built and preserved only when human beings can freely seek and serve God in their hearts, in their lives and in their relationships with others."[6]


[1] Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, General Assembly Res. 36/55 (1981); e.g., fourth preambular paragraph.

[2] Cfr., Aid to the Church in Need, Religious Freedom in the World – Report 2010; Conference Persecution of Christians organized by the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community, the European Parliamentary Groups of the European People's Party and the European Conservatives and Reformist's Group on October 10, 2011

[3] Article 20 : "1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law. 2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law."

[4] See, for example, Article 6(b), Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

[5] Article 6(g), Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

[6] His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps. 10 January 2011.


Holy See Address to UN Meeting on Women
"Education Is a Key to the Authentic Advancement of Women in the World"

NEW YORK, MARCH 5, 2011 - Here is the Feb. 28 statement of the Holy See delegation to the Economic and Social Council’s 55th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

* * *

Mr. Chairman,

On the occasion of this fifty-fifth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), my delegation takes this opportunity to focus on the priority and review themes presently under consideration. In this regard, my delegation continues to emphasize that education is a key to the authentic advancement of women in the world. Education not only helps the woman who pursues it, but also the community to which she belongs.

In this context, each and every person has great potential. A real education unlocks that potential and forms the person so as to be properly prepared to make a concrete contribution to family life as well as that of the community and society as a whole. The principles by which educational agencies, institutions and schools operate must be firmly rooted in a profound respect for human dignity and with full respect for religious and cultural values. If this is absent, then education is no longer a means of authentic enlightenment but becomes a tool of control by those who administer it.

Values rooted in the natural law common to humanity play a key role in the proper education of the human person. This needs to be better understood and more actively promoted for the authentic advancement of women. Those who receive an education become wise members of society who can properly choose and pursue that which is good personally and communally and avoid that which is not good for the self and for others. Primary education should focus on basic skills and it must fully respect the primary role of parents regarding their children, especially in, but not limited to, the area of human sexuality.

The provision of quality primary education is especially necessary for children who live in developing countries. Studies have consistently demonstrated that basic education is a key to overcoming poverty and thus a guarantor of the sustainable development of communities and societies.

In this regard, it is important to recognize the outstanding contribution of countless consecrated women religious who are engaged especially in poverty reduction, health and education, and have been at the forefront of helping children in countries around the world, devoting special attention to those especially in developing countries. These women engage in selfless service to help such children come to a greater appreciation of their inherent worth.

Given the many technological advancements of today, it is important that children be given the education necessary to take advantage of the communications media. Equally important, they need to be educated about the inherent dangers in such technology, especially the Internet, and receive proper guidance in this regard.

Mr. Chairman,

For some time now in this Commission, emphasis has been given to the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work. In this regard, the whole labor process must be organized and adapted to respect the requirements of the person and his or her forms of life, above all life in the home, taking into account the individual’s age and sex.

In many societies today women work in nearly every sector of life. However, they should be able to fulfill their tasks in accordance with their own authentic nature, without being discriminated against and without being excluded from jobs for which they are capable, with full respect for their family aspirations and for their specific role in contributing, together with men, to the common good of society.

The true advancement of women requires that labor should be structured in such a way that women do not have to pay for their advancement by abandoning what is specific to them and at the expense of the family, in which women and mothers have an irreplaceable role. As foundational instruments of the United Nations Organization rightly point out, the family, founded on the marriage between a man and woman, is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State (cf., Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 16,3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Art. 23,1). For this reason, women who choose marriage must be supported, as should their husbands and their children. Civil legislation regarding marriage ought to protect the family which is necessary for the preservation and increase of the human community.

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation must stress that violence and unjust discrimination against girls must never be tolerated. For this reason all States must enact and enforce legislation to protect girls from all forms of violence and exploitation, from conception onwards, including abortion, especially sex-selective abortion, female infanticide, female genital mutilation, rape, domestic violence, incest, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, child prostitution and child pornography, trafficking and forced migration, forced labor, and forced marriage as well as marriage under legal age.

States must also develop, where they have not already done so, appropriate support services to assist girls who have suffered violence and unjust discrimination.A tragically high number of girls are particularly vulnerable: orphans, children living on the street, internally displaced and refugee children, children affected by trafficking and sexual and economic exploitation, children living with HIV/AIDS and children who are incarcerated without parental support.

States must address the needs of such children by implementing policies and strategies to build and strengthen governmental, community and family capacities to provide a supportive environment for such children, including by offering appropriate counseling and psychosocial support as well as by ensuring their enrollment in school and access to shelter, good nutrition and social services on an equal basis with other children.

Mr. Chairman,

Taking up the issue of human trafficking, my delegation cannot stress enough that this form of modern slavery must end and it must end now! All States have a serious responsibility to devise, enforce and strengthen effective child and youth protection to combat, eliminate and prosecute all forms of trafficking in women and children, including for sexual and economic exploitation, as part of a comprehensive anti-trafficking strategy within wider efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women and children, taking effective measures against the criminalization of women and children who are victims of exploitation and ensuring that women and children who have been exploited receive access to the necessary psychosocial support.

International instruments have been effectively contributing toward an end to trafficking in persons. Yet States need to augment concrete and concerted efforts to work together to put an end to this heinous crime by addressing adequately the demand side of trafficking in persons by strengthening laws against prostitution of children and adults, child pornography and sexual exploitation.The authentic advancement of women begins with full respect for the dignity and worth of all persons. Such respect must take into account the entire life cycle - from conception to natural death - and States have the responsibility to ensure this in their national legislations.

Mr. Chairman,

The authentic advancement of women necessarily entails recognition of the deep fundamental anthropological truths about man and woman, the equality of their dignity and the unity of both, the well-rooted and profound diversity between the masculine and the feminine and their vocation to reciprocity and complementarity, to collaboration and to communion. The more we respect this truth of human nature, the more we will be able to confront the challenges which continue to face women today and assist them on the road to authentic advancement around the world.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Holy See's Address to UN on Poverty Eradication
"Authentic Development Requires Fostering the Development of Each Human Being"

NEW YORK, FEB. 15, 2011 - Here is the address delivered last Friday by Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, to the 49th session of the Commission for Social Development of the U.N. Economic and Social Council. The theme of the meeting was "Poverty Eradication."

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Mr. Chairman,

At the outset my Delegation extends its best wishes to you and the Bureau for a productive session and looks forward to a successful discussion on the important theme of poverty eradication.

The subject of poverty eradication is of supreme importance to the Holy See. Motivated by the "preferential option for the poor," the Holy See currently works in every region of the world to achieve poverty eradication for all people.

The last two decades have seen continued progress towards addressing and reducing global poverty. However, this progress remains uneven with many regions of the world still failing to see substantial progress and over one billion people still living in extreme poverty and hunger. For example, over 1.5 billion have no access to electricity, and over one billion still live without access to clean water. After the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen (12 March 1995), the global community sees evidence of hope and optimism in the field of social development. Nevertheless, against the backdrop of the recent world economic and financial crisis, millions of our brothers and sisters go hungry every day and struggle amidst surmounting poverty.

The international community urgently needs to find proposals for a durable and enduring solution to this problem. At the Copenhagen Summit, the Holy See promoted a vision of social development which is "political, economic, ethical and spiritual... with full respect for religious and ethical values and the cultural patrimony of persons". My delegation continues to believe that this heuristic view of human development is necessary; development cannot be measured only in terms of economic growth and eradication of poverty cannot be based only on measurable economic outcome. Rather, authentic development requires fostering the development of each human being and of the whole human being.

Without the accompanying ethical and spiritual dimension, social development lacks the necessary foundation upon which it should be built and sustained. At the centre of development is recognizing the dignity of the human person and ensuring full respect for man's innate dignity and fundamental rights. This ethical foundation must link individuals, families, generations, and peoples – irrespective of class and distinction that are based on politics, economic position or social status. This calls for renewed forms of cooperation and a more decisive commitment by all. In that sense, the primary capital to be safeguarded and valued is the human person in his or her integrity: "[the] human being is the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life."

As we prepare for the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family, drafting a programme for social development must give due recognition to the most basic social institution, the human family, founded on marriage. The institution of the family, which is a sine qua non for preparing the future generation, is being challenged by many factors in the modern world and the family needs to be defended and safeguarded. Children should not be seen as a burden but instead must be recognized as irreplaceable gifts. We must also acknowledge publicly that they are the builders of future generations. Often overlooked are the procreative and educational mission of parents and the intergenerational engagement experienced best in families. When a society is deprived of its basic unit, the family, and the social relationships that emerge from it, great psychological and spiritual suffering, even amidst economic and social well-being, can ensue.

As Pope Benedict XVI, stated: "It is thus becoming a social and even economic necessity once more to hold up to future generations the beauty of marriage and the family, and the fact that these institutions correspond to the deepest needs and dignity of the person. In view of this, States are called to enact policies promoting the centrality and the integrity of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, the primary vital cell of society, and to assume responsibility for its economic and fiscal needs, while respecting its essentially relational character."

While policy makers often state that population growth is detrimental to development, the reality is that where economic growth has increased, it is often accompanied with population increases. In developed regions, we are now witnessing dwindling and ageing populations and many nations are struggling to maintain social services and economic growth as the ratio of workers to non-workers decreases. In the developing regions, we are witnessing an unprecedented decline in fertility / birth rate – a decline advocated often as the best means to achieve development. However, many nations in the developing world are now at risk of "growing old before they grow rich."

The future generations of children and youth are in fact the best and only means of overcoming social and economic problems. Poverty is caused not by too many children, but by too little investment and support in the development of children. Human history teaches us that if there is sufficient investment in children they will grow up to contribute far in excess of what they have consumed, thereby raising the standard of living for all. It is their strong hands and able minds that will feed the hungry, cure the sick, and build homes for the homeless. Societies and humanity itself need an internal support and substratum to survive. But if this natural support is threatened, the culture will wither. In brief, promoting a culture that is open to life and based on the family is fundamental to realizing the full potential and the authentic development of the society for both today and the future.

Furthermore, social integration policies must be motivated by the common good, which goes beyond the good of the individual but must include all elements of society: individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute the society. As such, even at this international level, we must be mindful of the essential role of smaller social groups, starting with the family, in poverty eradication. International efforts should foster and augment, not replace, the legitimate function of intermediate groups at the local level. The common good belongs to the entire social community and the whole human family.
In the proper effort for promoting social integration for the entire human family, globalization has provided new avenues for economic and civil cooperation; however, "as society becomes ever more globalized, it makes us neighbours but does not make us brothers and sisters". An authentic and durable social development can be attained through real social measures and incentives originating from fraternal solidarity and charity.

Some of the biggest challenges to social integration and cohesion are, first, the inequality in wealth and incomes as well as in human capital and education, and second, the lack of access to all sectors of society especially by the poor and other disregarded groups such as women and children. Increasing disparities in income and access to economic growth have limited the effectiveness of economic growth in reducing poverty. While informal social protection mechanisms have played a vital role in fostering a more just economic civil system, efforts to expand social programs in education, health care for the ageing, disabled and the other needy sectors of the society must be done in a manner which promotes the essential right to life and which respects the freedom of conscience of service providers who care for those in need. Moreover, social protection programs must avoid creating dependency; rather, they should seek to provide assistance and the tools necessary to promote individual and community renewal and self-support. In the familial and other informal social protection mechanisms, NGOs and local religious organizations can play an important role.

In closing, Mr. Chairman, my delegation would like to draw attention to the plight of migrants. In these troubled times, extra efforts are needed to defend their human rights and to respect their inalienable human dignity. Social integration and poverty eradication programs must take into account the millions of these brothers and sisters who are destined to live outside of their own country and on the margins of the societies. Full respect for their fundamental rights, including their rights as workers, must be duly ensured by countries of transition and destination. Social justice demands favourable working conditions for these souls, ensuring their psychological stability, avoiding new forms of economic marginalization and guaranteeing their individual freedom and creativity.

In conclusion, what is needed today is a strategic approach towards poverty eradication based on true social justice in order to help reduce the suffering of millions of our brothers and sisters. Authentic social development policies must address not only the economic and political needs, but also the spiritual and ethical dimension of each human person. In this manner, every individual in the society can be free from all forms of poverty, both material and spiritual.


Message for Holy Land Peace Day
"We Want Peace ... Beginning in Jerusalem!"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 15, 2010 - Here is a translation of the message sent by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace for the Third International Day of Intercession for Peace in the Holy Land. The letter, dated Nov. 16 and released today, is signed by Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the dicastery, and Bishop Mario Toso, its secretary.

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"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God" (Matthew 5:9)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In view of the Third International Day of Intercession for Peace in the Holy Land, which will be held Jan. 29-30, 2011, we wish to send our greeting and encouragement to support your moment of confident prayer.

The Church has always made an effort to spread the message of peace, strengthened also by the words that the Risen One addressed to the disciples gathered in the Cenacle: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you" (John 14:27). Thus, it has committed itself in the different historical stages to support all those initiatives and activities that could sensitize every man and woman of good will to become not only heralds, but also agents of peace. It did so especially in those regions of the world in which there was suffering because of injustice, violence and persecutions. Today, the very important topic of peace and the search for it are more timely than ever. While we are again grateful to the Lord for the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops that ended recently, our thought goes today to the Holy Land, blessed by God with wonderful events of the history of Salvation, especially the Incarnation of the Word in Jesus Christ.

Benedict XVI's appeal in the homily during the Holy Mass to close the synod cannot leave us indifferent. As the Holy Father remarked, "the cry of the poor and the oppressed finds an immediate echo in God, who wishes to intervene to open a way out, to restore a future of liberty, an horizon of hope."

The Third International Day of Intercession for Peace in the Holy Land, sponsored by this pontifical council, is born from the desire to be involved concretely and strongly, living also a day of prayer.

This day gathers different associations, brothers and sisters of every region, and solicits them to make their voice heard in the whole world saying: We want peace, reconciliation and unity, beginning in Jerusalem!

We hope that this initiative, known already by many, will again be more appreciated and diffused, as the prayerful contribution of believers of the whole world in support of the Civilization of Love.

May Mary, Regina Pacis, obtain the blessing of God on all those who support and promote this day, and on all those who seek peace with a sincere heart!

Rome, Nov. 16, 2010

Cardinal Peter Turkson, president

Bishop Mario Toso, secretary


Cardinal's Address to Justice and Peace Congress
"Christians Are Called to Be Peacemakers"
BERLIN, Germany, DEC. 11, 2010 - Here is an address by Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, during a congress of the German Bishops' Conference Commission for Justice and Peace, which was held Nov. 25-27 in Berlin. The theme of the congress was "Wars of Today, Peace of Tomorrow."

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Your Excellencies, My Lord Archbishops and Bishops, Distinguished invited Guests and all you dear Friends: I bring you greetings from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; and on its behalf, I bring you prayerful wishes for a successful congress.

"There are many books, films, and documentaries that talk about war, people often spend a lot of energy watching the horrors that war causes and the suffering of those who endure them. And every now and then somebody gets up and cries: 'Never again!' But inevitably everything starts all over again."

These are the first lines of Difendersi senza aggredire,[1] a book written by Pat Patfoort, a Belgian anthropologist engaged in conflict mediation. The message is clear: it's not enough to show and to document the atrocities of war. The risk, in fact, is that people begin to look at everything with detachment, as if war was a show, or with indifference, since it's always possible to switch over to another TV-channel. War ceases thus to be "real"; it becomes something that happens "somewhere else" and doesn't concern us, that doesn't affect our personal and social conditions, what we consider "our world.

From Indifference to Consciousness:

We must therefore overcome indifference and turn it into consciousness. In fact, although we may be physically far from the arena of war, we cannot be morally and spiritually distanced from it. The shortness of our memory makes things worse, for it makes war ever more possible and likely. We get used to seeing one region of the world living in peace, while another region sees people dying because of a war. It makes us believe that war is and has been the lot of man right from the time, when Cain killed his brother Abel. So, it makes us develop an attitude of indifference: an atarassia, feeling that neither war nor peace depends on us.

But that's just not true! It is becoming increasingly clear, especially in today's world, how a seemingly "small" and "local" conflict can trigger "global" consequences. But there is still another reason, a deeper one: war and peace originate in the heart of man, and it's impossible to have a divided heart. So, war, to some extent, affects everyone, and peace concerns everyone.

A very lucid picture of this reality was offered by Pope Paul VI in his Message for the World Day of Peace in 1974, dedicated to the theme: Peace Depends on You Too. Addressing himself to everyone, believers and non believers alike, the Pope reminds us that:

"The present moment of history, marked as it is by fierce outbreaks of international conflict, by implacable class warfare, outbursts of revolutionary freedoms, the crushing of human rights and fundamental liberties, and by unforeseen symptoms of worldwide economic instability, seems to be destroying the triumphant ideal of Peace as if it were the statue of an idol. In place of the pale and timid abstraction with which Peace seems to be treated in recent political experience and thought, preference is once more being given to the realism of facts and interests, and man is once more thought of as a permanently insoluble problem of a living self-conflict. Man is likened to a being that bears in his heart the destiny of fraternal strife. In the face of this crude and re-emerging realism, we propose not a purely notional concept of Peace, undermined by the reality of new and crushing experiences, but an indomitable idealism -that of Peace- destined to be affirmed progressively. Brethren, men of good will, wise men, suffering people, believe our humble and repeated words, our untiring plea. Peace is the ideal of mankind. Peace is necessary. Peace is a duty. Peace is beneficial."

A Shared Responsibility

After almost forty years, the call of Pope Paul VI for shared responsibility is as real and pertinent as ever. The era of Pope Paul VI was that of the Cold War, when people thought that somehow everything would end with the decline of the great "ideological blocs and the fall of the Iron Curtain." But that's not what happened. The end of the Cold War was directly followed by other conflicts. The dream that the end of the Cold War would make for a passage from an equilibrium of fear, based on nuclear deterrence, to a new order, based on peace and cooperation,[2] seems to have vanished with the terrorist attacks in New York, on September 11th, 2001 and the advent of international terrorism.

The Indian theologian Michael Amaladoss notes that:
"Wars have always been part of history [...] but the twentieth century of our era has been marked by violence in a special way. We have witnessed a kind of globalization and democratization of war and violence. We had two World Wars that affected not only armies, but cities and civilians populations, to the point that more non-belligerents were killed than soldiers. The dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki marked a new stage of violence and terror. The emergence of more independent nations, after the end of the colonial period in the middle of last century, has generated a growing number of local conflicts, because smaller groups are trying to ensure their autonomy and their independence. These conflicts seem to have increased at the end of the Cold War.[3]

From "Coldness" to "Uncertainty", forms of war today:

The antagonism that characterized the twentieth century, has taken on an even more elusive and dangerous form in the new millennium, as the "clash of civilizations," described in an essay by Samuel Huntington.[4] This author maintains that, in the "post-Cold War" world, the most important distinctions among peoples are not ideological, political or economic, but "cultural." Can we accept this analysis? Are the conflicts today of a cultural nature? Or are they expressions of the abuse and misuse of culture and religion for other purposes? The issue at stake here is even more vital for Christians, since it raises the question of what values and universal principles unite the human family besides cultural differences.
Currently there are about twenty active conflicts in the world. Of these, eight are in Africa and nine in Asia: that is the majority. Almost in all cases, these are not "inter-national" wars, i.e. fought by one State against another State, but rather "asymmetric" conflicts, that involve States and non-state actors. These conflicts (hostilities) have often lasted for years, causing a large number of innocent victims. If we look at these conflicts, we can see that, though the tensions may bear/assume ethnic, cultural, and religious traits, something else completely different triggered them; and in most cases, it is injustice. There is always an injustice, an act of abuse, and violence.

War and Peace:

It is important, therefore, to clarify the concepts, in order to make the language consistent with reality. Just think of the words "war" and "peace", which are perhaps among the most used and abused, just as "hate" and "love" are; How difficult it is to define them, and how easy it is for them to be misunderstood. Let's ask then: What is "war"? The question is also crucial for the understanding of "peace"; since "peace" is not just the absence of war.

It is noteworthy that the mass media tend to avoid using the word "war". They prefer the use of the seemingly more politically correct term "conflict." This tendency runs very many risks, including the increasing misrepresentation (masking) of reality and the tendency of normalizing the presence of conflict in human life and in the world to the point of making man oblivious of its presence (forgotten in the collective imagination of society).

Armed conflict in media presentation around the world hardly causes any fear these days; for it is presented not as an act of war, but as (part of) peace operation. In some cases, this may be true; but in general, conflict is thus proposed as a constitutive and permanent dimension of the human being. This reading could even find justification in the "conflict of conflicts," i.e. the one between the flesh and the spirit that St. Paul the Apostle tells us about, which is the cause of all "inner battle." (Gal.5:16ff.). After all, it seems that we have to accept conflict as a dimension at every level, the personal and interpersonal as well as on the local and global. But we know that this is not true. Certainly, man may experience an inner battle, but conflict cannot be a philosophy of life, or the hermeneutical key of reality. Jesus brought a change, he renewed everything; he made God's grace visible in order to bring peace into the history of every human being and of all humanity. Man is not called to hate himself and his neighbor but to love his neighbor as himself.

I would like to look again at the word "war." What is war? The problem is not just theoretical. The classification of a particular situation as war leads to the applicability of certain legal rules and the exclusion of others. Laws applied in times of peace may not be the same applied in times of war. This implies the application of a different standard of protection of the rights and fundamental freedoms.

Legal science, defines "international" war as the armed confrontation between two or more States, and "non-international" war as armed confrontation between a governmental entity and a non-state actor. In both cases, an essential set of principles and general norms of humanitarian law should be applied, as required by the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols. The distinction between war and peace, and the choice of appropriate law is, however, more complex in the fight against international terrorism. Is terrorism war? Are terrorists criminals or soldiers? Are arrested terrorists prisoners of war or convicts? The issues are complex and almost; and our world has to deal with this everyday.

War as a Set of "Parameters"?

Be that as it may, war is a very complex phenomenon and difficult to decipher, even in its phenomenology. A study of Caritas Italiana observes: "Scientific literature tends to make a distinction between 'armed conflicts' and the category of 'violent conflict' (or deadly conflict), i.e. those conflicts in which violence is exercised, on one side, only against unarmed civilians, for example when genocide and crimes against humanity are perpetrated." [5]

In order to make it easier to define and to distinguish between these different situations, some have tried to identify "formal" criteria, or "parameters" for identifying and classifying the phenomenon of "war." And so, for example, the Conflict Data Project of the university of Uppsala, Sweden, and the SIPRI Institute classify armed conflict according to the casualties/victims of the casualties. They refer to minor armed conflict when there are 25 deaths in battle or less than 1000 death a year. A conflict is an intermediate armed conflict when there are at least about 1000 death a year; and it is a major armed conflict when the number of death is over 1000 in a year. This approach, as well as others, may help to "classify" the effects of war, but it doesn't "grasp" the causes or possible remedies. Moreover, it does not consider the thousands of victims of other types of widespread domestic and urban violence. Above all, it cannot help us to understand the inner dimension of war, which like every evil has its origin in the human heart. So can any war lead to a future peace?

Peace between Prophecy and Commitment

Such a question may well have different responses from different circles; but coming from where I left this morning to get here, I should answer the question with reference to the Social Doctrine of the Church.

a) The first encyclical, entirely devoted to the theme of Peace, is Pacem, Dei munus pulcherrimum (peace, the beautiful task of God) published in 1920 by Benedict XV, "the Pope of the First World War". That encyclical expresses more systematically the condemnation of war as "senseless slaughter" in the Pope's Peace Note of 1917.

b) Then, we have John XXIII's Pacem in Terris, of 1963. This encyclical is the "watershed" in the history of Catholic theological reflection on the issues of war and peace. Going beyond the doctrine of just war, he defines Peace as the Dignity of the person and of peoples. The reminder of the natural law is also important, because the Pope wants to address himself equally to all "men of good will." But we have something more: Pope John XXIII did not merely indicate a simple goal, but indicated the elements of peace to be built on the four pillars of truth, justice, love, and freedom. These pillars are also the virtues of communion, which is what every man was created for: to be in communion with God and with one another; and they constitute the justice and the peace of every man. War is the absence of peace, because it destroys communion on account of a perceived or real lack of justice.

c) In 1967, Paul VI, reiterating the teaching of the Fathers of Vatican II, in particular, in the Constitution: Gaudium et Spes, published the encyclical Populorum Progressio, in which he defined peace in terms of development, declaring "the development of peoples as the new the name of peace".

d) Then, in 1987, on the 20th anniversary of Populorum Progressio, Pope John Paul II published the encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, which gave an overview of the teaching of his predecessors and proposed "solidarity among peoples" as the new name of peace.

To these four encyclicals of the 20th century should be added

The Radio Messages of Pope Pius XII, the Pope of the Second World War, which in many ways anticipated the positions that would later take shape in John XXIII and following Pontiffs, as well as the Messages for the World Day of Peace, an annual celebration instituted by Pope Paul VI in 1968, and which since then constitute essential expressions of the Church's "doctrine of peace."

Finally, we need to mention, at least briefly, Pope Benedict XVI's Caritas in veritate, which marks yet another step in the evolution of the Church's Magisterium in the field of peace. One concept is especially noteworthy: It is no longer the development of peoples, simply understood, which is the name of peace. It is human development, whole and entire, which is the new name of peace. Thus peace is inconceivable without the integral - cultural, moral and spiritual - development of all human beings.

A second element also of interest in Caritas in veritate, is the teaching that the construction of peace implies and does require the protection of creation, the theme chosen by the Holy Father for his Message on the World Day of Peace in 2010. The Holy Father, who in caritas in veritate taught that integral human development is closely linked to the obligation which flows from man's relationship with the natural environment, (Civ. n.48) got more explicit in his peace message. There the Pope wrote: "Respect for creation is of immense consequence, not only because 'creation is he beginning and foundation of God's works', and its preservation has now become essential for the pacific coexistence of mankind. Man's inhumanity to man has given rise to numerous threats to peace and to authentic and integral human development - wars, international and regional conflicts, acts of terrorism and violation of human rights. Yet no less troubling are the threats arising from neglect -- if not downright misuse - of the earth.... For this reason, it is imperative that mankind renew and strengthen 'that covenant between human beings and the environment..'"(n.1).

So, Pope Benedict XVI offers a vision of peace, which we could qualify as a tranquillitas ordinis, indeed, a communion that manifests itself in a truly human and Christian ecology.

So, what then is peace?

For Pope John XXIII, peace rested on the four pillars or virtues of truth, justice, love and freedom. These are the basis for a harmonious development and solidarity among peoples: in a word, peace in the world, and it is not an "unrealistic" goal, an utopia.

"Utopia", indeed, doesn't indicate an impossible desire. It points to something beautiful but difficult to realize. Something for which we need to fight a good fight, even if it means the use of unconventional weapons. It was Pope Paul VI, who, in his Message for World Day of Peace in 1976, reminded us of what the real weapons of peace are. In his message, Pope Paul VI recalled the progress made in thinking peace. But he also noted the concomitant manifestation of phenomena contrary to the content and purpose of Peace. He emphasized a very pertinent issue, namely, the "disproportionate growth" of the arms trade. And so, Pope Paul VI asked himself: "Can we give the name peaceful to a world that is radically divided by irreconcilable ideologies - ideologies that are powerfully and fiercely organized, ideologies that divide Peoples from one another, and, when they are allowed free rein, subdivide those peoples among themselves, into factions and parties that find their reason for existence and activity in poisoning their ranks with irreconcilable hatred and systematic struggle within the very fabric of society itself?"

"Utopia", for Paul VI, is total disarmament that goes hand in hand with the education to moral principles, principles that are common to all peoples. "Here", according to the Pontiff, "we enter into the speculative world of ideal humanity, of the new mankind still to be born, still to be educated -mankind stripped of its grievous weight of murderous military weaponry, and rather clothed and strengthened by moral principles which are natural to it. These are principles which already exist, in a theoretical and practically infantile state, weak and still very tender, only at the beginning of their penetration into the profound and operative consciousness of Peoples. Their weakness, which seems irreparable (incurable) to the analysts: so-called realists of historical and anthropological sciences, comes especially from the fact that military disarmament, if it is not to constitute an unpardonable error of impossible optimism, of blind ingenuousness, .........., should be common and general. Disarmament must be embraced by everyone (all parties concerned), or it is a crime of neglect of self-defense. But does the sword, in the context of the historical and concrete life of man in society, not have its own raison d'être in its use for justice and for peace? (cf. Rom 13:4)."

Paul VI knows the risks of the modern world, yet he has great confidence in the future of the world. This confidence, which comes straight from the Gospel, should prompt us to ask as the Pope did: "has there not come into the world a transforming dynamism, a hope which is no longer unlikely, a new and effective progress, a future and a longed-for history which can make itself present and real, ever since the Master, the Prophet of the New Testament, proclaimed the decline of the archaic, primitive and instinctual tradition with a Word that had in itself power not only to denounce and to announce, but also to generate, under certain conditions, a new mankind?" These words of the Pope constitute an appeal addressed to the Christian religion and non-Christians alike to become "concrete" and active promoters of peace.

The Role of the Great Religions

Indeed, religious rhetoric and instrumentalized of religion can be used to justify and sustain the reasons for conflict: this is the case with the Croats, the Serbs and the Muslims in Bosnia. It is the case with the people of Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus. It is the case with the Hindus and the Muslims in India; and it is the case with the Catholics and the Protestants in Northern Ireland. But religion in general and the great religions represent an extraordinary factor of unity and peace for peoples. It's no accident that religious actors are gaining increasing importance in building peace not only as a feeling or state of mind, but as a concrete commitment in the mediation of conflicts.[6]

Think, for example, of the first World Day of Prayer for Peace, in 1986, that brought together, in Assisi, the leaders of the world's major religions, and whose 25th anniversary will be celebrated in 2011. But let us also consider the role of religious leaders and faith-based organizations that contribute significantly in conflict resolution by consolidating peace, through the restoration of order after the chaos of war. This becomes possible when in truth and reconciliation warring and hostile groups look toward the future with a reconciled heart. We know how difficult and painful this is, but it is possible and necessary. Some experiences teach us that this is the right road to follow.

Truth and Reconciliation

The example of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, is sufficient. "What good does the truth do? How does it help anyone to know where and how their loved ones were killed or buried?" These questions were asked in 2010 by Winnie Mandela, ex-wife of the historic leader of the African National Congress and first black South African president, Nelson Mandela, after the April 1994 elections. But the South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission is the best-known case of a country that has come out of a dramatic period in its history, marked by conflict, genocide, serious human rights violations, dictatorships and racist regimes. The need to deal with a tragic past concerns not only a political and legal question, i.e. what to do with State criminals etc.; it also involves the offsetting of the tragedy and the healing of memory..

Justice and Forgiveness:

The Commission's experience shows what positive lessons the "new" South Africa experience can teach the world. In the light of the South African experience, Paul Ricoeur's idea of "active forgetting" as a definition for the role of forgiveness in "peace building" is instructive. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission aims at healing the wounds created by social, ethnic and intercultural conflicts by focusing not on the principle of "attribution of responsibility", but rather on the "cure." The prospect of resolving a conflict is somewhat different from that of forgiveness. Yet, each conflict resolution requires forgiveness. This has led Paul Ricoeur[7] to stress that a past of division and conflict must not affect the present and the future of unity and peace.

When 'the wars of today' make 'the peace of tomorrow':

Throughout the world, different attempts have been made to create Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, through which the power of religion to heal and to repair is invoked to redress past wrongs and the effects of war. But the by far potent tool of religion, which makes the equation: wars of today, peace of tomorrow, right is the capacity of religions to prescribe, to stimulate and to encourage a warfare within their adherents which leads to peace within and without. The form that this warfare takes in the religious traditions is abstinence/fasting and various forms of continence and self-control; and it is a war waged on one's instincts, inordinate desires, egoism etc. For, if there is any merit in what James says in his letter (4:1ff.), then the real warfare for peace should be waged within our hearts: within the hearts of men. "Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. (James 4:1-2; cfr. too, Mt. ).

By way of concluding, we need to recognize that the wars and conflicts in our day, whatever their nature and character: be they interior or exterior, spiritual or material, even in their extreme and tragic forms of degenerating into armed (nuclear) conflict, may never impose limits on our desire and reaching out towards the ideal state of peace. This desire and aspiration are not mere wishes; they must be the duty of all towards all..... to desire and to seek after peace. As Pope Benedict XVI once wrote to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the occasion of its seminar on Disarmament, Development and Peace (2008), though peace is a precious gift of God that must be sought and preserved using human means, it requires the contribution of all, a unanimous dissemination of the culture of peace and a common education in peace.[8] This is in view of the new generation for whom the adult generations have grave responsibility.

Our future, then, is the present of new generations. Accordingly, the duty of the present generations to build peace is out of a sense of solidarity and responsibility towards future generations. The wars of today do not and will not make for the peace of tomorrow. The axiom: if you want peace prepare for war, is out of tune and outdated. It has in history caused only misery and pain: more harm than good. War is evil whenever it is directed outside. It inflicts suffering; and the good of peace cannot be achieved with evil of the suffering that it inflicts, except for the suffering that brings witnesses to love and bring peace to one's person in imitation of Jesus' revelation of the love of his Father.

Starting today, in a world not yet at peace, all men of good will, especially Christians, are called to be peacemakers, to cultivate dialogue and the meeting of civilizations, to witness the love of God's children precisely by yearning for peace for the future generations. In this way, the love of God, who renews everything, can become incarnate and transform the present and the future of mankind, while waiting for the coming of Jesus Christ, true love and true peace.


[1] P. Patfooter, Difendersi senza aggredire, Torino 2006, pg. 4

[2] Esposito-Watson (ed.), Religion and Global Order, Basingstoke 2000, p. 179

[3] A. Michael, Costruire la Pace in un mondo plurale, Bologna 2008. p. 13

[4] H. Samuel, Lo Scontro di civiltà, Milano 1996.

[5] Caritas Italiana, Guerre alla finestra, (Bologna 2005), pp. 36-37.

[6] Civico Aldo, "Leader religiosi mediatori di pace", in La Società n.6/2001.

[7] Cfr. Paul Ricoeur, La memoria, la storia e l'oblio, Roma 2003; Ricordare, perdonare, dimenticare, Bologna 2004.

[8] Pontificio Consiglio della Giustizia e della Pace, Prosprttive per un disarmo integrale, Città del Vaticano 2009, pg.8.


Vatican Statement on Illicit Chinese Ordination
"It Offends the Holy Father, the Church in China and the Universal Church"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 24, 2010 - Here is an English-language communiqué published today by the Vatican regarding an episcopal ordination that took place Saturday at Chengde, China.

* * *

With regard to the episcopal ordination of the Reverend Joseph Guo Jincai, which took place last Saturday, November 20, information has been gathered about what happened and it is now possible to state clearly the following.

1. The Holy Father received the news with deep regret, because the above-mentioned episcopal ordination was conferred without the apostolic mandate and, therefore, constitutes a painful wound upon ecclesial communion and a grave violation of Catholic discipline (cf. Letter of Benedict XVI to the Church in China, 2007, n. 9).

2. It is known that, in recent days, various Bishops were subjected to pressures and restrictions on their freedom of movement, with the aim of forcing them to participate and confer the episcopal ordination. Such constraints, carried out by Chinese government and security Authorities, constitute a grave violation of freedom of religion and conscience. The Holy See intends to carry out a detailed evaluation of what has happened, including consideration of the aspect of validity and the canonical position of the Bishops involved.

3. In any case, this has painful repercussions, in the first case, for the Reverend Joseph Guo Jincai who, because of this episcopal ordination, finds himself in a most serious canonical condition before the Church in China and the universal Church, exposing himself also to the severe sanctions envisaged, in particular, by canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law.

4. This ordination not only does not contribute to the good of the Catholics of Chengde, but places them in a very delicate and difficult condition, also from the canonical point of view, and humiliates them, because the Chinese civil Authorities wish to impose on them a Pastor who is not in full communion, either with the Holy Father or with the other Bishops throughout the world.

5. Several times, during this current year, the Holy See has communicated clearly to the Chinese Authorities its opposition to the episcopal ordination of the Reverend Joseph Guo Jincai. In spite of this, the said Authorities decided to proceed unilaterally, to the detriment of the atmosphere of respect that had been created with great effort with the Holy See and with the Catholic Church through the recent episcopal ordinations. This claim to place themselves above the Bishops and to guide the life of the ecclesial community does not correspond to Catholic doctrine; it offends the Holy Father, the Church in China and the universal Church, and further complicates the present pastoral difficulties.

6. Pope Benedict XVI, in the above-mentioned Letter of 2007, expressed the Holy See's willingness to engage in a respectful and constructive dialogue with the Authorities of the People's Republic of China, with the aim of overcoming the difficulties and normalizing relations (n. 4). In reaffirming this willingness, the Holy See notes with regret that the Authorities allow the leadership of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, under the influence of Mr. Liu Bainian, to adopt attitudes that gravely damage the Catholic Church and hamper the aforesaid dialogue.

7. The Catholics of the entire world are following with particular attention the troubled journey of the Church in China: the spiritual solidarity with which they accompany the vicissitudes of their Chinese brothers and sisters becomes a fervent prayer to the Lord of history, so that He may be close to them, increase their hope and fortitude, and give them consolation in moments of trial.


Vatican Statement on Ireland's Apostolic Visitation
"Intended to Assist the Local Church on Her Path of Renewal"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 12, 2010 - Here is the press statement issued today by the Vatican press office at the beginning of the apostolic visitation in Ireland.

* * *

On March 19, 2010, following a meeting with the Bishops of Ireland, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI issued a Pastoral Letter to the Catholics in Ireland. The Letter expressed his deep sorrow and regret regarding abuse perpetrated by priests and religious and the way in which such cases had been responded to in the past. It also called for an Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations. "Pastoral in nature, the Visitation 'is intended to assist the local Church on her path of renewal' (Pastoral Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland) and is a sign of the Holy Father's desire, as the Successor of Peter, to offer his pastoral solicitude to the Church in Ireland (Vatican Press Release, October 6, 2010.)

In the months following the publication of the letter, preparatory meetings were held with the appointed Visitators, representatives from the Holy See, the Irish Episcopate and the Conference of Religious Superiors of Ireland (CORI) in order to lay out a clear plan for the Visitation.

The Visitation will identify whether the mutual relationship of the various components of the local Church, seminaries and religious communities is now in place, in order to sustain them on the path of profound spiritual renewal already being pursued by the Church in Ireland. It also has the goal of verifying the effectiveness of the present processes used in responding to cases of abuse and of the current forms of assistance provided to the victims. It will not be an investigation into individual cases of abuse nor a trial to judge past events. The Visitators will have to identify the explicit problems which may require some assistance from the Holy See.

The Visitation will in no way interfere with the ordinary activity of local magistrates, nor with the activity of the Commissions of Investigation established by the Irish Parliament nor with the work of any legislative authority, which has competence in the area of prevention of abuse of minors. The Visitation does not seek to replace the legitimate authority of the local Bishops or Religious Superiors, who maintain responsibility in the handling of cases of abuse.

It is important to remember that the Visitators are not expected to receive allegations of new or old cases of abuse. If any were to arise, such allegations must be reported to the respective Ordinaries or Major Superiors who have the duty to inform the competent civil and ecclesiastical authorities, in conformity with the current civil and ecclesiastical laws.

Regarding the Visitation of the Four Metropolitan Archdioceses

As previously announced, the Visitators of the four Irish Metropolitan Archdioceses will be: His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor for Armagh; His Eminence Seán P. O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap. for Dublin ; the Most Reverend Thomas C. Collins for Cashel and Emly; the Most Reverend Terrence T. Prendergast, S.J. for Tuam. The Visitators may bring with them some people, approved by the Congregation for Bishops, who can serve as assistants.

In respect of and in conformity with local civil law, the Visitators will make themselves available to meet with those who have been deeply wounded by abuse and who wish to be met and heard, beginning with the victims themselves and their families. They will be received in the same fatherly manner in which the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has on several occasions greeted and listened to those who have suffered the terrible crime of abuse.

The Visitators will monitor how well the guidelines of Safeguarding Children, Standards and Guidance Document for the Catholic Church in Ireland, commissioned and produced in February 2009 by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, are functioning and how they may be better implemented and improved.

The Visitators may also meet with the other Bishops of the Province, and they should listen to, besides the local Ordinary, the Vicar General, the Episcopal Vicars, the Judges of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal, the Chancellor and other officials of the Curia, members of the Presbyteral Councils, members of the College of Consultors and of Pastoral Councils and, above all, those responsible for the Office of Protection and Prevention of Abuse at the diocesan and parish level. Finally, Pastors and other priests, the lay faithful and individual men and women who wish to be received by the visiting Prelates may request this in writing. The Visitators will meet people individually or as a family.

If possible, it is recommended that each Archdiocese, embracing the penitential sentiments expressed by the Holy Father in his Letter, organize a Penitential service or some other similar gathering in the presence of the Visitator with the approval of the local Ordinary. This will correspond with the penitential activities already promoted by the Irish Episcopal Conference, which include prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

With the aim of ensuring confidentiality, all those who wish to write to the Visitators should address letters to them by name using the mailing address of the Apostolic Nunciature.

In order to facilitate access for those who would like to meet with them, the address of the respective Visitator will be communicated by the Archdiocese. In coordination with each Visitator, their availability, the days they are already occupied and those still available for meetings with various people will be communicated.

Regarding the Visitation to the Irish Seminaries

The Apostolic Visitator for the Irish Seminaries is the Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York. He will be assisted by some clerics, approved by the Congregation for Catholic Education, whose main duty will be to help to conduct the one-to-one interviews with the seminarians.

Archbishop Dolan will visit 5 institutions: St. Patrick's College, Maynooth; the Pontifical Irish College, Rome; Saint Malachy's College, Belfast; All Hallows College, Dublin; Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Dublin (this will be visited only in regard to its academic programmes).

Prior to each Visitation, the Visitator will receive copies of all necessary documentation. Moreover, each staff member and student will be granted the possibility to express to the Visitator in a signed statement his opinion about the seminary. Such letters should be addressed to the Visitator using the mailing address of the Apostolic Nuntiature.

The Visitator will examine all aspects of priestly formation. He, or his assistants, will conduct private interviews with all staff members, all seminarians and, where applicable, other parties normally involved in the life of the seminary. It is not his task to meet with victims of abuse who, as noted above, may be instead received by the Visitators of the four Metropolitan Archdioceses. Furthermore, each priest who has graduated from the seminary in the previous three years will be given the opportunity for a private interview.

In conducting his examination of each institution, the Visitator will follow the directives set out by the documents of the Holy See and of the local Church concerning priestly formation and the protection of minors.

Regarding the Visitation to Religious Houses

Sr. Sharon Holland, I.H.M., Fr. Robert Maloney, C.M., Sister Máirin McDonagh, R.J.M. and Fr. Gero McLoughlin, S.J. have been appointed to serve as Apostolic Visitators of those Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life with houses in Ireland.

The first phase of this Visitation will consist in responding to a Questionnaire which seeks information regarding the involvement of Institutes in cases of abuse, the responses offered to victims, and the compliance of the Institute with the protocols contained in Safeguarding Children, Standards and Guidance Document for the Catholic Church in Ireland. The Questionnaire also seeks to ascertain how each community is dealing with the revelations and their consequences. Additionally it asks what is being done, in the light of past experiences, to assist members in their primary mission of radically witnessing to Christ's presence in the world.

The Visitators will meet afterwards to assess the responses to the Questionnaire. They will then make recommendations to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life regarding the next steps to be taken in the Visitation process.

When the Apostolic Visitation is complete, the Visitators will submit their findings to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. After having carefully studied the Report of the Visitators, the Congregation will determine what further steps should be taken to contribute to a revitalization of consecrated life in Ireland.


Given the delicate nature of the subject matter and out of respect for persons involved, the Visitators will exercise great discretion and will not grant interviews during the first phase of the Visitation.

The Congregations for Bishops, for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Catholic Education concur with the Secretariat of State that the first phase of the Visitation - the inquiry concerning the four Metropolitan Archdioceses, Religious Houses and Seminaries - should be completed if possible by next Easter 2011. At that time the Visitators should submit the results of their enquiries so that they can be studied during the month of May and a plan for moving forward can be discussed. Then the Holy See will announce, with a proper Statement, the next steps that have to be taken.

When the Visitation is complete, the Holy See, after reviewing all the material submitted by the Visitators and offering suggestions for the spiritual renewal of the Archdioceses, Seminaries and Religious Houses, will issue a comprehensive summary of the results of the Visitation.


Vatican Address at Interpol Meeting in Qatar
"The Holy See Continues to Call for the Promotion and Protection of Rights"

DOHA, Qatar, NOV. 9, 2010 - Here is the text of the address delivered Monday by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, secretary of the Governorate of Vatican City State, to the 79th General Assembly of Interpol, which is under way in Doha.

* * *

[In English]

Mister President,
Honorable Ministers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored to address this distinguished gathering. I would like to discuss a complex issue which is of great interest both to the Holy See and, personally, to Pope Benedict XVI.

Naturally, I do not speak as an expert in criminology or on the basis of experience in criminal police investigations. My intervention is meant to contribute to deeper reflection on the underlying issue of the deliberations of this General Assembly Session of Interpol: crime itself, or more properly, criminal behavior grounded in various motivations, at times even ascribed to religious convictions.

Criminal behavior is an intrinsic part of the human experience, just as the conflict of good and evil is part of the world’s history, and, for Christians, a part of God’s saving plan. It is precisely this realization that inspires the Holy See to participate, either as a member or an observer, in the meetings and conferences promoted by international organizations to discuss issues which ultimately deal with man himself, the human being viewed holistically and with respect for all his complexity. This can be clearly seen from the addresses which Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI delivered before the United Nations General Assembly.

Perhaps we need hardly mention the importance of the mission of the United Nations at a time when we are experiencing the obvious paradox of a multilateral consensus that continues to be in crisis because it is still subordinated to the decisions of a few, whereas the world’s problems call for interventions in the form of collective action by the international community. The phenomenon of globalization itself -- as Benedict XVI pointed out in his historic address before the United Nations Organization on 20 April 2008 -- cannot fail to concern the UN inasmuch as, by its essence, it constitutes "the locus of a worldwide sharing of problems and possible solutions".

The issue which needs to be faced is one closely linked to the process of globalization which is now affecting every aspect of the life of nations, peoples and individuals, and is accompanied by political and economic changes which are often uncontrolled and even uncontrollable. This in fact is what touches most closely the lives of nations and individual citizens. While it is true that globalization offers opportunities for development and enrichment, it is also true that it can cause increased poverty and hunger, which in turn can spark chain reactions often leading to widely disparate forms of violence. Nor can we underestimate the fact that the fruits of technological and scientific progress can, for all their enormous benefits to humanity, be used in a way that clearly violates the order of creation, even to the point of denying the sacredness of life and stripping the human person and the family of their natural identity.

In this complex situation, mankind finds itself at risk. What is the way to move forward? The Church never tires of insisting that it can only be done by respecting "ethical imperatives". Consistent with this stand, the Holy See continues to call for the promotion and protection of rights as sanctioned by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, above all the right to life and, not least, the right of religious freedom.

[In French:]

It is here that the role of organizations such as Interpol come into play. It is undeniable, in fact, that each state has the fundamental duty to protect its population. To protect it in every sense, not only from grave and continuous violations of human rights carried out in them and in the case of humanitarian crises, caused by nature as well as by man, but also to protect it from the most aberrant crimes that can be identified in the traffic of human beings or of organs, as well as in the ever more invasive sexual tourism, which disfigures the human and moral aspect of thousands upon thousands of minors.

In this context, thanks to the I-24/7 system, which allows in real time the exchange of information and the immediate and joint coordination of different police actions to counter transnational crimes, Interpol plays a decisive role, especially in the effective activity of prevention much appreciated by the Holy See.

And if each state is not up to the measure of guaranteeing an adequate protection, the international community must intervene with the juridical means provided by the United Nations Charter and by the other international instruments. It is a duty that is included in the principle of the responsibility to protect, now ancient foundation of every action that governments must undertaken in regard to the governed.

Remaining firm in the knowledge that it is this fundamental principle on which one must be inspired for what is specific to the mission proper of the institutions represented here, it is also necessary to stress that the promotion of human rights in their totality remains the most effective strategy to eliminate the inequalities between countries and between social groups. And this cannot but have positive aspects in the area of security. It is undeniable, in fact, that the victims of privations and of despair -- whose human dignity is violated with impunity -- are easy prey to appeals to violence, and they can then become the people who violate the peace. And it is here that the dangers of wars and of terrorism are born.

It is good, however, to specify, and the Pope has not failed to recall it, that the respect of rights is due as much in expressions of justice, and not simply because they can be made to be respected by the will of legislators and the force of states.

The violation of human rights takes place today in the world in numerous, very numerous different ways. One of the most striking is that which involves at present the Christian communities of the Middle East. There was in recent days the very grave attack on the Syro-Catholic Cathedral of Baghdad, an act of unheard of ferocity against defenseless persons gathered to pray. For years now in Iraq, Christians have become the object of atrocious attacks, and the situation of the country has certainly become in itself ever more difficult. I myself, who spent some years of diplomatic service in Baghdad, lived the daily experience that the Christian minorities are constrained to live. The cathedral itself, object of the terrorist attack, is the largest place of worship of the Catholic community of that country. It is very evident, moreover, that the Muslim communities are also the object of grave acts of terrorism themselves -- one against the other, without any respect not only of the dignity of the human person, but also of membership in the same religion.

The Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which was just held in the Vatican, denounced the numerous forms of violence to which the Christian communities in these regions are subjected, and which in the end, are constrained to flee. These are also crimes to be combated. But it must be done all together because, as Benedict XVI wrote in the message of condolence sent to Archbishop Athanase Matti Shaba Matoka [of Baghdad] of the Syro-Catholics, "peace is a gift of God, but it is also the result of the efforts of men of good will, of national and international institutions." His appeal was an appeal for all to join their forces to finally stop the violence.

Moreover, we very much appreciate the cooperation between Interpol and the Peace-Keeping Department of the United Nations. In fact, we believe that military operations oriented toward maintaining the peace, avoiding, where possible, imposing it, must justly be succeeded by the good preparation of police forces that will then succeed in maintaining timely and necessary relations also in the contexts of international cooperation.

The agreement between Interpol and the Peace-Keeping Department reinforces this concept, rendering it ever more active. In this way the police forces themselves and the law enforcement agencies that will be involved in the peacekeeping operations, and in those of peace building, will have greater incisiveness in the destabilized context in which they operate, being able to make available their experience in favor of peoples who live in regions of crisis, as well as make use of their technology to defend them. To address these contexts in a joint and coordinated way contributes also a further benefit in addition to the one mentioned earlier, namely, to avoid the duplication of efforts, useless especially under the economic and organizational aspect.

[In English:]

The Holy See has always recalled this urgent need, conscious of the fact that the desire for peace, the pursuit of justice, respect for the dignity of the person, humanitarian cooperation and assistance are expressions of the just aspirations of the human spirit and the ideals which ought to undergird international relations. The Holy See has done so vigorously, even in recent days, as for example by intervening in the current debate on disarmament at the United Nations and urging all parties to reach agreement on definitive and complete disarmament.

We are here today to renew, in one specific area, our commitment to cooperate in eliminating evil from the world. This is a enormous commitment if we think of the forces at play, yet we must remain undaunted. Indeed, we should be committed to even fuller cooperation.

I wish to conclude by expressing the Holy See’s deep appreciation to Interpol for the assistance it has given to the local police and emergency workers in the aftermath of grave natural catastrophes, such as those in East Timor, in Indonesia, and in other parts of the world. With its own charitable organizations ("Caritas Internationalis," "Cor Unum"), its worldwide network of local churches and the works of Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the Holy See considers Interpol to be a concrete support for the maintenance of order, for assistance to peoples affected by disasters and for the identification of victims.

The Holy See has wished to take part in Interpol because it is convinced of the nobility of the goals which this organization pursues, and the benefits which it provides to all its members.

This has also been clear in the case of the Holy Father’s many international journeys. Thanks to Interpol, the Holy See has always benefited from the information and logistical support provided by security services in the countries involved. In this way Interpol has contributed in no small measure to the successful outcome of His Holiness’s Apostolic Journeys.

I willingly take this occasion to express our friendship and our readiness to cooperate in working for the peace to which our world aspires. I also thank the organizers, who have offered me the opportunity to address this distinguished assembly.


Doctrinal Congregation's Note on Opus Angelorum
Association Is in Good Standing, Be Vigilant With Regard to Ex-Members

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 5, 2010 - Here is the complete text of the circular letter issued to the local ordinaries of the Church by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the current doctrinal and canonical position of the association known as Opus Angelorum (work of the angels).

The letter, dated Oct. 2 and signed by Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the congregation, was published Thursday by L'Osservatore Romano.

* * *

[Father Lombardi's explanatory note]

L'Osservatore Romano published today a circular letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, dated Oct. 2, to update bishops on the present doctrinal and canonical situation of the association called Opus Angelorum, so that they can adjust themselves on this matter.

The new circular letter reminds that in 1983 a letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated that the members of the association Opus Angelorum, in promoting devotion to the angels, should be conformed to the social doctrine of the Church and not spread theories from the alleged private revelations attributed to Mrs. Gabriele Bitterlich, and that they should abide by all the liturgical norms in force, in particular those relating to the Eucharist.

With a decree of 1992, approved by the Holy Father John Paul II, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith completed these directives with a few other norms, entrusting their execution to a delegate appointed by the Holy See, also in charge of relations between the Opus Angelorum and the Order of the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross. For many years this delegate was Father Benoit Duroux, O.P., and now it is, for the past few months, Father Daniel Ols, O.P.

Today it can be considered that the Opus Angelorum lives loyally and serenely in conformity with the doctrine of the Church and of the liturgical and canonical norms and constitutes a "public association of the Church." Also the Order of the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross and the Sisters of the Holy Cross -- who have a relation with the Opus Angelorum -- are regularly approved by the ecclesiastical authorities.

However, a certain number of members of the Opus Angelorum -- and in particular some priests who have left or been expelled from the Order of the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross --- in past years have not accepted the norms given by the authority of the Church, and continue trying to restore a movement that practices what has been prohibited. Because of this, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith exhorts the ordinaries to be vigilant with regard to such initiatives.

* * *

[Circular letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith]

Your Eminence/Most Reverend Excellency

More than thirty years ago, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith began to examine the theories and practices of the association called Opus Angelorum (Engelwerk). At the present time, the dicastery believes that it would be helpful for the bishops of [episcopal conferences] to be informed regarding the developments which have taken place in these years, so that they may exercise effective oversight in this area.

I. The initial examination was brought to a conclusion with the publication of a letter on 24 September 1982, communicating certain decisions approved by the Holy Father (AAS 76 [1984], 175-176); this letter was followed by a Decree entitled "Litteris diei" of 6 June 1992 (AAS 84 [1992], 805-806).

In essence, these two documents stated that, in promoting devotion to the Holy Angels, the members of the Opus Angelorum were to follow the doctrine of the Church and the teaching of the Church Fathers and Doctors. In particular, the members were not to make use of the "names" of angels derived from the alleged private revelations attributed to Mrs. Gabriele Bitterlich and they were not to teach, spread or make use of the theories originating from these alleged revelations. Furthermore, they were reminded of the duty to follow strictly all liturgical laws, in particular those relating to the Holy Eucharist. The Decree of 1992 entrusted the implementation of these measures to a delegate named by the Holy See and possessing special faculties; he was also given the task of regularising the relationship between the Opus Angelorum and the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross.

In the years that followed, the delegate, Fr. Benoit Duroux O.P., successfully completed the work entrusted to him. Today, thanks to the obedience of its members, the Opus Angelorum can be considered to be living loyally and serenely in conformity with the doctrine of the Church and with canonical and liturgical law. On 13 March 2010, given the advanced age of Fr. Duroux, Fr. Daniel Ols O.P. was named delegate, with the same powers as described in the Decree of 1992.

The process of normalisation can be seen in particular in the following elements. On 31 May 2000, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith approved the formula of a consecration to the Holy Angels for the Opus Angelorum. Having received the positive opinion of this dicastery, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life approved the "Statutes of the Opus Sanctorum Angelorum", in which, among other things, the relationship between the Opus Angelorum and the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross was defined. According to the Statutes, the Opus Angelorum is a public association of the Catholic Church with juridical personality according to the norm of canon 313 of the CIC; it is joined to the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross according to the norm of canon 677, para. 2 of the CIC and placed under the direction of the Order in conformity with canon 303 of the CIC. The Constitutions of the Sisters of the Holy Cross were approved by the bishop of Innsbruck. Finally, the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross, whose central government had been named by the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life on 30 October 1993, was able at the beginning of 2009 to elect its own superior general and the members of the general council.

Therefore, in its present state, the Opus Angelorum is a public association of the Church in conformity with traditional doctrine and with the directives of the Holy See. It spreads devotion to the Holy Angels among the faithful, exhorts them to pray for priests, and promotes love for Christ in His Passion and union with it. Therefore, there are no remaining obstacles of a doctrinal and disciplinary kind which would prevent local ordinaries from receiving this movement into their dioceses and promoting its development.

II. At the same time, however, the congregation wishes to draw the attention of ordinaries to the fact that, in the course of these years, a certain number of Opus Angelorum members, including some priests who either left or were expelled from the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross, have not accepted the norms given by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and seek to restore what, according to them, would be the "authentic Opus Angelorum", that is, a movement which professes and practices all those things which were forbidden by the above-mentioned documents. The congregation has learned that very discrete propaganda in favour of this wayward movement, which is outside of any ecclesiastical control, is taking place, aimed at presenting it as if it were in full communion with the Catholic Church.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, therefore, asks ordinaries to be vigilant with regard to such activities, disruptive as they are of ecclesial communion, and to forbid them if they are present within their dioceses.

Most devoted,

Cardinal William Levada

Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria, S.J.


Pope's Message to New Seminary in Cuba
Entrusts Institution to Our Lady of Charity of Cobre
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 5, 2010 - Here is a translation of the message that the Pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, sent in Benedict XVI's name to cardinal Jaime Ortega, archbishop of Havana, on the occasion of the inauguration of the new diocesan seminary.

* * *

Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, Archbishop of San Cristobal de La Habana:

On the opening of the new headquarters of the archdiocesan seminary of "St. Charles and Saint Ambrose" of Havana, His Holiness Benedict XVI cordially greets the pastors and faithful gathered on this happy occasion, as well as the formators and seminarians, asking God that this solemn act will be at the same time sign and incentive of renewed vigor in the commitment to watch over a careful human, spiritual and academic preparation of those who in this institution walk toward the priestly ministry. Likewise, the Pope invites them to identify themselves increasingly every day with the sentiments of Christ, Good Shepherd, through assiduous prayer, serious application to study, humble listening to his Divine Word, the fitting celebration of the sacraments, and audacious witness of his love as genuine disciples and missionaries of the Gospel of salvation.

With these wishes, the Holy Father, while entrusting the whole community of that teaching institution to the protection of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, who under the title of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre is invoked with fervor in the beloved Cuban nation, imparts his heartfelt special apostolic blessing, which he gladly extends to all those who contributed generously in the construction of the new building and to the participants in the inaugural celebration.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone

Secretary of State of His Holiness



Ambassador's Address on UK-Holy See Relations
"The Crown's Oldest Diplomatic Relationship Is With the Papacy"
NEWCASTLE, England, OCT. 30, 2010 - Here is the text of an address given Oct. 14 by Francis Campbell, the U.K. ambassador to the Holy See, at St. Mary's Cathedral in Newcastle.

* * *

The UK, the Holy See, and Diplomacy

It is a real honour to be here tonight to deliver the Annual Cardinal Hume Memorial Lecture. It is an honour in so many ways because I know how special the memory of Cardinal Hume is held in this his home city of Newcastle where he was born in 1923. But it is also personally special because the Cardinal is buried in what is now my home parish of Westminster Cathedral. I am grateful to the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, St. Mary's Cathedral, the organisers of tonight's lecture - Fr Peter, and Fr. Marc, and Bishop Seamus for the kind invitation to speak to you this evening.

It is also apt that we are speaking tonight to the theme of the UK, the Holy See and diplomacy because we are doing so less than one month after Pope Benedict XVI's historic visit to the United Kingdom. It was the second visit of a Pope to the UK - the first being the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1982 - when Cardinal Hume was serving as the Archbishop of Westminster. But this most recent visit was the first official visit of a Pope to the country. The tenure of Cardinal Hume's leadership of the Catholic Church in England and Wales did so much to prepare the way for the first official visit of a Pope to these shores. It is fitting tonight that we can look afresh on the country's oldest diplomatic relationship - that between the Crown and the Holy See - and to do so from here in Newcastle - the birth place of one who did so much to enhance that relationship in the 20th century.

Tonight's theme speaks to a relationship that has over the centuries seen many significant events - some with a shared perspective and others with a marked degree of difference. But our focus tonight is the diplomatic relationship - in particular the diplomatic relationship between the UK and the Holy See. Tonight I would like to do three things. First, I would like to say something about diplomacy - an art that is often misunderstood. Second, I would like to say something about how foreign policy deals with religion. Finally, we will explore the diplomatic relationship between the UK and the Holy See - the Crown's oldest diplomatic relationship in the world.


Diplomacy is often a word that is much misunderstood. When one mentions diplomacy many negative images can spring to mind. Perhaps none more so than Sir Henry Wotton's description of an ambassador as "a man of virtue sent abroad to lie for his country." Satow's guide to Diplomatic practice captures diplomacy as "the application of intelligence and tact to the conduct of official relations between the governments of independent states, and between governments and international institutions; or, more briefly, the conduct of business between states by peaceful means." [1]

At heart, diplomacy is about a relationship - it is about building, managing, deepening and maintaining a relationship. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations says it is about the promotion of friendly international relations.[2] Diplomacy should not be confused with foreign policy. Foreign policy is formulated by governments, not by diplomats.[3] What is the purpose of foreign policy? Put simply: the purpose of foreign policy has been described as "persuading other countries to do what we want."[4] Now if Diplomacy is captured as "the art of persuading others to act as we would wish, effective diplomacy requires that we comprehend why others act as they do."[5] Diplomacy is simply the execution of foreign policy.

By its very nature, and because one of its aims is the bettering of relations, diplomacy and diplomats deal with difference. Diplomacy does not mean that perspectives are always shared - indeed there is no diplomatic relationship between two free sovereign states that I am aware of where there is a direct alignment of view on every subject. Difference is a key part of the diplomatic relationship and managing those differences is a central task of diplomats.

Often a caricature of diplomacy or diplomats has developed which casts the diplomat as an evasive figure often being somewhat economical with the truth. It is clear that diplomats often deal with time sensitive and secret issues and one cannot be quite as forthcoming as one might like. But that is true of all professions and not just diplomacy - indeed it is true of all relations. How the diplomatic craft is practised says something not only about the country one represents, but also the individual.

For some, diplomacy is about constantly gaining the strategic advantage over the other party. That approach rarely builds up trust or leads to the development of long-term fruitful relations. But that approach can have its uses and applications in specific circumstances. For most diplomats however, diplomacy is about finding a solution to a common problem. It is a two-way street and serves a mutual advantage. Diplomats pursuing national foreign policy objectives do not have to do so to the detriment of others - it can be mutually beneficial. William Hague set the scene earlier in the year when he outlined his vision for UK foreign policy. He said, "our enlightened national interest requires a foreign policy that is ambitious in what it can achieve for others as well as ourselves, that is inspired by and seeks to inspire others with our values of political freedom and economic liberalism, that is resolute in its support for those around the world who are striving to free themselves through their own efforts from poverty or political fetters. It is not in our character as a nation to have a foreign policy without a conscience or to repudiate our obligation to help those less fortunate. Our foreign policy should always have consistent support for human rights and poverty reduction at its irreducible core and we should always strive to act with moral authority, recognising that once that is damaged it is hard to restore."[6] Delivering that is the task of each UK diplomat.

Diplomatic strategy differs with each relationship and in each setting. The inter-play between diplomacy and power or strength of influence is complex. Some would argue that a diplomacy which is not backed by effective force - or the threat of effective force -- will not be taken seriously. The nexus of force and diplomacy is beyond the scope of tonight's talk, but diplomacy is in many respects an effort to ensure that force does not have to be used. How force is used in the modern world raises even more avenues to pursue well beyond tonight's focus, but the inter-play is there to be considered.

But what of the art of diplomacy - how should one practice the craft? Again that depends on the setting, context, players and the subject. Diplomacy in this regard is no different to many other human settings we face. But diplomacy does raise some unique challenges because of the many cultural and linguistic differences that exist across humanity. Those differences can raise personal and professional challenges for each diplomat when approaching their host country. The central task is to build a relationship between one's sending state and the host state. The diplomat has to interpret difference and to allow for that difference and yet not "go native." Getting that balance right is probably one of the trickiest tasks the diplomat faces. One could easily develop an all too sympathetic approach to one's host state over time and to slip into special pleading or advocacy for one's host state when dealing with the sending state.

The task of the diplomat is to explain the approach of the host state, the reasons for the difference in substance, style or nuance and to offer advice about how to take the relationship forward. But to be able to explain to one's hosts the approach of your state and the differences of one's hosts to the home audience, one must be grounded in two experiences; that of the culture you are in and the one you represent. How you do this is not as easy as it sounds. It is difficult to act as a bridge between the society one represents and one's host state. The temptation is to see the world through the prism of one's own domestic society; and perhaps be favourable towards that which is familiar. But this may lead to miscalculation which can result in serious strategic errors.

Religion: diplomacy and foreign policy

This is no clearer than when dealing with religion - one of the foundational themes of tonight's talk. Religion can pose a serious challenge for many western Diplomats. Much of that is cultural. Faith and religion can have very different effects in very different cultures. In some states and regions there are sharp distinctions between the spiritual and secular realms while in other cultures the concept of secular as distinct from religious hardly exists. Allowing for those difference is a crucial challenge of diplomacy.

In July 2007, the Washington based Centre for Strategic and International Studies produced a report on religion and foreign policy. The CSIS report states that "miscalculating religion's role has sometimes led to failure to anticipate conflict or has actually been counterproductive to policy goals. It has kept officials from properly engaging influential leaders, interfered with the provision of effective development assistance and at times harmed national security."[7] Professor Bryan Hehir of Harvard when speaking of diplomats and foreign policy specialists said, "there is an assumption that you do not have to understand religion in order to understand the world. You need to understand politics, strategy, economics and law, but you do not need to understand religion. If you look at standard textbooks of international relations or the way we organise our foreign ministries, there's no place where a sophisticated understanding of religion as a public force in the world is dealt with."[8]

Hehir says that "policy makers must learn as much as possible about religion and incorporate that knowledge into their strategies. It's like brain surgery - a necessary task - but fatal if not done well."[9]
Yet for much of the 20th century religion was ignored in foreign policy. In all the strategic reports at the time of the Millennium on the next decade, century, etc I don't recall one which identified religion as a serious issue. Indeed Time in 1966 and The Economist in 2000 repeated Nietzsche's prediction of the "Death of God" (or at least the demise of God).

The basic assumption at work in many western societies and places of learning was that as societies would develop they would secularize - otherwise known as the secularisation/modernisation theory.[10] The theory is broadly based on empirical data from north Western Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It was commonly assumed that the world was following a trajectory set off in north Western Europe at the time of the Industrial Revolution. For much of the 20th century it went unchallenged. The notion, according to one scholar, wanted to marginalise religion by presenting it as little more than a form of reassurance - a psychological compensation for people in societies or countries with low levels of human development or poorly developed welfare states.[11] Bernard Lewis - the historian - wrote in 1977, "Westerners, with few exceptions, have ceased to give religion a central place among their concerns, and therefore have been unwilling to concede that anyone else could do so. For the progressive modern mind, it is simply not admissible that people would fight and die over mere differences of religion".[12]

A former US Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, when reminiscing about her own ministerial career, admitted that religion was often ignored. She wrote, "I found it incredible, as the twenty-first century approached, that Catholics and Protestants were still quarrelling in Northern Ireland and that Hindus and Muslims were still quarrelling off against each other in south Asia; surely, I thought, these rivalries were the echoes of earlier, less enlightened times, not a sign of the battles to come". Albright even cited a case in the 1970s when the CIA dismissed an internal proposal to study religious leaders in pre-revolutionary Iran as - useless sociology.[13] But she says, "since the terror attacks of 9/11, I have come to realize that it may be I who was stuck in an earlier time. Like many other foreign policy professionals, I have had to adjust the lens through which I view the world."[14]

Albright claims that this miscalculation on the part of foreign policy specialists and diplomats harmed US foreign policy. She said, "because we underestimated the importance of tradition and faith to Iranian Muslims, we made enemies that we did not intend to make. Everyone in the region was presumed to be pre-occupied with the practical problems of economics and modernisation. A revolution in Iran based on a religious backlash against America and the West? Other than a few fanatics who would support such a thing?"[15]. In Vietnam, Albright said, "from the outset the anti-communist cause was undermined because the government in Saigon repressed Buddhism, the largest non-communist institution in the country."[16] And as recently as 2006, we hear from Bob Woodward that former President Bush asked an internal White House strategy meeting on Iraq, "if Iraqi nationalism trumped religious identity?"[17]

Some 20 years ago the "group-think" which long held that religion was a marginal issue in foreign policy considerations began to be challenged. Professor Peter Berger, the eminent American sociologist and expert on religions, was long an advocate of the secularisation theory - that held that societies secularised as they modernised. He changed his view on the basis of the empirical data from the United States, Africa, Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe which pointed to religious practice either walking hand in hand with progress, and in some cases actually being the spur, or at least being a neutral variable. Berger said, "We don't live in an age of secularity; we live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity."[18] Secularization theory described a particular pattern in a particular region, namely industrialised and post industrialised Europe, where there was a dramatic drop in church attendance from agrarian societies to industrial and post-industrial societies.

But religion and foreign policy can still raise difficult questions for some people. Albright reminds us that she is often asked, "Why can't we just keep religion out of foreign policy?" She responds "we can't and shouldn't. Religion is a large part of what motivates people and shapes their views of justice and right behaviour. It must be taken into account."[19]

According to some scholars, the events in 1967 brought renewed attention to religion as an issue in foreign policy. Tim Shah of the US Council of Foreign Relations writes "In that year, the leader of secular Arab nationalism, Nasser, suffered defeat in the Six Days War. And by the 1970s, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, "born again" President Jimmy Carter and Pope John Paul II had dramatically demonstrated the increasing political clout of religious movements and their leaders."[20] Shah writes that, "a combination of rosary-welding Solidarity workers in Poland and Kalashnikov-wielding mujahedeen in Afghanistan helped defeat atheistic Soviet communism. Albright says, "In Poland, John Paul II helped construct a bridge that would ultimately restore the connection between Europe's East and West."[21] The Pope's visits (the first of which was in June 1979) sparked a revolution of the spirit that liberated Poland, brought down the Berlin Wall, reunited Europe, and transformed the face of the world."[22]

The late Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington argued that some of the religious movements helped to usher in the "third wave" of democracy in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Sub Saharan Africa and Asia from the 1970s to the early 90s.[23] The US Council of Foreign Relations cites more than 30 of the 80 countries that became freer in 1972-2000, owed some of that improvement to religion. For example, in Nicaragua and El Salvador, Christian Churches played a prominent role within the reformist and revolutionary movements of the 1980s. In the 1990s, religion, ethnicity and nationalism collided with devastating force in the Balkans.[24] In the Philippines, Cardinal Sin and Catholic organisations openly condemned the Marcos regime.[25]

There is also substantial statistical evidence that points to religion in public life.

-- In a 2005 Gallup poll, two thirds of the world's population claimed to be religious.[26]
-- The proportion of people attached to the world's four biggest religions, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism - rose from 67% in 1900 to 73% in 2005 and may reach 80% by 2050.
-- In terms of sheer number of adherents, the world's largest religions have expanded at a rate that exceeds that of global population growth. At the beginning of the 20th century, a bare majority of the world's population (50%) were Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or Hindu. At the beginning of the 21st century, however, nearly 64% of the world's people belonged to these four religious groups.[27]
-- In 1900, Africa had 10 million Christians representing 10 % of the population; by 2000, that was up to 360 million, to 46 percent of the population. That is the largest quantitative change that has ever occurred in the history of religion.
-- "Most Nigerians identify themselves by their religion first. In a recent Pew survey, 91% of Muslims and 76% of Christians said that religion is more important to them than their identity as Africans, Nigerians, or members of an ethnic group."[28]

The signs of the power of religion in foreign policy were evident throughout the period, but often religious considerations were ignored or marginalised as coincidental. The title of a recently published book "God is Back" illustrates the point.[29] It would be apt to say that God was never gone, but it was the research methodology and the selection bias which was flawed. Religion matters in the world and if foreign policy and diplomacy is to be effective it too must address religion as an issue.

So where to from here? How do we arrive at a situation where foreign policy is better equipped to deal with religion? How do we engage religious communities alongside influential political and economic actors as President Obama called for when he spoke in Cairo in June 2009? It must start with two things. First, we must sensitise ourselves to a world in which religion is alive and well; the real world and not the world in which some might feel more comfortable. As the Prime Minister said recently, "faith is part of the fabric of our country. It always has been and it always will be."[30] Secondly, we must begin to see religion as much as a source of healing as we now see it as a source of division - or as the Pope recently put it, "faith is not a problem for legislators to solve but rather a vital part of our national conversation".[31]

There is another major risk apart from ignoring the elephant in the room and that is seeing the "elephant" in every room. The risk now is that we go too early to the other extreme and see a religious cause or base to issues and problems which are essentially about race, ethnicity, or some other factor. That major risk is casting religion exclusively in a negative frame of reference. Today, the association of religion and violence is once more to the fore. But not all associations are justified. There can be a tendency to identify conflicts as religious when they are more accurately geo-political conflicts. Labeling a conflict as "religious" can be a lazy way to reduce complex struggles into simplistic frameworks.

Increasingly today religion is perceived as a threat because of its association with terrorism. The Chicago Global Affairs Council Report says that a "focus on religion through the lens of terrorism and counterterrorism strategy is too narrow."[32] A major challenge is to bring it back to a situation where we have a more balanced perspective and see it as much as a vehicle for peace and helping resolve conflicts. There are powerful practical illustrations to be made which show that the picture is more nuanced than simply condemning religion out of hand as a source of terror or war. The 2007 CSIS Report found that "Despite the fact that religion is seen as powerful enough to fuel conflict, policymakers less often engage with its peacemaking potential."[33] Albright writes "it is easy to blame religion - or more fairly, what some people do in the name of religion - for all our troubles, but that is too simple. Religion is a powerful force, but its impact depends entirely on what it inspires people to do. The challenge for policy makers is to harness the unifying potential of faith, while containing its capacity to divide."[34]

According to the Journal of International Affairs, "Religion can be one of the most powerful healers in post conflict situations. It can play a significant role in establishing peace in the present and dealing with the past."[35] The Political Scientist Paul Martin wrote "when conflict has ceased, only a few agencies are equipped to address the specific religious values, attitudes and loyalties that underlie ongoing tensions, let alone use them as tools in peace-building.

UK-Holy See

The Crown's oldest diplomatic relationship is with the Papacy - itself the oldest diplomatic entity in the world. It is a relationship that brings together much of what we have been speaking of here this evening. It has, like many relations, seen moments of triumph and of failure over the centuries as diplomatic ties have been strained, broken and strengthened. It is a diplomatic relationship which illustrates very clearly the global dimension of religion and it avoids narrow frameworks which too easily associate religion and violence. Today, the diplomatic relationship between the UK and the Holy See speaks powerfully to the positive contribution faith can make to the mutual benefit of all societies.

But there can be some confusion about the diplomatic nature of the Holy See. Our diplomatic ties - like all other 178 states - are with the Holy See. It is not the same as the Vatican City State. The Holy See is the universal government of the Catholic Church and operates from the Vatican City State, a sovereign, independent territory of 0.44 square kilometres. The Pope is the ruler of both the Vatican City State and the Holy See. The Holy See acts and speaks for the whole Catholic Church. It is also recognised by other subjects of international law as a sovereign juridical entity under international law, headed by the Pope. The Holy See dates back to early Christian times. Ambassadors are officially accredited to the Holy See and not the Vatican City State, and Papal representatives to states and international organizations are recognised as representing the Holy See, not the Vatican City State. The Holy See as legal person bears many similarities with the crown in Christian monarchies.

The Vatican City State on the other hand is a sovereign independent territory which was founded following the signing of the Lateran Pacts between the Holy See and Italy on 11 February 1929. Its nature as a sovereign State, distinct from the Holy See, is universally recognised under international law. Although the Holy See is closely associated with the Vatican City State, the independent territory over which the Holy See is sovereign, they are two international identities. The Holy See is not the same sovereign entity as the Vatican City State, which only came into existence in 1929 with the Lateran Treaty.

Formal diplomatic links between the Crown and the Holy See were first established in 1479 when John Shirwood was appointed by King Edward IV as the first resident Ambassador. Shirwood was also the first English Ambassador to serve abroad, making the Embassy to the Holy See the UK's oldest Embassy. I have also to note, as I am in Newcastle, that Shirwood was a former Bishop of Durham.

Formal diplomatic relations between the Crown and the Holy See were interrupted in 1536 at the time of the English Reformation. Diplomatic links were restored in 1553 under the reign of Queen Mary I. Sir Edward Carne - Mary's Ambassador - was initially Queen Elizabeth I's ambassador too, but when relations with the Holy See deteriorated he was recalled. Unofficial ties were maintained between the Crown and the Holy See through much of the 18th and 19th centuries: for example, Lord Odo Russell was the Crown's unofficial Minister to the Holy See from 1858 to 1870. The United Kingdom re-established formal resident diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1914.

While the Vatican, which is the headquarters of the Holy See, is exceedingly small in physical size, the Holy See is a sovereign entity with an unusually large global reach which touches one sixth of the world's population and many more beyond. The Papacy is one of the world's key opinion formers and it is because of this that it is a key part of the UK's diplomatic network.

The Catholic Church is a force on the world stage: a global religious institution with over 1.1 billion adherents (17.5% of the world's population and over 10% of the UK's population); reach into every corner of the planet through its 500,000 priests, 800,000 sisters/nuns, 219,655 parishes36; serious influence in as many countries as are in the Commonwealth, a privileged status as interlocutor with the two other Abrahamic faiths - Islam and Judaism - and two generations of intense experience in inter-faith dialogue and many centuries of co-existence. Pope John Paul II's funeral brought together the single largest gathering of Heads of State in history. The Holy See has a highly respected diplomatic corps with sharp eyes and ears, not only in 178 countries, but it is far closer to the ground than any ordinary diplomatic corps through its network of bishops in each region and clergy in each locality. The Holy See knows what is going on in the world at governmental and grass roots level, has extraordinary access at the highest political level in most Catholic countries, and knows who's who in the world's faith communities.

The Papacy's global weight is of importance to the UK. The Holy See is one of the world's oldest, largest, and what some might say one of the few truly global organizations. As such, they know what is going in the world and it is a very valuable listening post for the UK. We do not maintain an embassy to the Holy See for sentimental reasons alone even if it is our oldest overseas post. During his recent visit the Pope highlighted many of the areas the UK and Holy See work together on: the international arms trade treaty; human rights; the spread of democracy, especially in the last sixty-five years; debt relief, fair trade and financing for development, particularly through the International Finance Facility, the International Immunization Bond, and the Advanced Market Commitment. The Pope also said that, "The Holy See looks forward to exploring with the United Kingdom new ways to promote environmental responsibility, to the benefit of all."[37]

The Queen highlighted those same international issues, but she also cited the Holy See's contribution to the peace process in Northern Ireland and the transition in Central and Eastern Europe. She said, "In this country, we deeply appreciate the involvement of the Holy See in the dramatic improvement in the situation in Northern Ireland. Elsewhere the fall of totalitarian regimes across central and Eastern Europe has allowed greater freedom for hundreds of millions of people. The Holy See continues to have an important role in international issues, in support of peace and development and in addressing common problems like poverty and climate change."[38]

International Development

The Holy See is a crucial partner to the international community if we are to deliver on the MDGs by 2015. As the Chicago Report pointed out, "In much of the world, particularly Latin America, Africa, and South East Asia, many schools, hospitals, social services, relief and development, and human rights programmes are sponsored by religious institutions."[39] The Catholic Church alone is reckoned to be the world's second largest international development body after the UN. More than 50% of the hospitals in Africa are operated under the auspices of faith-based organisations.[40] The Catholic Church in Africa is responsible for nearly one quarter of health care provision, including over 25% of HIV care worldwide. In education too the Catholic Church is a huge provider. It provides places in school to some 12 million children each year.

The UK has worked with the Holy See to develop the IFF - the International Finance Facility. It is a novel way to use the capital markets to front load development spending. Pope John Paul II gave it his full moral support. In November 2006, Pope Benedict XVI went one step further and gave it his full practical support. He bought the first Bond. The Bond raised over $1.6 billion dollars. IFFIm has been designed to accelerate the availability of funds to be used for health and immunisation programmes in 70 of the poorest countries around the world. It is expected to help prevent five million child deaths between 2006 and 2015, and more than five million future adult deaths by protecting more than 500 million children in campaigns against measles, tetanus, and yellow fever. There are few more practical illustrations of what we do at the Vatican than the immunisation Bond and Pope Benedict's participation helped spread the global message about the Bond and the mechanism.

During his recent visit the Pope praised the working relationship between the UK and the Holy See on international development. He praised the commitment of the Government to devote 0.7% of national income to development aid by 2013.41 The Pope praised the growth in solidarity with the poor. But he also called for "fresh thinking" to improve life conditions in many important areas, such as "food production, clean water, job creation, education, support to families, especially migrants, and basic healthcare."

Climate Change and the Environment

The Vatican City State is on track to be one of the world's first carbon neutral state through offsetting its emissions and installing solar panels. It also recently announced plans to build Europe's largest solar farm on 740 hectares to the north of Rome. That solar farm will produce enough energy to power over 40,000 houses and exceed the EU's renewable energy targets of 20 percent of demand by 2020. The UK is also working with the Holy See as part of our South America Climate Change Network which aims to raise awareness of climate change between the most recent summit at Copenhagen and the next gathering at Cancun.

But it is not just the Holy See's practical elements on climate change which are important to us. Climate change is a curious mix of moral cause and strategic interest. The moral dimension is crucial in addressing climate change. We saw that moral dimension emerge very clearly in the Pope's latest Encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" when he called for the development of an integral human life with greater emphasis on human responsibility to creation.


In the most recent breakthrough in disarmament - the Treaty on Cluster Munitions - which came into force on 1 August 2010 - the Holy See played a unique behind the scenes role at the preparatory meeting in Wellington in getting agreement between the different camps. Without that help it is unlikely that we would have been able to get a breakthrough. The UK is also actively working together with the Holy See at the UN to deliver an Arms Trade Treaty, which would aim to introduce a more responsible global framework for the arms trade.

The Big Society

Faith groups have a key part to play in creating the Big Society. For example, faith communities have considerable resources to offer in terms of people and skills, local networks and assets such as buildings, which though often underused could easily be made available for wider community benefit. The UK Government will be working with faith communities to help them realise their full potential as part of wider civil society. For its part, the Catholic Church is participating fully in that dialogue. As Pope Benedict said in Westminster Hall, "religion, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation."[42] In the UK alone, the Catholic Church and associated charities play a significant part in providing care and help for the elderly and vulnerable (e.g.. volunteers from the Society of St Vincent de Paul make 1 million hours' worth of visits each year, the Passage in Westminster helps 200 homeless people each day, and there are many Catholic-inspired social enterprises), Catholic social charities spend £110m pa in the UK, and the community also raises well over £50m pa for international development; and over 10% of the country's schools are Catholic schools which are a major force of social inclusion and educational advancement in British society.


Ladies and Gentlemen, in January 2008, Pope Benedict XVI said "Diplomacy is, in a certain sense, the art of hope. It lives from hope and seeks to discern even its most tenuous signs. Diplomacy must give hope."[43] I believe that our relations illustrate that hope in action. Today, the diplomatic relationship between the UK and the Holy See bears fruit - perhaps more so than at any point in the last 531 years of our resident diplomatic relations. Why? Because our relations illustrate clearly the power of diplomacy - of building relations - in replacing centuries of mistrust and intolerance with mutual respect and co-operation. It speaks powerfully of the role of religion in public life, its contribution to finding solutions to many of the world's contemporary problems and it challenges those whose world view tries to marginalise religion or depict in a negative frame.

On 17 September 2010, Pope Benedict when speaking of the recent co-operation between the UK and the Holy See said that it illustrated how much progress had been made in promoting throughout the world the many core values that we share. He hoped and prayed that the relationship would continue to bear fruit.[44]
I am confident it will because on 19 September 2010, as he said farewell to the Pope on the runway of Birmingham Airport, the Prime Minister told the Pope, "during your visit we agreed to develop the co-operation between this country and the Holy See on the key international issues where we share a common goal. On winning the argument to get to grips with climate change. On promoting a multi-faith dialogue and working for peace in our world. On fighting poverty and disease. I passionately believe that we must continue to help the poorest, even in difficult economic times... And I am delighted that the Holy See will be working so actively with us to do all we can to achieve this.'[45]

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your attention.

* * *


[1] Satow's Diplomatic Practice, 6th Edition, Oxford University Press 2009, ed. Sir Ivor Roberts, page 3
[2] UN Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Vienna 1961
[3] Ibid, page 3
[4] Madeline Albright "The Mighty and the Almighty," Harper-Collins, New York, 2006, page 11
[5] ibid, page 75

[6] Rt. Hon. William Hague, 1 July 2010,
[7] Mixed Blessings: US Government Engagement with Religion in Conflict Prone Settings, Centre for Strategic Studies, Washington DC, July 2007, page 2
[8] Bryan Hehir cited in Madeline Albright "The Mighty and the Almighty," Harper-Collins, New York, 2006, page 66
[9] Bryan Hehir cited in Madeline Albright "The Mighty and the Almighty," Harper-Collins, New York, 2006, page 74
[10] The secularization thesis is advocated by Steve Bruce. David Martin accepts secularization, but that it takes place in very different contexts and Grace Davie advocates the notion of the European exception.

[11] Scott Thomas, Journal of International Affairs, Volume 61, Number 1, page 31
[12] Bernard Lewis, "From Bable to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East," Oxford University Press, New York, 2004, page 285
[13] James A Bill, The Eagle and the Lion: The Tragedy of American-Iranian Relations (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988).
[14] Madeline Albright "The Mighty and the Almighty," Harper-Collins, New York, 2006, page 9
[15] ibid, pages 39-40

[16] Madeline Albright "The Mighty and the Almighty," Harper-Collins, New York, 2006, page 43
[17] Woodward Bob, The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008, Smon & Schuster, 2008
[18] Peter Berger, Pew Forum on Religion
[19] Madeline Albright "The Mighty and the Almighty," Harper-Collins, New York, 2006, page 285
[20] Timothy Shah and Monica Duffy Toft, "God is Winning" (awaiting publication), but longer version of a piece in Foreign Policy, "Why God is Winning", July/August 2006 pages 39-43

[21] Madeline Albright "The Mighty and the Almighty," Harper-Collins, New York, 2006, page 67
[22] ibid, page 68
[23] Samuel P Huntington, "Religion and the Third Wave," The National Interest, Summer 1991, pages 29-42
[24] Sheherazade Jafari, Journal of International Affairs, Volume 61, Number 1, page 114
[25] Timothy Shah and Monica Duffy Toft, "God is Winning" (awaiting publication), but longer version of a piece in Foreign Policy, "Why God is Winning", July/August 2006 pages 39-43

[26] Gallup, "Voices of the People," 16 November 2005
[27] World Christian Encyclopaedia, cited in Timothy Shah and Monica Duffy Toft, "God is Winning" (awaiting publication), but longer version of a piece in Foreign Policy, "Why God is Winning", July/August 2006 pages 39-43
[28] The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, March 21, 2007, cited in Mixed Blessings: US Government Engagement with Religion in Conflict Prone Settings, Centre for Strategic Studies, Washington DC, July 2007, page 29
[29] John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge "God Is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World", Penguin Press HC, 2009

[30] Prime Minister David Cameron, Birmingham Airport, 19 September 2010
[31] Pope Benedict XVI, Westminster Hall Speech, 17 September 2010
[32] Engaging Religious Communities Abroad: A New Imperative for US Foreign Policy, The Chicago Global Affairs Council, 2010, page 5
[33] Mixed Blessings: US Government Engagement with Religion in Conflict Prone Settings, Centre for Strategic Studies, Washington DC, July 2007, page 41
[34] Madeline Albright "The Mighty and the Almighty," Harper-Collins, New York, 2006, page 66
[35] Editors' Forward, Journal of International Affairs, Volume 61, Number 1, page vi

[36] Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae 2006
[37] Pope Benedict XVI, Westminster Hall, 17 September 2010
[38] Her Majesty The Queen, speech to the Pope, Edinburgh, 16 September 2010
[39] Engaging Religious Communities Abroad: A New Imperative for US Foreign Policy, The Chicago Global Affairs Council, 2010, page 11
[40] Mixed Blessings: US Government Engagement with Religion in Conflict Prone Settings, Centre for Strategic Studies, Washington DC, July 2007, page 9

[41] Pope Benedict XVI, Westminster Hall Speech, 17 September 2010
[42] Pope Benedict XVI, Westminster Hall, 17 September 2010
[43] Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Diplomatic Corps, January 2008
[44] Pope Benedict XVI, Address in Westminster Hall, September 17 2010
[45] Rt. Hon David Cameron, Prime Minister, Speech at Birmingham Airport, September 19, 2010.


The Health Care Council and "Humanae Vitae"
"A Prophetic Document of the Magisterium of the Church"

OMAHA, Nebraska, SEPT. 11, 2010 - Here is the address delivered Sept. 3 by Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, at the four-day "Celebration of Love and Life" seminar that marked the 25th anniversary of the Pope Paul VI Institute.

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"Humanae Vitae" and the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers

As president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, I feel very honored to be invited by the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction. By its nature, the subject entrusted to me, namely "'Humanae Vitae': The Challenge for Health Care Workers," belongs in a certain sense to the mission of our dicastery, which has among its principal tasks that of coordinating the many bodies that directly involve Christians in the health care sector in order to foster and spread an increasingly better ethical-religious formation of Christian health care workers in the world.

The Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers published an important document on the subject in 1995 with the significant title "Charter for Health Care Workers" in order to offer an overall summary of the position of the Church in relation to human life. This document is organized into three parts: 1) Procreation; 2) Life; and 3) Death. "Humanae Vitae" can thus be said to be a prophetic document of the magisterium of the Church, as can be evinced from the "Charter for Health Care Workers," and constitutes a challenge for health care workers. Let us address this challenge together.

"Humanae Vitae": An Encyclical, a Challenge

It is well known that the encyclical "Humanae Vitae," as a teaching of the pontifical magisterium, is a challenge, both in an objective sense and in a subjective sense; or, to put it another way, "Humanae Vitae" is today the subject of a challenge in a passive sense inasmuch as it is challenged, and in an active sense inasmuch as it challenges. In simpler words, the encyclical "Humanae Vitae" of Paul VI lends itself to a true challenge in two senses. We are witnessing, indeed, a challenge to this encyclical and a challenge of this encyclical. The challenge to "Humanae Vitae," which immediately followed its publication and which still continues, comes from various points of view and above all from its purported biologistic and Augustinian approach that is said to be inherited from "Casti Connubii" (Dec. 31, 1930).

The challenge of "Humanae Vitae," instead, has been centered around its intrinsic normative principle as an ineluctable conclusion of the premises of "Gaudium et Spes" of the Second Vatican Council. Through this principle, which is always valid, it became a challenge because of its character when faced with the criteria of the majority of the famous ad hoc Commission, as well as the advances achieved and obtained at a scientific and technical level, specifically in the field of biogenetics. Through this doctrinal character, "Humanae Vitae" has also challenged the contradictions of artificial procreation. These two challenges -- one passive and the other active -- obviously call upon health workers in particular inasmuch as they are specifically ministers of human life. [...]

The challenge to "Humanae Vitae," and this should be emphasized, relates to an equivocal reading of the text more than 40 years after its publication. This challenge to "Humanae Vitae" has provoked in turn the challenge of "Humanae Vitae," namely a univocal, pertinent and correct reading of the text. These two challenges, which involve each other reciprocally, challenge health care workers. Thus the division of these challenges does not mean their separation; they intertwine and become unbound in the challenge to health care workers.

Thus, entering into the heart of "Humanae Vitae," I am of the view that we have come to its most demanding challenge for health care workers. This is because, in this challenge to the majority and to the challengers, after 40 years, "Humanae Vitae" teaches with categorical firmness the very much discussed principle of the two aspects of conjugal love -- the unitive and procreative -- which should not be separated in the conjugal act. In addition, because on the basis of this intrinsic moral criterion it is the task specifically of health care workers to indicate the inconsistency of the criteria of the majority and their followers today. This challenge to "Humanae Vitae" also concerns all the policies involving assistance in replacing the conjugal act made possible by the advance of science and technology. It is no accident that Pope Paul VI expressly appealed to medical doctors and to health care personnel.

"Humanae Vitae" and the Challenge to Health Care Workers

In "Humanae Vitae" we find the words for medical doctors and other health workers: "We hold in the highest esteem those doctors and members of the nursing profession who, in the exercise of their calling, endeavor to fulfill the demands of their Christian vocation before any merely human interest. Let them therefore continue constant in their resolution always to support those lines of action which accord with faith and with right reason. And let them strive to win agreement and support for these policies among their professional colleagues. Moreover, they should regard it as an essential part of their skill to make themselves fully proficient in this difficult field of medical knowledge. For then, when married couples ask for their advice, they may be in a position to give them right counsel and to point them in the proper direction. Married couples have a right to expect this much from them" (No. 27). To this challenge of "Humanae Vitae" the "Charter for Health Care Workers" responds by declaring as follows: "The work of health care persons is a very valuable service to life. It expresses a profoundly human and Christian commitment, undertaken and carried out not only as a technical activity but also as one of dedication to and love of neighbor. It is 'a form of Christian witness.' 'Their profession calls for them to be guardians and servants of human life' ("Evangelium Vitae," 89)." In order to avoid any misunderstanding, let us accept the challenge of "Humanae Vitae" and follow closely the teaching of Paul VI. Its challenge to health care workers thus also becomes their giving primary value to conjugal love and responsible parenthood. Indeed, an in-depth knowledge of both is absolutely necessary to their professional work.

Pastoral Challenges or Prospects?

The Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers has just reached the age of 25. As regards the history of the Church this is not a long period for making an assessment but it is enough to allow us to ask ourselves if its founding intuition, its goals and its mission have been confirmed in concrete historical reality. Hence the reference to the pastoral challenges that this dicastery has to address in the present and in the future. The goals of the Pontifical Council, pointed out in the founding motu proprio "Dolentium Hominum," are "pastoral" goals. Thus the challenges for the action of the Church, and thus also for the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, are present in that field in which this pastoral care has to be carried out in practical terms, that is to say of health and illness of human reproduction, of the whole health care world with its technical-scientific development, the complexity of its structures and individuals, with consequent social changes and ideologies about life, health, human reproduction , illness and death. It is specifically here that the field of action of the Pontifical Health Care Workers is to be found and at the same time it is from here that there come the questions and the appeals to thought with the view to the incarnation of Gospel values in contemporary medical culture. To understand things well, however, the challenges in question are at the same time new prospects which stimulate the intelligence and the creativity of the people of God.

The Challenges

The first challenge is cultural. After "Evangelium Vitae" there has often been discussion about two phrases that were made famous by the Venerable John Paul II: "culture of life" and "culture of death." This last refers to all those forms of thought, or practices, of institutions and of socio-cultural movements of a materialistic character. The domination of lifestyles that limit the horizon of human life solely to its earthly journey is a strong challenge of the contemporary age to the proclaiming of the Gospel in general and pastoral care in health in particular: permissive laws such as those on abortion and euthanasia, the transformation of hospitals and clinics into profit-making businesses, the contesting of public health care in attempt to reduce it to a self-service according to the real or purported needs of citizens, etc.

In this context, how can one assure the pastoral presence of the Church in health care structures that are prevalently based on these cultures? How can one create the possibility that suffering and pain can receive a positive meaning, that they can be fecund and create interior riches and witness to high values of the meaning of life, of love and of solidarity rather than inducing hopelessness?

Care for the sick and for those who suffer has been declared to be an integral part of the mission of the Church ("Dolentium Hominum," No. 1). How can we extend the pastoral presence of the Church in each health care structure, whether small or large, that is present in the local area where the Church is at work?

Catholic health care institutions are a valuable patrimony of the Church and of society inasmuch as they guarantee the values of freedom, equality and solidarity. Faced with the phenomenon of the ageing of the category of men and women religious and the decrease in vocations, but also problems that are no less serious of an economic and financial character, how can we maintain and strengthen their existence, diffusion and identity of bearing witness to Gospel charity, always assuring the integral quality of services, above all to those most in need?

Thanks to the advances in science and technology, contemporary health care has been experiencing an exponential development. Faced with the contradiction of the continuance in many poor areas of the world of diseases that have been eradicated elsewhere, and of the unequal use of the benefits of medical, scientific and technological progress, how can the Church keep up with technical developments applied to the health care field in general and to medicine in particular, especially where the need to do this is compelling?

The contemporary world is dominated by the phenomenon of communication. How can the Church retrieve, once again in the health care field -- and also in the field of procreation -- its ability to engage in pastoral communication that is both effective and prophetic at the same time, without allowing itself to be involved in useless and unfruitful controversies?

The secularization of medicine, with a consequent loss of the mystical and the ability to attract health care personnel. Today people do not draw near to the sick principally out of a vocation to do so, out of a sense of mission. They do so for other motives. Hence the so-much condemned phenomenon of the dehumanization of medicine: a technical hypotrophy exists. Care is increasingly becoming technical and less human in character.

The lack of ethical training in professionals has a negative effect on subjects that are very important for life such as genetics, euthanasia, abortion and death, or upon subjects that come from the profession: responsibility, respect, justice and loyalty.


The Second Vatican Council taught that care for the suffering is the task of the whole of the Church and called on bishops and priests to care for "the sick and the dying, visiting them and comforting them in the Lord" ("Presbyterorum Ordinis," Nos. 6, 8; "Lumen Gentium," No. 38). Developments of the teaching can be found both in the Cod of Church Law (Canon 529.1) where parish priests are reminded of their duty to care for the sick and to do so with generous charity. The sssemblies of the Synod of Bishops, especially in the apostolic exhortation "Cristifideles Laici" (Nos. 53 an 54), laid especial emphasis on this.

Nonetheless, the prospects for constant work by the Pontifical Council for Health Workers to promote, coordinate and animate pastoral care in the health have their fulcrum in the tasks assigned to it by the apostolic constitution which provide a broad and profound, indeed universal, vision as to the framework of action for our dicastery. Among the above-mentioned tasks we also find that of lending "its assistance to the particular Churches to ensure that health care workers receive spiritual help in carrying out their work according to the Christian teachings, and especially that in turn the pastoral workers in the field may never lack the help they need to carry out their work" ("Pastor Bonus," No. 153, 2). Not losing from sight this universal horizon of its action of promoting, animating and coordinating pastoral care in health is fundamental in the organization and implementation of the programs of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers. Thus in addition to the organization of initiatives and activities with an international profile such as the annual international conferences and the World Day of the Sick, this dicastery intends to place especial emphasis on the points listed below.

To be adequate, pastoral care in health and human reproduction like every other form of action, needs a pastoral project at all levels of the national territory: the national level, the regional level, the diocesan level, the parish level and even at a very local level or a the level of the structure itself.

As a domestic church, the family is also called to proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of Life. This is a task that concerns above all the marriage partners who are called to be transmitters of life on the basis of an always renewed awareness of the meaning of generation, as a privileged event in which it is demonstrated that human life is a gift which is received and in its turn is to be given. In the generation of a new life parents perceive that their child "as the fruit of their mutual gift of love, is, in turn, a gift for both of them, a gift which flows from them." This is why the Charter for Health Care Workers proclaims: "Health Care Workers lend their service whenever they help the parents to procreate responsibly supporting the conditions, removing obstacles and protecting them from invasive techniques unworthy of human procreation" (No. 11).

Thus it is of fundamental importance to invest in formation. Many of the challenges listed above have aspects of great complexity and it is difficult today to think that one can engage in a new evangelization without bearing this in mind and without health care workers being trained in an adequate way which will allow them to face up to these challenges with great skill and consistency. The Second Vatican Council laid great emphasis on this ("Optatam Totius," No. 4).

Formation must be first of all be multifaceted, integral and suited to the various forms of apostolate (cf. AA, Nos., 16-19, 28-29, 31). As regards the instruments of formation, today the are many in number and differ from each other: One can begin from experience, from belonging to pastoral activities where good organization exists, coordination and assessment; one can be trained by attending lessons given by good teachers and ad hoc courses in seminaries and universities, in the same way as academic qualifications can be obtained in theology faculties that teach pastoral care in health.

Reference has been made also to the fact that being a health care worker involves a missionary dimension. Today every mission is a response to a calling. A vocation involves feeling called to evangelize this sector of the world of health care. The mandate, the sending out, is not enough. It is essential that the evangelizer feels attracted and has a vocation. From this vocation will then be born a great desire for training, study, concern and enthusiasm. If ardor is absent, pastoral integration and organization are difficult; there is a concern only about "keeping" the existent, and neither creativity nor prophecy are fostered. The Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers stresses this aspect in its relations with the bishops' conferences and the religious families that are active in the world of health care.


As can be deduced, what has been said hitherto in this paper, the creation of the dicastery of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers was a brilliant prophetic intuition of the Venerable John Paul II. The universal horizon of his action, which was always at the service of man and specific and local Churches, can be summed up in the following words of the Holy Father Benedict XVI: "Individuals who care for those in need must first be professionally competent: They should be properly trained in what to do and how to do it, and committed to continuing care. Yet, while professional competence is a primary, fundamental requirement, it is not of itself sufficient. We are dealing with human being, and human beings always need something more than technically proper care. They need humanity. They need heartfelt concern. Those who work for the Church's charitable organizations must be distinguished by the fact that they do not merely meet the needs of the moment, but they dedicate themselves to others with heartfelt concern, enabling them to experience the richness of their humanity. Consequently, in addition to their necessary professional training, these charity workers need a formation of the heart: They need to be led to that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others. As a result, love of neighbor will no longer be for them a commandment imposed, so to speak, from without, but a consequence deriving from their faith, a faith which becomes active through love for life (cf. Galatians 5:6)" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 31).

Thank you for your attention.



Holy See to UN on Gender Equality
"Women ... Are Dynamic Agents of Development"
NEW YORK, JULY 2, 2010 - Here is the address Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, delivered Thursday before the high-level segment of the Economic and Social Council Substantive Session for 2010.

* * *

Mr. President,

This year’s substantive session is particularly pertinent leading up to the long expected World Summit on the MDGs. All women and girls who are affected by the MDGs look forward towards an increased recognition of their value and equality as well as their dignified role in development. Any deliberation on the matter will be incomplete without ensuring the advancement of women, who are dynamic agents of development in the family, society and the world.

Ever since world leaders committed their governments to the ambitious objective of attaining the MDGs, some remarkable progress has been achieved in mainstreaming women’s perspectives in development both in multilateral and national policies. Even those countries lagging behind in many aspects of development are giving more prominence to the role of women in public life, especially in the political arena.

The empowerment of women presupposes universal human dignity and, thus, the dignity of each and every individual. The notion denotes complementarity between man and woman, which means equality in diversity: where equality and diversity are based on biological data, expressed traditionally by male and female sexuality, and on the primacy of the person. It concerns also roles to be held and functions to be performed in society. In that regard, equality is not sameness, and difference is not inequality.

Empowerment of women for development means also recognition of the gifts and talents of every woman and is affirmed through the provision of better health care, education and equal opportunities. Empowering women and respecting their dignity mean also honoring their capacity to serve and devote themselves to society and to the family through motherhood which entails a self-giving love and care-giving. Altruism, dedication and service to others are healthy and contribute to personal dignity. If domesticity can be considered a particular gift of mothers in cultivating a genuine intrapersonal relationship in the family and society, then family-friendly working arrangements, shared family-care leave and redistribution of the burden of unpaid work will be given the attention they rightly deserve.

The Holy See notes with concern that inequalities between individuals and between countries thrive and various forms of discrimination, exploitation and oppression of women and girls persist, which must be addressed by the provision of adequate social protection measures for them, as appropriate to national contexts.

In the health sector there is a need to eliminate inequalities between men and women and increase the capacity of women to care for themselves principally by being afforded adequate health care. Scientific studies have shown remarkable improvement in the reduction of maternal and infant mortality, revealing the importance of complementary investing in other areas relevant to women and girls including nutrition, general health and education. The real advancement of women is not achieved by concentrating on a particular health issue to the neglect of others but by promoting their overall health which necessarily includes giving more attention to addressing women-specific diseases.

Women’s economic empowerment is essential for the economic development of the family and of society. Access to land and property, credit facilities and equal opportunities for financial services for women will help ensure their economic stability. In this process, the whole household and community must support their entrepreneurship. The ethical dimension of their development and economic empowerment as well as their service to the family must not be overlooked.

Tragically, violence against women, especially in the home and work place, and discrimination in the professional field, even on the pay and pension scale, are growing concerns. Through adequate legal frame-works and national policies, perpetrators of violence must be brought to justice and women must be afforded rehabilitation. Women and girls must be guaranteed their full enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights including equal access to education and health.

My delegation supports the initiatives in favour of the rights in particular of women migrants and refugees and women with disabilities. Human rights learning campaigns especially for girls and women must be promoted, even from early school days and also through non-formal education. Civil society and NGOs, women’s associations and faith-based organizations can contribute a great deal in human rights learning and in quality education.

In concluding, Mr. President, the more the dignity of women is protected and promoted, the more the family, the community and society will truly be fostered.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Holy See to UN on Aid to Refugees
"A Culture of Friendly Human Interaction ... Can Nourish Further Solidarity"

GENEVA, JUNE 30, 2010 Here is the address Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent representative of the Holy See to the U.N. offices in Geneva, delivered June 22 at a meeting of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The Vatican published the text of the address today.

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Mr. Chairman,

The Holy See Delegation supports the intense effort made by the UNHCR to call attention to, to refine and to advance the priority of extending increased protection to refugees and persons of concern. Though it appears like a counter-trend to current political sensitivities, it is a timely response, since conflicts have been displacing more people and forced return of potential asylum seekers gives evidence of a difficult political environment for uprooted people. The latest statistics indicate that involuntary movement of persons around the globe continues. The number of people of concern to the UNHCR has grown to 43.3 million worldwide in 2009, the highest number since the 1990s. A sign of current instability and change, for example, is the number of IDPs in Colombia that has reached 4.9 million at the end of 2009 -- a record high -- and the new huge wave of refugees from Kyrgyzstan.

Confronted with such figures, and the suffering of persons hiding behind the statistics, the right course of action is continuing the enlargement process of categories of people to be protected as the international community has progressively included them in the mandate of the UNHCR. Among the new categories for which more targeted provisions can be developed, mixed flows, internally displaced and urban refugees have rightly been pointed out. The increasing attention given to internally displaced persons moves in this positive general direction. Now that over fifty percent of the world population lives in urban areas, it is not surprising that refugees follow the same trend and move to cities in greater number, creating specific challenges for their protection from registration of their children at birth to avoid statelessness to employment possibilities, access to education and legal residence. Today’s ‘boat people’ from Africa, Asia and elsewhere cannot simply be towed back to the port of origin of their journey as if distancing their presence would offer a real solution. Similarly, the automatic resort to detaining potential refugees and asylum seekers -- often in appalling conditions -- is inappropriate.

A combination of safety, respect of human dignity and human rights is necessary. To sustain such a combination, a renewed effort is required to prevent forced displacement before it starts and to anticipate events that could trigger protection issues. Equally important is maintaining a strong international consensus on the protection regime which is founded on international law at a time when non-state actors play outside its rules. In the end, protection is an ethical commitment that underlies and serves as a foundation for effective action. The responsibility we owe to vulnerable groups of our one human family prompts adequate answers to remedy the violation of rights and to assist the victims. The same sense of coherence needs to drive States in translating into appropriate protection services the commitments they have assumed. In the final analysis one cannot say that a state has met its responsibility when persons of concern are left in a state of destitution. It certainly is a commendable and encouraging sign that, notwithstanding the enormous difficulty that the current financial and economic crises have brought about, contributions provided for refugees have increased. A culture of friendly human interaction in our globalized world can nourish further solidarity.

The role of media in presenting a positive perception of forcibly displaced persons, a fair indication of the real causes of this displacement and a sound and realistic sense of solidarity can counteract disinformation and the political manipulation of fears of unknown cultures and people. It can show instead that refugees and forcibly displaced people have talents and capacities to offer and show as well the advantages of building together a common future.

Mr. Chairman,

In conclusion, allow me to quote the words of Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of World Refugee Day 2010: "Refugees wish to find welcome and to be recognized in their dignity and their fundamental rights; at the same time, they intend to offer their contribution to the society that accepts them. We pray that, in a just reciprocity, an adequate response be given to such expectations and that the refugees show the respect they feel for the identity of the receiving community."

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Holy See's Address to UN on Maternal Mortality
"Save the Lives Both of Mothers and of Child, Born and Yet-to-Be-Born"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2010 - Here is the address Archbishop Silvano Tomasi the Holy See's permanent observer at the United Nations in Geneva, delivered June 14 when he addressed the regular session of the Human Rights Council on the topic of maternal mortality. The text of his talk was released by the Vatican on Wednesday.

* * *

Mr. President,

Based on the significant commitment and experience of the Catholic Church in assisting mothers and newborn babies, since the earliest of times, especially through its hospitals and maternity and pediatric clinics, my delegation wishes to express its urgent concerns about the shocking number of maternal deaths that continue to occur -- estimated by reliable indicators at 350,000 a year -- most especially among the poorest and most marginalized and disenfranchised populations.[1]

The Holy See's approach to Maternal Mortality is holistic, since it gives priority to the rights of mothers and child, both those already born and those awaiting birth in the womb of the mother. Not surprisingly, a strong correlation is revealed between statistics related to Maternal Mortality and those related to Neonatal Death, indicating that many measures aimed at combating maternal mortality, in fact, also contribute to a further reduction of child mortality. Moreover, we should not forget that 3 million babies die annually during their first week of life, another 3 million are stillborn, 2.3 million children die each year during their first year of life.

Mr. President,

Improvements to reduce Maternal Mortality have been made possible due to higher per capita income, higher education rates for women and increasing availability of basic medical care, including "skilled birth attendants." A recent study on Maternal Mortality has suggested that maternal mortality in Africa could be significantly reduced if HIV-positive mothers were given access to antiretroviral medications. The availability of emergency obstetric care, including the provision of universal pre and post-natal care, and adequate transport to medical facilities (when necessary), skilled birth attendants, a clean blood supply and a clean water supply, appropriate antibiotics, and the introduction of a minimum age of 18 years for marriage, are all measures that could benefit both mothers and their children. Most importantly, if the international community wishes to effectively reduce the tragic rates of maternal mortality, respect for and promotion of the right to health and of access to medications must not only be spoken about, but also be put into action, by States as well as by non-governmental organizations and by civil society.

Mr. President,

Policies aimed at combating Maternal Mortality and Child Mortality need to strike a delicate balance between the rights of mother and those of the child, both of whom are rights bearers, the first of which is the right to life. The maternity clinics and hospitals promoted by the Catholic Church do exactly that: they save the lives both of mothers and of child, born and yet-to-be-born.

Thank you Mr. President.


[1] According to a study recently published in the medical journal, The Lancet, ( Vol.375, Issue 9726, pp.1609-1623, 8 May 2010) there are approximately 350,000 maternal deaths per annum worldwide; WHO and UNICEF estimate 500,000 such deaths each year. The difference is attributed to diverse approaches to statistical modeling.


"Address the Individual and Societal Causes for Such Activity"
NEW YORK, JUNE 22, 2010 - Here is the text of an address Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, gave Monday at the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly on the topic of transnational organized crime.

* * *

Mr. President,

My delegation would like to thank you and the panelists for their work in this useful discussion on transnational organized crime.

One result of an interconnected world is the ever-growing interconnected nature of crime. While the ability to communicate and trade with people in all corners of the globe has promoted global solidarity and commerce, it has also led to an escalation in crime across national boundaries. This dynamic in the globalized nature of crime presents new challenges to legal and judicial mechanisms as they attempt to hold criminals accountable and protect their citizens.

The Naples Declaration and the Palermo Convention constitute substantial efforts by the international community to establish cooperation in order to prevent criminal activity and prosecute perpetrators. These Conventions recognized the increasingly indisputable observation that as crime becomes international, the response also must become international.

Today, millions of people are victims of trafficking, of which, over 70%, almost all women and girls, are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. This reality is both tragic and inexcusable. The transnational trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation is based on a balance between the supply of victims from sending countries and the demand in receiving countries. The trafficking process begins with the demand. To highlight victims’ rights needs to go along with addressing the problem of demand and, with it, the insidious degradation of human dignity that always accompanies the scourge of trafficking in persons. In fact, rather than effectively addressing the demand, more and more laws are passed which seek to legitimize this dehumanizing work. Even the very global sporting and social events which are meant to foster greater respect and harmony among people around the world have become instead opportunities for the greater exploitation and trafficking of women and girls.

Similarly, the global drug trade continues to have devastating affects on individuals, families and communities around the world. In areas of production, the demand for illegal drugs fuels organized gangs, drug cartels and terrorists. These criminal organizations use the financing from this illegal activity to spread fear and violence so as to secure their pursuit of greed and power. The activities of these individuals and organizations must be addressed urgently by all legitimate means possible in order to allow communities to live in peace and prosperity rather than in fear of crime and hostility.

To address this problem, the international community must not only focus on the areas of production but must also address the ever present demand for illegal drugs. This demand, driven heavily by the developed world, demonstrates that in order to address drug production abroad, efforts must be taken at home. Drug use not only afflicts the international community, but also has immediate detrimental effects on the physical, social and spiritual lives of individuals and their families. Thus, focus also on these individuals is necessary in order to find ways to prevent drug abuse in the first place and to rehabilitate drug abusers so that they can contribute more fully to the common good.

Mr. President,

If we wish to engage in a sustained process to stop and reverse these two major areas of international crime, peoples and cultures will have to find common ground that can underpin human relations everywhere on the basis of our shared humanity. There remains a profound need to uphold the inherent dignity and worth of every human being, with special attention to the most vulnerable of society. In that vein we should focus our efforts on addressing and even criminalizing the devastating demand for prostitution, which dehumanizes women and girls and fuels illegal trafficking around the world.

Likewise, a people-centered approach to the international drug trade must recognize that the consumers of this illegal activity must be held accountable and also provided rehabilitation. Criminal accountability is only one factor in addressing this problem as personal, social and spiritual rehabilitation is necessary for drug abusers and the communities devastated by the producing and smuggling of drugs. Also, efforts by governments and civil society to restore the health of individuals and communities must continue to be encouraged since all people have a claim to social and economic development.

This debate helps to shed light on the need to address international crime in a way which recognizes the growing international nature of crime but also allows this assembly to recognize that this response requires national efforts to address the individual and societal causes for such activity. While it is imperative to hold accountable for their actions criminals who disrupt the common good, so too is it necessary to recognize the rights and dignity of victims and offenders in order to remedy the harm caused by crime.


Holy See to UN on Access to Health Care
"The Right to Health Is Universally Recognized as a Fundamental Right"
GENEVA, JUNE 21, 2010 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the address Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva, delivered June 8 at the 14th regular session of the Human Rights Council.

* * *

Mr. President,

With regard to the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, my delegation wishes to raise additional concerns regarding the need for effective action in order to guarantee Universal Access to medicines and diagnostic tools for all persons. The Special Rapporteur focused on this issue during his Report to the Eleventh Session of this distinguished Council.[1] However, continued vigilance must be maintained in this regard.

As the members of this Council already are well aware, the right to health is universally recognized as a fundamental right. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) includes the right to health and medical care within the more general rubric of the right "to enjoy an adequate standard of living"[2]. Article 12.1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), however, directly recognizes the right to enjoy the best physical and mental condition.[3]

The Committee on Economic and Cultural Rights, in its General Comment No. 14[4], moreover, identified the following minimum requirements for States to ensure: (1) the right of access to health care in a non-discriminatory way, (2) access to basic nutritional level, (3) access to housing, basic sanitation and a sufficient supply of drinking water, (4) the supply of essential drugs, (5) an equitable distribution of benefits and health services, and (6) adoption of national strategies to prevent and combat epidemics.

Mr. President, the Catholic Church provides a major contribution to health care in all parts of the world -- through local churches, religious institutions and private initiatives, which act on their own responsibility and in the respect of the law of each country -- including the promotion of 5,378 hospitals, 18,088 dispensaries and clinics, 521 leprosaria, and 15,448 homes for the aged, the chronically ill, or disabled people. With information coming from these on-the-ground realities in some of the most poor, isolated, and marginalized communities, my delegation is obliged to report that the rights detailed in the international instruments already mentioned are far from being realized.

One major impediment to the realization of these rights is the lack of access to affordable medicines and diagnostic tools that can be administered and utilized in low-income, low-technology settings. Among the disturbing trends and findings reported by the Special Rapporteur are the following: "Diseases of poverty" still account for 50 per cent of the burden of disease in developing countries, nearly ten times higher than in developed countries[5]; more than 100 million people fall into poverty annually because they have to pay for health care[6]; in developing countries, patients themselves pay for 50 to 90 per cent of essential medicines[7]; nearly 2 billion people lack access to essential medicines [8].

One group particularly deprived of access to medicines is that of children. Many essential medicines have not been developed in appropriate formulations or dosages specific to pediatric use. Thus families and health care workers often are forced to engage in a "guessing game" on how best to divide adult-size pills for use with children. This situation can result in the tragic loss of life or continued chronic illness among such needy children. For example, of the 2.1 million children estimated to be living with HIV infection[9], only 38% were received life-saving anti-retroviral medications at the end of 2008[10]. This treatment gap is partially due to the lack of "child friendly" medications to treat the HIV infection.

Thus the Committee on the Rights of the Child has declared: "The obligations of States parties under the Convention extend to ensuring that children have sustained and equal access to comprehensive treatment and care, including necessary HIV-related drugs … on a basis of non-discrimination."[11]

My delegation is well aware of the complexities inherent in the intellectual property aspects related to the issue of access to medicines. These considerations, including the flexibilities available to applying the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, are well documented in the 2009 Report of the Special Rapporteur. We further recognize that serious efforts already have been undertaken to implement the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property, established in 2008 by the 61stWorld Health Assembly. However, the intense debates recently pursued at the 63rd World Health Assembly demonstrate that the international community has not yet succeeded in its aim to provide equitable access to medicines and indicate the need for further creative reflection and action in this regard.

Mr. President, my delegation urges this Council to renew its commitment as a key stakeholder in efforts to assert and safeguard the right to health by guaranteeing equitable access to essential medicines. We do so with a firm conviction that "treatment should be extended to every human being" and as an essential element of "the search for the greatest possible human development," and with a strong belief that "[t]his ethical perspective [is] based on the dignity of the human person and on the fundamental rights and duties connecte with it."[12]


[1] Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health to the Eleventh Session of the Human Rights Council, Eleventh Session,A/HRC/11/12, 31 March 2009



[4] Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Twenty-second session, Geneva , 25 April-12 May 2000, E/C.12/2000/4, 11 August 2000,

[5] World Health Organization, Public Health Innovation and Intellectual Property Rights, A Report of the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health ( Geneva , 2006) p. 3.

[6] World Health Organization, World Health Report, Primary Health Care Now More than Ever ( Geneva , 2008).

[7] A/61/338, para. 75.

[8] World Health Organization, "WHO Medicines Strategy: Countries at the Core, 2004- 2007" , (2004).

[9] UNAIDS, 2009 AIDS Epidemic Update, Geneva , November 2009.

[10] Children and AIDS: Fourth Stocktaking Report, UNICEF, 2009, p. 10.

[11] Committee on the Rights of the Child, Thirty-Second Session, General Comment No. 3 (2003), HIV/AIDS and the rights of the child, CRC/GC/2003/3,$FILE/G0340816.pdf

[12] Pope Benedict XVI, Address To The Plenary Assembly Of The Pontifical Council For Health Pastoral Care, 22 March 2007,


"We Need to Provide People With More Than Knowledge"

NEW YORK, JUNE 10, 2010 ( Here is the text of an address Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, gave Wednesday at the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly on the topic of HIV/AIDS.

* * *

Mr. President,

In the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, Heads of State and Government acknowledged with urgent concern that the spread of HIV constituted "a global emergency and one of the most formidable challenges to human life and dignity" as well as a serious obstacle to the realization of the internationally agreed development goals (A/RES/S-26/2). Five years later in the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS they noted with alarm that one quarter of a century into this scourge we are still facing an "unprecedented human catastrophe" (A/RES/60/262). On both occasions they made a commitment to take the necessary action to combat this serious threat to the human community.

Given the significant engagement of Catholic Church-sponsored organizations in providing care in all parts of the world for those with HIV/AIDS, my delegation takes this occasion to note that the global community continues to be confronted by many obstacles in its efforts to respond adequately to this problem, for example, that 7,400 people become infected with HIV every day; that nearly four million people are currently receiving treatment, while 9.7 million people are still in need of such life-saving and life-prolonging interventions; and that for every two people who commence treatment, 5 more become infected (UNAIDS: Country and regional responses to AIDS).

Mr. President,

If AIDS is to be combated by realistically facing its deeper causes and the sick are to be given the loving care they need, we need to provide people with more than knowledge, ability, technical competence and tools. For this reason my delegation strongly recommends that more attention and resources be dedicated to support a value-based approach grounded in the human dimension of sexuality, that is to say, a spiritual and human renewal that leads to a new way of behaving toward others. The spread of AIDS can be stopped effectively, as has been affirmed also by public health experts, when this respect for the dignity of human nature and for its inherent moral law is included as an essential element in HIV prevention efforts.

My delegation is deeply concerned about the gap in available funds for antiretroviral treatment among poor and marginalized populations. Catholic Church-related providers in Uganda, South Africa, Haiti, and Papua New Guinea, among others, report that international donors have instructed them not to enroll new patients into these programs and express concern about further cutbacks even for those already receiving such treatment. The global community carries a serious responsibility to offer equitable and continuous access to such medications. Failure to do so will not only cause untold loss and suffering to those individuals and families directly affected by the disease but also will have grave public health, social, and economic consequences for the entire human family.

Particularly vulnerable are children living with HIV or HIV/TB co-infection. Access to early diagnosis and treatment is far less accessible to HIV-positive children than adults; without such access at least one-third of such children die before their first birthday and at least one-half die before their second birthday. Such loss of the future generations and leaders can no longer be met with silence or indifference.

Mr. President,

Through their global commitments in 2001 and 2006, Heads of State and Government articulated a vision of equitable access as well as comprehensive and effective action in response to the global HIV spread. The present-day challenges call into question our ability to fulfill such promises. Yet, in the face of the ongoing threat of HIV and AIDS, we must acknowledge the demands of the human family for worldwide solidarity, for honest evaluation of past approaches that may have been based more on ideology than on science and values, and for determined action that respects human dignity and promotes the integral development of each and every person and of all society.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Holy See's Address to ICC Review
"Justice ... Protects Human Rights and Fosters Greater Trust Between Nations"

KAMPALA, Uganda, JUNE 3, 2010 - Here is the statement delivered Tuesday by Archbishop Alain Paul Charles Lebeaupin, apostolic nuncio to Kenya and head of the Holy See's delegation to the International Criminal Court Review Conference of the Rome Statute, under way this week in Kampala.
* * *

Mr. President,

My delegation would like to join those thanking the government of Uganda for its hospitality and willingness to host this important meeting to review the Rome Statute.

Twelve years ago delegates went to Rome to undertake the goal of creating a new international legal structure which sought to ensure that gross violations of human rights would no longer be tolerated by the international community and that those responsible for perpetuating such violations would be held accountable for their actions.

Now, we come to Kampala to measure the effectiveness of these efforts and to continue to improve judicial systems to ensure that true justice is available to everyone in all corners of the globe.

At the heart of this exercise is the need to fully understand what it means when we speak of "justice." Justice is the virtue which recognizes the need for people to give due to God and each other and demands that each person respect the rights of each other and establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good.[a] This justice is not based merely on legal determinations or juridical instruments but rather is based on the moral law which recognizes the inherent dignity of the human person.

This justice recognizes many forms: commutative justice, which regulates exchanges between persons and between institutions with strict adherence to their rights; distributive justice, which determines what the community owes its citizens in proportion to their needs and contributions; legal justice, which determines what a citizen owes the community, and social justice, which takes into account social, political and economic concerns as well as their corresponding structural dimensions within society.[b] By recognizing that the work for justice requires actions in many areas, we recognize that justice cannot be limited to the realm of legal accountability but also requires society to work positively towards creating a more just society in all aspects of the social order.

When translated into national and international criminal and civil legal systems, this justice requires that legal and juridical bodies put into place rules and institutions which seek to actualize these principles in a way which respect objective moral truth and place the human person at the center of decision making. In this regard, the Rome Statute marked an important contribution to respect for the human person by recognizing that human rights are not limited by national borders, political position, religious background or cultural heritage but rather are inherent in every human person.

Mr. President,

The promise of the Rome Statute ultimately lies in its ability to further refine the law of nations (ius gentium) in which universally recognized norms are superior to the laws of States and which requires accountability to the entire global community. However for this promise to bear fruit, States must continue to work to build trust between and amongst one another. Failure to build this trust ultimately will give rise to selective justice or retribution. To build this trust, States must respect the norm that agreements must be kept (pacta sunt servanda) as failure to fulfill commitments leads to greater mistrust between States by escalating blame and friction, ultimately undermining global peace and security.

Further, respect for the principle of subsidiarity allows States and communities to take action with accountability and provides for victims and affected communities participating in the judicial process for the sake of addressing the harm caused by gross violations of human rights, which fosters restoration and broader long-term peace. In this forum, this notion is addressed under the concept of complementarity, which recognizes that local national systems must be the primary source for holding individuals accountable. In so doing, we recognize that subsidiarity helps to restore local communities but also fosters trust between States as national governments retain the responsibility to hold perpetrators accountable.

During this Review Conference, States Parties are working to adopt an amendment which recognizes the Crime of Aggression and delineates jurisdiction by the Court over such crimes. This amendment seeks to institutionalize, in international juridical instruments, a principle which rejects war as a means for resolving disputes and seeks to replace the law of force with the force of law. In learning from the better tradition of peoples and nations engaging in peaceful discussion and creating agreements, this amendment builds upon the tragic lessons learned around the world that recourse to force, or even threat of force, has undermined global and personal security of individuals and nations. To this end, The Holy See has long been an advocate against wars of aggression and rejects the flawed logic of violence and destruction as factors for progress or political advancement.

In discussing this amendment it is imperative that efforts be made to balance the prevention of wars of aggression with the rights of nations to legitimate self-defense. This balance can only be achieved if the outcome of these discussions is an amendment which truly reflects the concerns and thoughts of the entire international community and which promotes the pursuit of justice rather than retribution. Efforts to create jurisdiction mechanisms that are governed by the political vote of majorities would replace military might with political might and would ultimately serve to harm trust between nations and undermine long-term peace and the long-term viability of multi-lateral legal bodies. Thus, these discussions must weigh these urgent concerns and make sure that these discussions are not motivated by a desire to seek greater political or military influence but rather by a genuine desire to promote a justice which protects human rights and fosters greater trust between nations.

Mr. President,

While the efforts during these meetings to adopt and finalize the amendments to the Rome Statute are important, equally as important is the need to take stock of the work that has been accomplished since the adoption of the Rome Statute, especially in promoting peace and justice.

The Holy See has stated consistently that peace not only is possible but that peace is a duty which must be built upon the pillars of truth, justice, love and freedom. Law favors peace and, so, the two are intricately linked. Thus peace and justice are not in contradiction with one another but rather justice is a foundation for peace and just laws provide the means for fostering greater justice. In this context, justice must not be limited merely to the realm of "legal justice" but must also address the need for commutative, distributive and social justice.

For its part, the Holy See continues to call on all individuals within society to be peacemakers and to work towards justice. These efforts focus on the truth that every human person has inherent dignity and worth which must be respected regardless of racial, ethnic, religious, political or social distinction. The Holy See considers that, through teaching peace and justice, educational institutions can play an important role in fostering a social situation which sees our neighbors not as outsiders to be mistrusted and reviled but as fellow brothers and sisters to be respected and loved.

Mr. President,

The Holy See welcomes this conference and it is our hope that it ultimately serves to promote respect for international justice, provides for better recognition of human rights and fosters greater trust between people and States.

Thank you Mr. President.


[a] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1807.

[b] Ibid. 2411.


Vatican Note for UN's World Family Day
"Family Cohesion Constitutes the Vital Means to Preserve and Transmit Values"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the joint message sent by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers and the Pontifical Council for the Family on the occasion of the International Day of Families, which was convoked by the United Nations and observed on Saturday, May 15.

The day had as its theme: "The Impact of Migrations on the Families of the World."

* * *

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes that the family is "the natural and fundamental element of society" (article 16) and Pope Benedict XVI asserted that the family is the "place and resource of the culture of life and factor of integration of values" (Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2007), hence it must be the object of the "greatest protection and assistance possible" (Pact of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, article 10).

The family has an irreplaceable role for the happiness of its members, for peace and social cohesion, for educational development and general well being, for economic growth and social integration. The solidity of family ties, in fact, guarantees stability, protects social balance and promotes development. Family cohesion constitutes the vital means to preserve and transmit values, acts as guarantor of cultural identity and of social continuity, ensures an environment favorable to learning and offers effective remedies for the prevention of crime and delinquency.

Hence, civil society and Christian communities are injected with the problems and difficulties, but also with the values and the resources of which each family is bearer.

We see, however, that migratory movements make deep furrows in the historic present of peoples and cities, of states and continents. This affects individuals, native citizens and immigrant citizens. Above all, it affects families. Hence, in the migratory context the family emerges as a challenge and possibility, not only for the migrant and his loved ones, but also for the groups of the countries of departure and arrival.

In fact, next to traditional masculine migration, the number of women is growing exponentially who leave their country of origin to seek a more fitting life, cultivating the dream of bringing with them their spouse, their children, and perhaps their closest relatives. Also minors and the elderly enter in the maelstrom of migratory currents, taking with them the sad baggage of loss, loneliness and of being uprooted, at times intensified by exploitation and abuse.

Hence, the family unit, disintegrated by the migratory plan, longs to be reconstituted, also for greater success in the process of assimilation in the host societies.

For these reasons, we hope that the competent institutions will elaborate responsible family policies, which facilitate regrouping, which will allow illegal immigrants to come out of situations of anonymity and precariousness through practical means, and that they will guarantee the right of everyone to social and civil participation and co-responsibility, also through recognition of the right of citizenship.

Finally, I encourage the adoption of appropriate measures that facilitate, on one hand, insertion in the social fabric that receives the immigrants and their families and, on the other, occasions of growth -- personal, social and ecclesial -- based on respect of minorities, of the different cultures and religions, in addition the mutual exchange of values.

Education and inculturation can contribute to create a new sensitivity, geared to establishing more friendly relations between individuals and families, in the realms of school, life and work, with priority attention to children, adolescents and young people, in a world of rapid changes.

Solidarity and reciprocity, in respect of legitimate differences, are indispensable conditions to ensure peaceful interaction and a serene future to our civil societies and ecclesial communities.

Cardinal Ennio Antonelli
President of the Pontifical Council for the Family

Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio
President of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers

Vatican City, May 14, 2010


Holy See on Nuclear Nonproliferation
"It Is Possible to Make a Real Difference for Human Security"

NEW YORK, MAY 7, 2010 - Here is the address Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's permanent observer at the United Nations, delivered Thursday at the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

* * *

Mr. President,

Allow me to congratulate you on your election to the presidency of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. My Delegation assures you of its full support in your endeavours towards a successful outcome of the Conference.

At the outset, I would like to read the message that Pope Benedict XVI has sent to this Conference: “The process towards a coordinated and secure nuclear disarmament is strictly connected to the full and rapid fulfillment of the relevant international commitments. Peace, in fact, rests on trust and on respect for promises made, not merely on the equilibrium of forces. In this spirit, I encourage the initiatives that seek progressive disarmament and the creation of zones free of nuclear weapons, with a view to their complete elimination from the planet. I exhort all those participating in the New York meeting to overcome the burdens of history and to weave patiently a political and economic web of peace in order to foster integral human development and the authentic aspirations of peoples”.

Nuclear weapons have remained a central item on the disarmament agenda for decades now. These weapons continue to exist in huge quantities, some of them in a state of operational readiness. They are no longer just for deterrence but have become entrenched in the military doctrines of the major powers. The danger of proliferation has escalated. The threat of nuclear terrorism has become real.

In this context the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) remains a valid and indispensable multilateral instrument binding States Parties in its totality and particularly in its call to negotiations “in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control” (Art. VI).

One of the challenges is the fact that nuclear-weapon States, 40 years after the NPT entered into force, have still to pursue in a clear and effective way these negotiations mandated by Art. VI of the NPT, to comply with the ruling of the International Court of Justice that negotiations leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons must be concluded and to take the steps adopted in the year 2000 for their complete elimination. Nuclear disarmament is one of the pillars of the Treaty which ultimately conditions the other two for a simple fact: as long as nuclear weapons exist they will allow and even encourage proliferation and there will always be a risk that nuclear material produced for the peaceful use of energy will be turned into weapons. The effectiveness of our concerns and endeavours to put an end to nuclear proliferation needs to be supported by a strong moral authority. Moral authority comes first and foremost from respecting and delivering on promises and commitments.

The military doctrines which continue to rely on nuclear weapons as a means of security and defence or even measure of power, de facto slow down nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation processes. The Holy See strongly advocates for transparent, verifiable, global and irreversible nuclear disarmament and for addressing seriously the issues of nuclear strategic arms, the tactical ones and their means of delivery. In this context, the Holy See welcomes the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is of the highest priority. The universal banning of nuclear explosions will inhibit the development of nuclear weapons, and thus will contribute to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and will prevent further damage to the environment. In this direction, it is crucial to halt the production and transfer of fissile material for weapons. The immediate commencement of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) is a matter of responsibility and must not be further delayed. The Holy See encourages also nuclear-weapon States and those which possess such weapons to ratify the respective Protocols to the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones Treaties and strongly supports efforts to establish such a zone in the Middle East. Nuclear-weapon-free zones are the best example of trust, confidence and affirmation that peace and security is possible without possessing nuclear weapons.

The international community needs to seek new approaches to nuclear disarmament. It is a fact that no force on earth will be able to protect civil populations from the explosion of nuclear bombs, which could cause as many as millions of immediate deaths. Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation are indeed essential also from a humanitarian point of view. Every step on the non-proliferation and disarmament agenda must be geared towards ensuring the security and survival of humanity and must build on principles of the pre-eminent and inherent value of human dignity and the centrality of the human person, which constitute the basis of international humanitarian law. Important lessons can be learned from the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Treaty, which both demonstrate that it is possible to make a real difference for human security by breaking old habits.

Mr. President, the world has arrived at an opportune moment to begin addressing in a systematic way the legal, political and technical requisites for a nuclear weapons free world. For this reason, preparatory work should begin as soon as possible on a convention or framework agreement leading to the phased elimination of nuclear weapons.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Holy See on Poverty Reduction
"We Cannot Wait for a Definitive and Permanent Recovery of the Global Economy"

NEW YORK, MARCH 25, 2010 - Here is the address Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in New York, delivered Wednesday before the Fourth High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development under the theme "The Monterrey Consensus and Doha Declaration on Financing for Development: Status of Implementation and Tasks Ahead" of the 64th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

* * *

Mr. President,

The devastating impact of the recent financial crisis on the world's most vulnerable populations has been highlighted in almost all the interventions made so far in this General Assembly because it really is a concern shared by governments and citizens all over the world. Indeed, the dark shadow of this crisis is likely to frustrate efforts made so far to help reduce poverty and only add to the skyrocketing numbers living in extreme poverty.

At the same time, the current economic crisis has also given rise to unprecedented international political cooperation, evident in the three successive high-level G-20 meetings in Washington, London, and Pittsburgh during 2009. These meetings were able to reach agreement on emergency measures to reignite the world economy, including fiscal and monetary stimulus packages that have prevented a global catastrophe. Overall, the G-20 deliberations have received the moral support of most UN members, even recognizing the low ratio of member participation in them.

Nevertheless, the stabilization of some economies, or the recovery of others, does not mean that the crisis is over. Moreover, there is a general perception about the lack of sound political and economic foundations needed to ensure longer-term stability and sustainability of the global economy. Indeed, the whole world economy, where countries are highly interdependent, will never be able to function smoothly if the conditions that generated the crisis persist, especially when fundamental inequalities in income and wealth among individuals and between nations continue.

Against this background, my delegation underscores the view that we cannot wait for a definitive and permanent recovery of the global economy to take action. A significant reason is that the re-activation of the economies of the world's poorest people will surely help guarantee a universal and sustainable recovery. But the most important reason is the moral imperative: not to leave a whole generation, nearly a fifth of the world's population, in extreme poverty.

There is now an urgent need to reform, strengthen and modernize the whole funding system for developing countries as well as UN programs, including the specialized agencies and regional organizations, making them more efficient, transparent, and well coordinated, both internationally and locally. In the same vein, the crisis has highlighted the urgent need to proceed with the reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, whose structures and procedures must reflect the realities of today's world and no longer those of the post World War II period.

As pointed out in the Doha Declaration, of December 2008, a reformed IMF should be able to accomplish fully its original mandate of stabilizing currency fluctuations and ought to be provided with mechanisms for preventing financial crises. The functions of the Financial Stability Forum (FSF) would acquire greater legitimacy if they were developed in close collaboration with the Fund and other relevant UN bodies, such as UNCTAD. The international community, through its appropriate bodies, such as the IMF, the FSF and others, should be able to make proposals to improve banking regulations. It should be able to identify and define the capital requirements for banks, liquidity requirements, transparency measures, and accountability standards for the issuance and trading of securities. Equally important are the regulatory norms for the para-banking activities and control of rating companies. We would do well not to wait for consensus on all these issues but move ahead in areas where there is already broad consensus, such as uniform international accounting standards.

On the other hand, the international community, through the World Bank and relevant multilateral agencies, should continue to give priority to the fight against poverty, particularly in LDCs. In this context, as part of the emergency measures of developed countries to address the crisis, contributions to the World Bank destined to fight extreme poverty should have highest priority. Although the financial crisis made it necessary to increase aid to middle income countries through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the World Bank must continue to give priority to loans under the International Development Association (IDA), which assists low income countries and provides resources for food security.

To this end, we must continue to review the distribution of voting rights in both these financial institutions so that emerging economies and developing countries, including LDCs, are duly represented. Similarly, it may be desirable to introduce, at least for key decisions, ‘double majority' approval, so that decisions are made not only according to quotas but also on the basis of a numerical majority of countries.

Mr. President,

At the end of World War II, the international community was able to adopt a comprehensive system that would ensure not only peace but also avoid a repetition of global economic disruption. The institutions that emerged from the Bretton Woods Conference in July 1944 had to ensure the launching of a process of equitable economic development for all. The current global crisis offers a similar opportunity requiring a comprehensive approach, based on resources, knowledge transfer and on institutions. To achieve this, all nations, without exception, need to commit themselves to a renewed multilateralism.

At the same time, the effectiveness of measures taken to overcome the current crisis should always be assessed by their ability to solve the primary problem. We should not forget that the same world that could find, within a few weeks, trillions of dollars to rescue banks and financial investment institutions, has not yet managed to find 1% of that amount for the needs of the hungry - starting with the $3 billion needed to provide meals to school children who are hungry or the $5 billion needed to support the emergency food fund of the World Food Program.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Holy See to UN on Indigenous Peoples
"Development Must Include ... Social, Cultural and Spiritual Elements"

NEW YORK, APRIL 21, 2010 ( Here is the address delivered Tuesday by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, before the U.N. Economic and Social Council's 9th Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The discussion centered on the theme of the development of indigenous peoples with culture and identity.

* * *

New York, 20 April 2010

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, my delegation would like to commend you, Mr. Chairman, for your conducting of this session and wishes you every success in your endeavours.

This year’s special theme: “Indigenous peoples: development with culture and identity” draws our particular attention in the aftermath of the devastating financial crisis, which has hit hard also the indigenous population. Taking this into account, the Holy See through its multifaceted organizations and grass-roots level structures has extended its programs and projects for the comprehensive advancement of indigenous peoples.

It is heartening to see that after the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, despite the shortfalls and slow pace in certain sectors, promising progress has been achieved on indigenous issues, as laudable attempts are being made to preserve their culture and patrimony.

The shift of development policies in favor of respect for local cultures, including indigenous cultures, is long overdue. By integrating culture into development policies, there undoubtedly will be more effective results. However, this process is not self-evident. It needs some preliminary clarifications. For instance, which comes first: culture or development? Which must be integrated with which? May cultures follow any developmental model and ethic or must development integrate the ethic of different cultures?

The Holy See considers it fundamental to have a holistic vision of development which entails the well-being of the whole person and of the entire community and emphasizes in particular the dimension of cultural identity. In this line, the objective of development is inextricably linked with the alleviation of poverty and the lifting of living standards of each and every person in a sustainable manner which includes cultural, social, spiritual, institutional, juridical, economic and educational dimensions. The traditional indigenous vision of development focuses on human development in its entirety and understands that the earth and environment are sacred and good for our use; these gifts, needed for human existence, should not be abused. Such resources should not be reduced to mere economic assets as they also form an important basis for their social and cultural integrity and identity. A human rights-based approach to development that takes into account collective rights and the ethos of benefit-sharing that affirms their vital connection to their lands and territories needs to be promoted. In addition to the economic dimension, development must include also social, cultural and spiritual elements. Their deep sense of religious consciousness, of family and of community cohesiveness and desire for living in a strong symbiosis with nature must be respected. Any developmental program in an indigenous zone that does not respect these cultural traits can do more harm than good.

Fostering indigenous culture does not mean always going back to the past, but entails going forward maintaining traditionally transmitted values and principles. Indigenous culture is based on time-honoured and collective values, enriched through the promotion of traditional ways of learning and transferring knowledge. Respect for human life and dignity, representative decision-making processes, the practice of justice mechanisms and ceremonies are important. In the face of modernization, industrialization and urbanization, these values must not be overlooked. This necessitates promoting understanding and respect for indigenous culture. Indigenous peoples must be able to choose their language, practice their religion, and actively participate in shaping their culture.

Cultural liberty as a human right of the indigenous peoples and respect for their ethnicity, religion, and language must be ensured. In preserving their cultural heritage, promotion of indigenous languages and intercultural education is critical .In this spirit, the Holy See promotes centers of indigenous languages, oversees compiling of grammar books and commissions hundreds of translations into those languages, often menaced by natural extinction. A wide range of such collections are available for researchers in different Pontifical Universities and institutes of higher education.

The Holy See is committed to the promotion of cultural development, targeting the human and spiritual enrichment of populations. The leadership of the elders of every community is crucial in this regard and calls for their wise reflection and daring foresight. The formation of the younger generations and comprehensive education in such cultural values are very important.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, my delegation would like to express its satisfaction that more and more States are showing a political gesture in adopting the Declaration and hopes that the entire UN membership will eventually adopt it so that the value and dignity of the centuries-old cultural patrimony of the indigenous peoples will be more fully respected, which cannot but contribute to promoting peace among peoples and nations.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Holy See Address at Beijing +15
"Women Continue to Suffer in Many Parts of the World"

NEW YORK, MARCH 8, 2010 - Here is the address Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in New York, affirmed today when he addressed the 54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women regarding a 15-year review of the Beijing conference.

* * *

Economic and Social Council
54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women

On Item 3:
Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and to the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly entitled "Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century"

New York, 8 March 2010
Mr. Chairman,

As this Commission undertakes a fifteen-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, my delegation wishes you and your Bureau a productive session for the good of all women in the world.

From the successive interventions in these days in the general debate, it seems that the assessment is not entirely positive: It includes some light, but also many and disturbing shadows.

The advancements achieved regarding the status of women in the world in the last fifteen years include, among others, improvements in the education of girls, the promotion of women as key to eradicating poverty and fostering development, growth of participation in social life, political reforms aimed at removing forms of discrimination against women and specific laws against domestic violence.

In particular, among the many parallel events, some have stressed the indispensable role played by civil society in all its components, in highlighting the dignity of women, their rights and responsibilities.

This having been said, women continue to suffer in many parts of the world.

Violence in the form of female feticide, infanticide, and abandonment are realities that cannot be brushed aside. Discrimination in health and nutrition occurs throughout the lives of girls and malnutrition affects girls much more than boys, stunting future physical and mental growth. Girls continue to account for the majority of children out of school and girls and women 15 years of age and over account for two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population.

It is a sad fact that three quarters of those infected by HIV/AIDS are girls and women between the ages of 15 and 24; the proportion of women infected with HIV is increasing in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America; and in sub-Saharan Africa, 60% of all adults and three out of four young people living with the virus are female.

Of those who are trafficked across international borders each year, minors account for up to 50% and approximately 70% are women and girls with the majority of transnational victims being trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation. Around the world girls and women are victims of physical, sexual and psychological violence, including rape as a weapon of war in various parts of the world, not to mention economic abuse.

The reasons for this precarious situation are various. The analyses in these days tend to be found mostly, and not without good reason, in cultural and social dynamics as well as delays and slowness of policy. Yet we would do well to look also to principles, priorities and action policies in force in international organizations, namely, that system of motivations, values, guidelines and methodologies that guide the UN's work on women's issues.

Achieving equality between women and men in education, employment, legal protection and social and political rights is considered in the context of gender equality. Yet the evidence shows that the handling of this concept, as hinted at in the Cairo and Beijing Conferences, and subsequently developed in various international circles, is proving increasingly ideologically driven, and actually delays the true advancement of women. Moreover, in recent official documents there are interpretations of gender that dissolve every specificity and complementarity between men and women. These theories will not change the nature of things but certainly are already blurring and hindering any serious and timely advancement on the recognition of the inherent dignity and rights of women.

Almost no outcome document of international Conferences and Committees, or Resolution fails to attempt to link the achievement of personal, social, economic and political rights to a notion of sexual and reproductive health and rights which is violent to unborn human life and is detrimental to the integral needs of women and men within society. While at the same time only seldom are women’s political, economic and social rights mentioned as an inescapable clause and commitment.

This is particularly distressing given the widespread maternal mortality occurring in regions where health systems are inadequate. A solution respectful of the dignity of women does not allow us to bypass the right to motherhood, but commits us to promoting motherhood by investing in and improving local health systems and providing essential obstetrical services.

Mr. Chairman,

Fifteen years ago the Beijing Platform for Action proclaimed that women’s human rights are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights. This is key not only to understanding the inherent dignity of women and girls but also to making this a concrete reality around the world.

The Holy See reaffirms its commitments for improving the condition of women. Its call to Catholic institutions, on the occasion of the Beijing Conference, for a concerted and prioritized strategy directed to girls and young women, especially the poorest, has yielded over the past years many significant results, and remains a strong commitment to implementing and promoting this task for the future.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Holy See on Social Integration
"Only Within the Work Force Can the Solution for Poverty Be Found"

NEW YORK, FEB. 5, 2010 - Here is the statement regarding social integration that Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, delivered Thursday at the 48th session of the Commission for Social Development of the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

* * *

Mr. Chairman,

On behalf of my Delegation, I wish to express best wishes to you and the Bureau for a productive session on this year's priority theme "Promoting social integration" and look forward to working with the membership and other stakeholders to address the daunting challenges of social integration.

For more than twenty years now the human community has been living and interacting within the context of the so-called globalization of society. And yet, "as society becomes ever more globalized, it makes us neighbours but does not make us brothers."

All those responsible for promoting social integration and cohesion know all too well that this is not attainable by a simple, though indispensable, mix of good laws and social measures and incentives. There is always a need to push further ahead and take into consideration the integral good of the human person in his various dimensions, including the spiritual.

In a world beset with the soaring woes of the economic and financial crisis, the deliberations over promoting social integration must take into account its link with poverty eradication and full employment, including decent work for all.

While the financial system seems to be regaining stability and increasing production in some sectors offers signs of economic recovery, still in many places the level of unemployment continues to worsen.

In this context, in order to promote economic and social growth along with employment, it seems that the patterns of consumption should be focused upon relational goods and services which promote greater connection between people. By investing in relational goods, such as medical care, education, culture, art, sport -- all things which develop a person and require unique human interaction rather than machine production -- the State, through its public intervention, would be addressing development at its root, while also promoting employment and long-term development.

Social development and integration will not come about solely from technological solutions, since they concern primarily human relations.

Focusing on human relations necessarily calls for an openness to life which is a positive contribution to social and economic development. In this light, too often population growth is viewed as the cause of poverty whereas it is a means of overcoming it, for only within the work force can the solution for poverty be found. It is therefore imperative that countries focus their efforts on finding the ways and means for ensuring that people receive the necessary skills, training and education so that human ingenuity can be harnessed in a way which promotes development and human rights. Similarly, where economic growth rates have declined, the answers lie not in trying to close society to others and pushing for population decline but rather in creating a society which is open to and encourages life. Promoting life and the family and finding ways to integrate the contribution of all people will allow societies to realize their full potential and achieve development.

For this reason, the family occupies a central place. The family is the first context in which children learn certain skills, attitudes and virtues which prepare them for the labor force and thus allow them to contribute to economic growth and social development. Education and formation is a long-term investment. It requires that policies promoting the family be based not only on redistribution but above all on justice and efficiency and assume responsibility for the economic and fiscal needs of families.

Mr. Chairman, as we promote social integration in our world today we cannot overlook the increasing concern that needs to be given to migration, and in particular, irregular migration.

Intolerance and mutual friction between citizens and newcomers is always more noted in countries of intense immigration. The phenomenon calls for strong attention to the two tracks of acceptance of migrants and respect for the law, on which the solutions to the problem can be found. Also in this field, integration and social cohesion are the parameters that allow us to find adequate solutions to complex issues connected with immigration.

Integration requires a long time and is usually realized in subsequent generations. It is built on the premise of a proactive vision of national citizenship, of the mechanisms of interaction that involves full respect of the fundamental rights of all -- of citizens as well as of newcomers -- and of a culture of social justice.

In social integration programs, including the efforts to bridge the gap in education, health care and care for environment, important roles are played by civil society and faith based organizations since they help to ensure the involvement of local communities and promote cooperation and participation of all peoples.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Archbishop Dominique Mamberti's Address to the OSCE
"In Order for Governance to be "Good", It Must Take into Account the Common Good"

DUBLIN, DEC. 7, 2012 - Here is the text of the address given by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States of the Vatican State Secretariat, to the Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

* * *

1. Introduction. The delegation of the Holy See wishes to thank His Excellency Mr. Eamon Gilmore, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, for the commitment with which Ireland has exercised the Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) during this past year. The Holy See is particularly grateful for the warm hospitality of the organizers of this Nineteenth OSCE Ministerial Council in Dublin. Ireland’s chairmanship has been marked by the desire to reinforce a dialogue of culture and peace within the OSCE region, and for this we are most appreciative.

2. The Holy See welcomes Mongolia as the fifty-seventh OSCE participating State and looks forward to working with that ancient people and culture to advance the vision of a free, democratic, common and indivisible security community that stretches "from Vancouver to Vladivostok" and to contribute to the implementation of our consensual commitments in the three dimensions of our Organization (cf. Astana Commemorative Declaration, nos. 1 and 7).

3. Politico-military dimension. As far as the politico-military dimension of the OSCE is concerned, the Holy See has taken note with interest of the report of the Chairman of the Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC) on the activities carried out during 2012, complemented by progress reports on specific aspects of that activity. The results obtained in the area of development of projects dedicated to strengthening the security of excessive stockpiles of small arms and light weapons, as well as conventional munitions, is indeed praiseworthy.

The Holy See has also noted with satisfaction the initiatives that have re-focused attention on the "Code of Conduct on politico-military aspects of Security", in particular, those efforts intended to ensure a greater diffusion of this document, even outside the OSCE area. The "Code of Conduct" remains a precious instrument in ensuring transparency among participating States in their reciprocal relations, as well as in the respect for human rights of the members of the armed forces.

Equally valid are the initiatives concerning the contribution of the Forum to the implementation of the UNSCR No. 1540 on Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The OSCE no doubt has something original and valuable to offer to the international community, but should never lose sight of the fact that its capabilities in this field are limited.

Unfortunately, progress has been slow on implementing the mandate of the Vilnius Ministerial Council on modernizing the "Vienna Document on Confidence and Security Building Measures". The recent adoption of a Decision on the notification of certain military activities is a step in the right direction.

In terms of the non-military aspects of security dealt with by the Security Committee, the Holy See values the efforts of the OSCE in strengthening co-ordination and coherence to address transnational threats, including the fight against terrorism, in combating the threat of illegal drugs and chemical precursors, in promoting a strategic framework for police-related activities and in furthering measures in the area of cyber security. These have inherent value as a contribution to the protection of the rights of human beings.

4. Economic and environmental dimension. This year the growing importance and relevance that participating States attach to the second or economic and environmental dimension has been revealed through substantive discussions, inter alia, on good governance and on the draft Declaration we have before us. For the Holy See, in order for governance to be "good", it must take into account the common good, namely,the good of all people and of the whole person. Good governance should promote a "culture of life" for all people. Good government is that government in which political authorities do not forget or underestimate the moral dimensionof political representation. Good governance has to follow natural law that is written in the heart of every human being. Pope Benedict XVI expressed this view very clearly during his recent visit to Lebanon: "In God’s plan, each person is unique and irreplaceable. A person comes into this world in a family, which is the first locus of humanization, and above all the first school of peace. To build peace, we need to look to the family, supporting it and facilitating its task, and in this way promoting an overall culture of life. The effectiveness of our commitment to peace depends on our understanding of human life. If we want peace, let us defend life! This approach leads us to reject not only war and terrorism, but every assault on innocent human life, on men and women as creatures willed by God. Wherever the truth of human nature is ignored or denied, it becomes impossible to respect that grammar which is the natural law inscribed in the human heart."1

Corruption is a serious danger for good governance as it is a phenomenon that is not limited by politics or geography; the costs are borne by the citizens. Corruption is a cause of great concern today, in that it is also connected to drug-trafficking, to money-laundering, to the illegal trade of arms, to trafficking in human persons, and to other forms of criminality.

If corruption causes serious harm from a material point of view and places a costly burden on economic growth, still more harmful are its effects on immaterial goods, closely connected to the qualitative and human dimension of life in society. The fight against corruption requires a greater conviction, by means of the consensus given to moral evidence, and a greater awareness that this fight will provide important social advantages.

Ultimately, good governance is not only a technical issue, but more fundamentally a question of morality. Social and economic development must be measured and implemented with the human person at the center of all decisions. Good governance is promoted and corruption is curtailed when there is respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights, including the freedom of religion.

5. Human dimension. The OSCE has carved out for itself over the years impressive consensual commitments in favor of the defense of fundamental freedoms and human rights, the right to integral human development, and support for international law and global institutions. It is the dignity of the human person that motivates the desire of our Organization to work for the effective realization of all human rights.

The Holy See strongly supports freedom of the media, freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas. Freedom to seek and know the truth is a fundamental human right and freedom of expression is a cornerstone of democracy. At the same time, the Holy See also believes that ethical principles and norms relevant in other fields also apply to social communication. The right to freedom of expression carries with it corresponding responsibilities. Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote: "An authentically ethical approach to using the powerful communications media must be situated within the context of a mature exercise of freedom and responsibility, founded upon the supreme criteria of truth and justice."2

The situation with regard to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance has regrettably not improved; despite the lessons of history, these deplorable phenomena are still being reported today, at a time when migration and the general movement of peoples have continued to increase and the intermingling of cultures and multi-ethnicity have become a social fact. Strengthening OSCE efforts to combat racism and xenophobia will contribute to putting an end to these phenomena, thereby marking a fundamental step toward the affirmation of the universal value of human dignity and rights, in a horizon of respect and justice for persons and nations.

Among the fundamental freedoms, the right to freedom of religion figures prominently for the Holy See. The OSCE has always emphasized the positive contributions of religious communities to society. In this sense, the activity of the OSCE has ensured that public debate gives space to viewpoints inspired by a religious vision in all its dimensions, including ritual, worship, education, dissemination of information and the freedom to profess and choose one’s religion. "Religious freedom should be understood, then, not merely as immunity from coercion, but even more fundamentally as an ability to order one’s own choices in accordance with truth."3

In fact, the rights associated with religion are all the more in need of protection if they are considered to clash with a prevailing secular ideology or with majority religious positions of an exclusive nature. The full guarantee of religious freedom cannot be limited only to the free exercise of worship, but has to give due consideration to the public dimension of religion, and hence to the possibility of believers playing their part in building the social order. It is inconceivable that believers should have to suppress a part of themselves, namely their faith, in order to be active citizens. "The contribution of religious communities to society", the Holy Father wrote in his Message for the World Peace Day 2011, "is undeniable. Numerous charitable and cultural institutions testify to the constructive role played by believers in the life of society. More important still is religion’s ethical contribution in the political sphere. Religion should not be marginalized or prohibited, but seen as making an effective contribution to the promotion of the common good. In this context mention should be made of the religious dimension of culture, built up over centuries thanks to the social and especially ethical contributions of religion. This dimension is in no way discriminatory towards those who do not share its beliefs, but instead reinforces social cohesion, integration and solidarity."4

With the increase of religious intolerance throughout the world, it is well documented that Christians are among those most discriminated against, even within the OSCE region. In spite of the commitments undertaken by Participating States in the area of religious freedom, in some countries intolerant and even discriminatory laws, decisions and behavior, either by action or omission, which deny this freedom, still exist against the Catholic Church and other Christian communities. In particular, there are illegitimate interferences in the area of their organizational autonomy, preventing them from acting consistently with their own moral convictions. At times undue pressure is brought to bear upon people working in public administration in contrast with their freedom to behave in accordance with the dictates of their own conscience. At times educational programmes are deficient in duly respecting the identity and principles of Christians and of members of other religions, and there are clear signs of resistance against the recognition of religion’s public role. Nor are the media and public discourse always free from attitudes of intolerance and, sometimes, of actual denigration of Christians and members of other religions. Christians are frequently targets of prejudice and threats of violence, perhaps on account of their active participation in public conversations to form societies more respectful of human life and dignity. In light of the above, the OSCE should devote specific attention and develop effective proposals to fight intolerance and discrimination against Christians.

6. Helsinki + 40. The Holy See is convinced of the validity of the ideal embodied in the Helsinki Final Act nearly forty years ago. As the discussions within the framework of Helsinki + 40 continue over the next few years, it is my wish that the Helsinki Final Act, its vision and its hallmark of consensus, will help to ensure peace and security not only for all the years to come, but also geographically "from Vancouver to Vladivostok."

7. Conclusion. In concluding, I would like to wish the incoming Ukrainian Chairmanship all the best as we work together to reach the goals identified in the Astana Commemorative Declaration – that common vision and those common values agreed upon and shared by all participating States of the OSCE.


1 Pope Benedict XVI: Address at the Meeting with Members of the Government, Institutions of the Republic, the Diplomatic Corps, Religious Leaders and Representatives of the World of Culture, Baabda Presidential Palace, 15 September 2012.

2 Pope John Paul II: Apostolic Letter The Rapid Development, 24 January 2005, n. 3.

3 Pope Benedict XVI: Message for the Celebration of the World Peace Day 2011, n. 3.

4 Ibid., n. 6.


Final Statement of Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace's Seminar on the Global Common Good
"Without a recovery of the virtue of gratuitousness and the willingness to make moral judgments, allowing our action to be guided by them, no structural reform can be sure to bring about positive outcomes."

VATICAN CITY, July 22, 2014  - Below is the final statement of Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace Seminar on the Global Common Good. 


Seminar on the Global Common Good:

The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is grateful to the undersigned experts and academics who gathered at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on July 11-12 to discuss the urgent questions of a more inclusive economy and governance for the common good. Pope Paul VI challenged his fellow Church-leaders to enter into dialogue with other Christian brethren and all people of goodwill, to discern the options and commitments which are called for in order to bring about the social, political and economic changes seen in many cases to be urgently needed (Octogesima Adveniens § 4). This is exactly what we undertook to do throughout the weekends sessions.

More specifically, according to Pope Francis, we cannot understand the Good News of Jesus Christ the gospel of dignity and fraternity, of justice and peace without being aware of real poverty, i.e., by turning our backs on the scandal of exclusion or blindly hoping that it will take care of itself (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, § 54). Quite on the contrary, it will be by putting the human being back into the heart of economics and politics, by welcoming the participation of the poor, that poverty can be overcome and the planet safeguarded.

Final Statement:

As a fruit of the discussions, we participants, joined by others who wish to add their names, are pleased to put forward the following final statement of concern and engagement:

Beyond the Globalization of Indifference: Towards a More Inclusive Economy

In the face of the many unresolved issues brought to the fore by the financial crisis and our ongoing inability to bring an end to endemic poverty and exclusion, there is substantial agreement between us that, as a human community, we must recover our moral compass and re-examine the assumptions of our economic theory to be more realistic and based on a more complete view of the human being and of the world.

People welcome the job creation, healthcare improvements and the many other benefits that todays economy has provided. Globalisation in a positive sense has the potential to bring people together. Nevertheless, many people experience a severe loss of value and morals in political and economic life, and furthermore, the means and instruments of our economy, such as money, are accorded more importance than the proper end or goal of that same economy,  that is, sustaining a good life for the human community. Similarly, human beings are 
frequently treated as means to an economic end, and not as the reason why economic activity take place at all. The experience of social businesses demonstrates that people can be active in creating their own work and enterprises and so make a secure future for themselves. We must put people and their wellbeing at the centre of our economic and political life.

An economic system is like a natural environment. It requires diversity to strengthen its resilience. We therefore acknowledge the contribution of various actors to the economy, and in particular women and rural workers, and support the ongoing development of the many different organizational forms (for profit corporations, cooperatives, productive not for profit entities, ethical or sustainable banks and businesses, social business, and so on). They contribute to the production of social capital, as well as economic value, as an expression of economic democracy and for the fulfilment of the human being. Inadequate regulation must not be allowed to harm this biodiversity.

On the basis of this shared vision of the human person and the central elements on which our economic thought must be founded, we share a consensus that welcomes existing reforms of  the global economy, and the financial system in particular, but also that this must go much further. It is equally important to emphasize that no structural reform leading to greater 
inclusion can be ultimately successful unless there is a conversion of the human heart. 

Without a recovery of the virtue of gratuitousness and the willingness to make moral judgments, allowing our action to be guided by them, no structural reform can be sure to bring about positive outcomes.

With these premises in view, we strongly endorse and we commit ourselves to supporting the following reforms aimed at achieving a more inclusive economy:

1. The adoption of ambitious and inclusive Sustainable Development Goals centred on human dignity and a new global climate agreement in 2015 which, apart from their importance in themselves, are also critical opportunities for making a breakthrough to more effective global institutions. By doing so, we have a chance to eradicate poverty, support worker protection, environmental standards, tax revenues, and financial regulation, and confront inequality.

2. The multilateral work led by the OECD/G20 on the Automatic Exchange of Tax 
Information and Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), and in confronting the too big toail problem in the international banking system. At the same time, we call on the G20 to be more ambitious and explicit about the ethical framework that informs its deliberations, helping to enhance its legitimacy. 

3. The fostering of financial education, financial inclusion and financial consumer 
protection, equipping the most vulnerable groups so that they may access finance 
more easily, efficiently use financial services, make informed financial choices and be protected against the effects of unfair practices. We support the creation of banks for the poor.

4. The fight against persistent structural unemployment, growing youth unemployment and the lack of security and protection for informal and rural workers are worldwide scourges. We urge policy-makers to take strong actions in order to promote access to decent and quality jobs to all segments of the societies, to promote access to education for skills, both of which are essential to human life and dignity.

5. The various initiatives of the UN and civil society to combat, in particular, child labour, discrimination against women, human trafficking, international crime, corruption and money laundering.

Finally, we believe, based on the transformations which are already taking place under our very eyes, that the active participation of citizens in their economic actions and of corporations along the lines of social and environmental responsibility is crucial to tilt the balance towards the good, and that rules should be created to stimulate the development of civic and corporate virtues.

In conclusion, the Holy Father exhorted us to resist a throw-away or discarding culture: If the human person is not at the centre, then something else gets put there, which the human being then has to serve.

Vatican City, 12 July 2014

1. Card. Peter K.A. Turkson, President

2. Bp. Mario Toso, Secretary

3. Flaminia Giovanelli, Under-Secretary

4. Rev. Prf. Helen Alford

5. Mr. Bertrand BADRÉ 

6. Rev. Fr. Paulo C. BARAJAS GARCIA 

7. Prof. Leonardo BECCHETTI 

8. Prof. Simona BERETTA 

9. Ms. Laura BERRY 


11. Prof. Luigino BRUNI 

12. Ms. Winnie BYANYIMA 

13. Prof. Michel CAMDESSUS 

14. Dr. Mark J. CARNEY 

15. Ms. Celine CHARVERIAT 

16. Mr. Paolo CONVERSI 

17. Mr. Renato CURSI 

18. Mr. Enzo CURSIO 

19. Rev. Dr. Michael CZERNY 

20. Prof. Partha DASGUPTA SARATHI 

21. Ms. Marike DE PEÑA 

22. Prof. Séverine DENEULIN 

23. Ms. Amira ELMISSIRY 

24. Hon. Amb. Francesco Paolo FULCI 

25. Mr. Juan GRABOIS 

26. Dame Pauline GREEN 

27. Lord Brian GRIFFITHS 

28. Mr. José Ángel GURRÍA

29. Prof. André HABISCH 

30. Dr. Heinz HÖDL 

31. Mr. Steve HOWARD 

32. Hon. Amb. Monica JIMENEZ DE LA JARA 

33. Dr. Donald KABERUKA 

34. Ms. Lamia KAMAL-CHAOUI 


36. Dr. Mukhisa KITUYI 

37. Dr. Kalpana KOCHHAR 

38. Prof. Huguette LABELLE 

39. Mr. Pascal LAMY 

40. Mr. José Ignacio MARISCAL TORROELLA 

41. Rev. Fr. Pier

42. Hon. Amb. John McCARTHY 

43. Mr. Curtis McKENZIE 

44. Prof. Branko MILANOVIĆ 

45. Ms. Amina MOHAMMED 

46. Mr. Moussa Djibril MOUSSA 

47. Rev. Msgr. Bernard MUNONO 

48. Rev. Msgr. Osvaldo NEVES DE ALMEIDA 

49. Ms. Chisom OKECHUKWU 

50. Ms. Ngozi OKONJO-IWEALA 

51. Rev. Msgr. Paul PHAN VAN HIEN 

52. Dr. Philipp ROESLER 

53. Mr. Michel ROY 

54. Dr. Onno RUDING 

55. Prof. Jeffrey SACHS 

56. Bp. Marcelo SÁNCHEZ SORONDO 

57. Mr. Kartikey SHIVA

58. Dr. Vandana SHIVA 

59. Mr. José Maria SIMONE 

60. Mrs. Livia STOPPA 

61. Dr. Jomo SUNDARAM 

62. Mr. Raymond TORRES

63. Mr. Tebaldo VINCIGUERRA 

64. Ms. Tamara VROOMAN 

65. Prof. Mohammad YUNUS 

66. Prof. Stefano ZAMAGNI 

67. Rev. Dr. Augusto ZAMPINI