Welcoming a guest he invited to the United Nations a year ago, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed to Pope Benedict XVI today the fundamental goals that unite the world Organization and the Roman Catholic Church.
“Your Holiness, welcome to our common home,” Mr. Ban told the smiling Pontiff as he introduced him to the 192-member Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York.
“In so many ways, our mission unites us with yours. You have spoken of the terrible challenge of poverty afflicting so much of the world’s population, and how we cannot afford indifference and self-centred isolation. You have encouraged the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and called for progressive and agreed-upon nuclear disarmament.
“You have spelled out that those with greater power may not use it to violate the rights of others, and stated that peace is based on respect for the rights of all. You have spoken of water resources and climate change as matters of grave importance for the entire human family.
“You have called for an open and sincere dialogue, both within your Church and between religions and cultures, in search of the good of humankind. Finally, you have called for trust in, and commitment to, the United Nations.”
Mr. Ban recalled that the Pope had underscored the UN ability to foster genuine dialogue and develop multilateral strategies to meet the manifold challenges of a complex and rapidly changing world, and he stressed the faith that motivates UN personnel.
“Whether we worship one God, many or none – we in the United Nations have to sustain and strengthen our faith every day. As demands on our Organization multiply, we need more and more of this precious commodity,” he said.
“I am profoundly grateful to his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for bestowing some of his faith on us – and for placing his trust in us. He possesses both of these in abundance. May we be strengthened by his visit today.”
General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim told the Pope his visit was a very powerful recognition of the validity and importance of international institutions, particularly of the UN.
“In a world full of controversies which can escalate into conflicts, violence and atrocities, the role of international institutions is without alternative. Effective multilateralism remains our goal, so as to achieve peace and stability on Earth,” he said.
“Let me express my high appreciation for the valuable contribution of the Holy See to the work of the General Assembly and in particular for your important role in promoting social justice, providing education and alleviating poverty and hunger around the world.”
Mr. Kerim held a brief meeting with Pope following his address, in which the two underscored the need for multilateralism as a guiding principle in international relations and agreed that international institutions and especially the UN should be at the centre of multilateral approaches as they play an important and relevant role in today’s world.
“However, they both stressed that international bodies, including the United Nations and, within that the Security Council, have to change and readjust to the realities of the world to be able to adapt to ongoing changes and address current global challenges,” a statement issued by Mr. Kerim’s spokesman said.