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Holy See and United Nations join forces for peace and for the common good

· Pope Francis receives UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ·

On Tuesday morning, 9 April 2013, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon. The UN Secretary-General later met with His Eminence, the Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, sdb, accompanied by Mons. Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States. The meeting, which follows in the tradition of audiences granted by Popes to the  various Secretaries-General of the United Nations who have held that position over the years, seeks to express the appreciation that the Holy See has for that Organization’s central role in the preservation of peace in the world, in the promotion of the common good of humanity, and in the defense of fundamental human rights.

During the course of the cordial conversations, issues of mutual interest were discussed, in particular: situations of conflict and serious humanitarian emergency, especially in Syria and other places such as the Korean peninsula and the African continent where peace and stability are threatened. The problem of human trafficking was noted, in particular that of women, refugees, and migrants. The UN Secretary-General, who recently began his second term in this role, outlined his project for his second five-year mandate, which focuses, among other things, on conflict prevention, international solidarity, and equitable and sustainable economic development.

Pope Francis also recalled the Catholic Church’s contribution, beginning with her identity and through the means proper to her, in support of the entirety of human dignity and in promoting a culture of encounter that helps to realize the UN’s highest institutional goals.

At the Audience, as Fr Federico Lombardi, Director of the Press Office of the Holy See said, the Secretary-General invited the Pope to speak at the UN General Assembly in New York.

On his arrival, Ban Ki-moon was saluted in the San Damaso Courtyard at the Vatican by a picket of halberdiers of the Swiss Guard. He was then accompanied by Archbishop Georg Gänswein,  Prefect of the Papal Household, to the second loggia where Pope Francis met him in the Small Throne Room. “I come on behalf of the United Nations and I congratulate you on the beginning of your mandate”, the Secretary-General said in English. An  entourage of 12 people came with him, including the Director of the UN Programme for  Disarmament. Mr Ban Ki-moon added that he considered it “a great honour” to be able to meet the Pope, whom he described as “a spiritual leader of the world”.

In the Private Library, Ban Ki-moon then stressed that “the Holy See and the United Nations Organization share ideas and goals”. Pope Bergoglio answered that he too was pleased with the visit. A private conversation followed which lasted for about 20 minutes, in the presence of an official of the Secretariat of State. It ended with the traditional exchange of gifts. The Secretary-General gave the Pope a book with a blue cover and the emblem of the UN in gold and  which contained the “Charter of the United Nations” in six languages (English, French, Russian, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic). The Holy Father reciprocated by offering him  a mosaic picture of Rome, and he himself distributed rosary beads as a gift to his guests.

The Secretary-General then met several journalists. Vatican Radio reported that he said the Pope’s choice of name after St Francis of Assisi “is a powerful image.... The Pope speaks loudly of his commitment to the poor.... it was an uplifting and hopeful meeting”, because, the Radio concluded, “Pope Francis is a man of peace and purpose”.

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