Shared values for our common future our
· Pope Francis' visit to the UN ·
The visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to the United Nations comes at a moment of challenge and hope. As the world struggles to cope with conflict, poverty and climate change, Pope Francis has been a leading voice for urgent action to protect people and our planet.
I am deeply privileged to have had the opportunity to meet several times with His Holiness, who impressed me as a man of great humility and humanity. When we met last year at the Vatican in May, the Pope urged senior United Nations officials to “work together in promoting 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.”
International cooperation on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable people is fundamental to the mission of the United Nations as enshrined in our Charter, which entered into force 70 years ago next month.
As the United Nations works with partners to address the many emergencies in our world, we are also looking to build long-term stability. That is why we are so honoured that His Holiness will visit on the day that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will be adopted.
Pope Francis has called on people everywhere to work towards realizing the new sustainable development goals “with generosity and courage”. As I discussed with the Pope, this will require challenging all forms of injustice.
Following the adoption of
the sustainable development goals, attention will shift to the upcoming climate
change conference in December in Paris, where every government in the world
will gather seeking to adopt a new, universal and meaningful climate agreement.
I fully concur with Pope Francis in his recent encyclical that climate change is a moral issue, in addition to its other dimensions, and one of the principal challenges facing humanity.
His Holiness rightly cited the solid scientific consensus showing significant warming of the climate system, with most global warming in recent decades mainly a result of human activity.
Pope Francis and I wholeheartedly agree on the urgency for action, and the critical need to support the poorest and most vulnerable members of our human family from a crisis they did least to cause, but suffer from the most. Other faith groups have echoed this view, including most recently a gathering of eminent Islamic scholars and religious leaders.
Pope Francis’ message extends far beyond the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. On the first page of his recent encyclical, the Pope states that “faced as we are with global environmental deterioration, I wish to address every person living on this planet”.
The Catholic Church and the United Nations have a number of shared values and goals, not least ending poverty, promoting social inclusion, and protecting the environment.
As we reflect on the Organization’s many achievements, we are all too aware of the persisting grave threats in our world.
The conflict in Syria and the wider impact of violent extremists in the region constitute a colossal humanitarian tragedy that demands international action. As the plight of refugees and others searching for a better life has come to the fore, especially with more arrivals in Europe, the Pope has been a leading advocate of a humane response. I am deeply grateful for his repeated calls for compassion.
This month, I am convening a special meeting on the refugee crisis to promote a systematic approach encompassing not only countries of destination but also countries of transit and, most important, countries of origin. We must tackle the root causes that drive so many to flee, including vicious conflict, governance failures, harsh repression and grave violations of human rights, including religious persecution. It is also essential to confront the ruthlessness of people smugglers and traffickers and stop their dangerous crimes.
Pope Francis has demonstrated the value of religious leaders engaging on these pressing global issues. I count on him and other faith leaders to counteract the prevailing forces of division and hate with dialogue and understanding. Together, we can realize our vision of a peaceful world where all people live in safety and dignity.
St. Peter’s Square
Feb. 20, 2019
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