The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s message to unesco ’s Director General, Ms. Audrey Azoulay, on the occasion of the UN agency’s 75th anniversary. It was read out loud on Friday, 12 November, by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
To Ms. Audrey Azoulay
It is with joy that I join in the celebration of the 75th anniversary of unesco . It is not only an opportunity to commemorate the entry into force of the Constitution, but also and above all, to reflect on the fundamental project, “to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among the nations through education, science and culture” (Art. 1, unesco Constitution).
It was natural for the Catholic Church to join this great project, because of the “organic and constitutive link that exists between religion in general and Christianity in particular, on the one hand, and culture on the other” (Saint John Paul ii , Address to unesco , No. 9, 2 June 1980). I hope that this collaboration will make it possible to develop, not only the rapprochement of cultures, but also a true “culture of rapprochement”. Building bridges between people through education and culture can only be achieved by taking into account the human person in his or her entirety. The Catholic Church bears witness to the truth she has received about humanity, its origin, its nature and its destiny: she affirms that each person is not defined primarily by what they possess, but by what they are, by the dignity God confers on them, by their capacity to exceed themselves and grow in humanity. Rejoicing in the work already done, I hope that this venerable Institution will continue to promote and support an education and a culture that take into account the integral development of every person, also in their fundamental spiritual dimension. With this hope, I impart my Blessing to each one of you, to your families and to your co-workers.
From the Vatican, 11 November 2021