By Robin Gomes
The Holy See has reiterated its support for the efforts and contribution of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to “nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament”, as well as to the “safe, secure, and peaceful, development and operation of nuclear technologies”.
“The broader goals of nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament, and the peaceful uses of nuclear technologies, each depend upon these crucial IAEA strategies,” said the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.
He was addressing the IAEA’s 63rd General Conference that kicked off on Monday at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
An autonomous international organization, established in 1957, the IAEA seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.
Nuclear technology and integral development
Archbishop Gallagher said that the various nuclear science and technology services offered by the IAEA can help in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Their applications, he said, can promote integral development, thus enhancing our stewardship of God’s creation.
Archbishop Gallagher noted that the organization’s “technical cooperation projects in the fields of human health, water and environment, climate change, food security and smart agriculture have contributed significantly to the alleviation of poverty and the ability of countries to meet their development goals in a sustainable way”.
In this regard, the Holy See’s official cited Pope Francis, saying the “the scientific community, which through interdisciplinary dialogue is able to demonstrate our planet’s crisis, is also called to offer a leadership that provides general and specific solutions to ensure the “protection of ecosystems, before the new forms of power deriving from the techno-economic model causes irreversible harm not only to the environment, but also to our societies, to democracy, to justice and freedom”.
Centrality of the human person
The archbishop pointed out that any effort to bring about social advancement and promote the common good must be based on a desire to ensure the integral development of every man and woman. “The human person is the central subject of development,” he said citing the UN Declaration on the Right to Development.
He cited Pope Benedict XVI who expressed the Holy See’s support for the use of peaceful and safe nuclear technology for authentic development, and underscored the importance of continuing dialogue and cooperation between science and of faith in “building a culture of respect for man, for human dignity and freedom, for the future of our human family, and for the long-term sustainable development of our planet”.
In this regard, Pope Francis lamented that our immense technological and scientific advances and development have not always been “accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience”.
Archbishop Gallagher acknowledged IAEA’s contribution to creating a world free of nuclear weapons, through various agreements and protocols.
While expressing support for IAEA’s actions with regard to Iran and North Korea, the Holy See particularly expressed its gratitude for the agency’s efforts in developing strategies for the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT).