By Robin Gomes
The Holy See has expressed its support for the United Nations, urging it to continue responding to the “undiminished hopes of the peoples of the world”. Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin made the exhortation in a statement during a virtual high-level meeting on Monday to commemorate 75 years of the United Nations this year.
The UN was officially established on 24 October 1945, when the UN Charter was ratified by a majority of its signatories, including the five permanent members of the Security Council. United Nations Day is celebrated on 24 October each year.
Since 1964 the Holy See has the status of a Permanent Observer State at the UN and has a Permanent Observer Mission at the UN headquarters in New York.
The theme of Monday’s meeting that featured many world leaders was, “The future we want, the United Nations we need”.
Source of hope and peace
Invoking the founding ideals of the UN, Cardinal Parolin, in a video linkup, noted that for the past 75 years, the peoples of the world have turned to it as a source of hope for world peace and harmony among States. They look up to it for an end to conflict and strife, greater respect for the dignity of the human person, the alleviation of suffering and poverty, and the advancement of justice.
The Vatican’s top official, after the Pope, pointed out that the Holy See has supported and taken an active role within the UN. Successive Popes have addressed the General Assembly, “urging this noble Institution to be a ‘moral centre’ where every country is at home”. “It is where the family of nations convenes and where the international community - in a spirit of human fraternity and solidarity - advances together with multilateral solutions to global challenges.”
The cardinal said the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that we cannot go on thinking only of ourselves or fostering divisions. We need to work together to “overcome the world’s worst plagues, mindful that the burden carried by some necessarily affects humanity and the whole family of Nations”.
Accomplishments of 75 years
Commending the world body’s accomplishments over the past 75 years, Cardinal Parolin said it has protected and served international law, promoted a world based on the rule of law and justice rather than on weapons and might. It has fed the starving, built homes for the homeless, committed itself to the protection of our common home, and has advanced a world of integral human development.
The Vatican’s top diplomat said, “The UN has strived to champion universal human rights, which also include the right to life and freedom of religion, as they are essential for the much-needed promotion of a world where the dignity of every human person is protected and advanced.” It has tried to “end war and conflict, to repair what violence and strife have destroyed and to bring opposing sides to the table so that, together, diplomacy and negotiation may win the day”.
Cardinal Parolin also pointed out that the UN has not always lived up to its name and ideals, and has harmed itself whenever particular interests have triumphed over the common good. Hence, it needs to revitalize its original spirit, in line with the Charter’s principles and purposes, within the context of a changing world.
Diplomats representing their countries, he said, also need to seek the common in good faith through genuine consensus and compromise.
Despite all this, Cardinal Parolin stressed that the UN, “where the peoples of the world unite in dialogue and common action, is needed as much today as ever to respond to the undiminished hopes of the peoples of the world”.