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← Watch Pope Francis' full address to the UN General Assembly

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Showing Revision 14 created 02/25/2016 by Claude Almansi.

  1. Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen,
  2. good morning.
  3. Once again, following a tradition
  4. by which I feel honored
  5. the Secretary-General of the United Nations
  6. has invited the Pope
  7. to address this distinguished
    assembly of nations.
  8. In my own name and that
    of the entire Catholic community,
  9. I wish to express to you, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon,
  10. my heartfelt gratitude.
  11. And I'd like to thank you
    for your kind words.
  12. I greet also the Heads of State
  13. and Heads of Government present,
  14. as well as the ambassadors, diplomats
  15. and political and technical officials
    accompanying them,
  16. the personnel of the United Nations,
    engaged in this,

  17. the seventieth session
    of the General Assembly,
  18. the personnel of the various programs
  19. and agencies of the United Nations family,
  20. and all those who in one way or another
  21. take part in this meeting.
  22. And through you I also greet the citizens
  23. of all the nations
  24. represented in this hall.
  25. I thank you each and all of you
  26. for your efforts in the service of mankind.
  27. This is the fifth time that a Pope has
    visited the United Nations.
  28. I follow in the footsteps
    of my predecessors
  29. Pope Paul the 6th in 1965
  30. Pope John Paul the 2nd in 1979 and in 1995
  31. and my most recent predecessor
  32. now Pope Emeritus Benedict the 16th in 2008.
  33. All of them expressed their great esteem
    for the Organization,
  34. which they considered the appropriate
    juridical and political response
  35. to this present moment of history
  36. marked by our technical ability
  37. to overcome distances and frontiers,
  38. and apparentely to overcome
  39. all natural limits to the exercise of power.
  40. An essential response in as much as
    technological power
  41. in the hands of nationalistic
    or falsely universalist ideologies
  42. is capable of perpetrating
    tremendous atrocities.
  43. I can only reiterate the appreciation
    expressed by my predecessors
  44. in reaffirming the importance
  45. which the Catholic Church
    attaches to this Institution,
  46. and the hope which she places
    in its activities.
  47. The history of this organized community
    of states,
  48. represented by the United Nations,
  49. which is presently celebrating
    its 70th Anniversary,
  50. is one of important common achievements,
  51. over a period of
    unusually fast-paced changes.
  52. Without claiming to be exhaustive,
    we can mention
  53. the codification and development
    of international law,
  54. the establishment of international
    norms regarding human rights
  55. advances in humanitarian law,
  56. the resolution of numerous conflicts,
  57. operations of peace-keeping, and
  58. and any number of other accomplishments
  59. in every area of international activity
    and endeavor.
  60. Now all these achievements are lights,
  61. which help to dispel the darkness
    of the disorder caused
  62. by unrestrained ambitions
    and collective forms of selfishness.
  63. Certainly, many grave problems
    remain to be resolved.
  64. Yet, it is clear that without all those
    interventions on the international level,
  65. mankind would not
    have been able to survive
  66. the unchecked use
    of its own possibilities.
  67. Every one of these political, juridical,
    and technical advances
  68. is a path towards attaining
    the ideal of human fraternity,
  69. and a means for its greater realization.
  70. So for this reason, I pay homage
    to all those men and women
  71. whose loyalty and self-sacrifice have
    benefited humanity as a whole
  72. over these past 70 years.
  73. In particular today, I would like to
    recall those who have given their lives
  74. for peace and reconciliation
    among peoples,
  75. from Dag Hammarskjöld,
  76. to the many United Nations officials
    at every level,
  77. who have been killed in the course
    of humanitarian missions
  78. and missions of peace and reconciliation.
  79. The experience of the past 70 years
    beyond all these achievements,
  80. has made it clear that reform and
    adaptation to the times
  81. is always necessary
  82. in the pursuit of the ultimate goal
    of granting all countries
  83. without exception, a share in
    and a genuine and equitable influence on
  84. decision-making processes.
  85. The need for greater equity
    is especially true,
  86. in the case of those bodies
    with effective executive capabilities
  87. such as the Security Council,
    the financial agencies,
  88. and the groups or mechanisms
    which were specifically created
  89. to deal with economic crises.
  90. This will help limit every kind of abuse
    or usury,
  91. especially where developing countries
    are concerned.
  92. The International Financial Agencies
  93. should care for the sustainable
    development of countries
  94. and should ensure that they are not
    subjected to oppressive lending systems
  95. which ....
  96. So, the International Financial Agencies
  97. should care for the sustainable
    development of countries
  98. and should ensure that they are not
    subjected to oppressive lending systems,
  99. which, far from promoting progress,
    subject people to mechanisms
  100. which generate greater poverty,
    exclusion and dependence.
  101. The work of the United Nations,
  102. according to the principles
    set forth in the Preamble
  103. and the first Articles
    of its founding Charter,
  104. can be seen as the development and promotion of the rule of law,
  105. based on the realization that justice
    is an essential condition
  106. for achieving the ideal
    of universal fraternity.
  107. In this context, it is helpful to recall
  108. that the limitation of power is an idea
    implicit in the concept of law itself.
  109. To give to each his own, to cite
    the classic definition of justice,
  110. means that no human individual or group
    can consider itself absolute,
  111. permitted to bypass the dignity
    and the rights of other individuals
  112. or their social groupings.
  113. The effective distribution of power
  114. -- political, economic, defense-related,
    technological, etc. --
  115. among a plurality of subjects,
  116. and the creation of a juridical system
    for regulating claims and interests,
  117. are one concrete way of limiting power.
  118. Yet today’s world presents us
    with many false rights
  119. and -- at the same time -- broad sectors
    which are vulnerable,
  120. victims of power that is badly exercised:
  121. the natural environment
  122. and the vast ranks of men and women
    who are excluded.
  123. These sectors are closely interconnected
    and made increasingly fragile
  124. by dominant political
    and economic relationships.
  125. That is why their rights
    must be forcefully affirmed,
  126. by working to protect the environment
    and by putting an end to exclusion.
  127. First, it must be stated that a true
    “right of the environment” does exist,
  128. and for two reasons.
  129. First, because we human beings
    are part of the environment.
  130. We live in communion with it,
  131. since the environment itself entails
    ethical limits
  132. which human activity
    must acknowledge and respect.
  133. Man, for all his remarkable gifts,
  134. which “are signs of a uniqueness
    which transcends
  135. the spheres of physics and biology”,
  136. is at the same time
    a part of these spheres.
  137. He possesses a body shaped by physical,
    chemical and biological elements,
  138. and can only survive and develop
  139. if the ecological environment
    is favourable.
  140. Any harm done to the environment,
    therefore, is harm done to humanity.
  141. Second, because every creature,
    particularly a living creature,
  142. has an intrinsic value, in its existence,
    its life, its beauty
  143. and its interdependence
    with other creatures.
  144. We Christians, together with
    the other monotheistic religions,
  145. believe that the universe is the fruit
    of a loving decision by the Creator,
  146. who permits man respectfully
    to use creation
  147. for the good of his fellow men
    and for the glory of the Creator;
  148. but he is not authorized to abuse it,
  149. and much less is he authorized
    to destroy it.
  150. In all religions,
    the environment is a fundamental good.
  151. The misuse and destruction
    of the environment
  152. are also accompanied
    by a relentless process of exclusion.
  153. In effect, a selfish and boundless
    thirst for power and material prosperity
  154. leads both to the misuse
    of available natural resources
  155. and to the exclusion of the weak
    and the disadvantaged,
  156. either because they are differently abled
  157. or because they lack adequate information
    and technical expertise,
  158. or are incapable
    of decisive political action.
  159. Economic and social exclusion is
    a complete denial of human fraternity
  160. and a very grave offense against
    human rights and the environment.
  161. And the poorest are those
    who suffer most from such offenses,
  162. for three serious reasons:
  163. they are cast off by society,
  164. forced to live off what is discarded
  165. and suffer unjustly from the consequences
    of the abuse of the environment.
  166. These phenomena are part of today’s
  167. and quietly growing “culture of waste”.
  168. The dramatic reality this whole situation
    of exclusion and inequality,
  169. with its evident effects, has led me,
  170. in union with the entire Christian people
    and many others,
  171. to take stock also of my grave
    responsibility in this regard
  172. and therefore to speak out,
  173. together with all those who are seeking
    urgently-needed and effective solutions.
  174. The adoption of the 2030
    Agenda for Sustainable Development
  175. at the World Summit, which opens today,
    is an important sign of hope.
  176. I am similarly confident that the Paris
    Conference on Climatic Change
  177. will secure
    fundamental and effective agreements.
  178. Solemn commitments, however,
    are not enough,
  179. even though they are
    a necessary step toward solutions.
  180. The classic definition of justice
    which I mentioned earlier
  181. contains as one of its essential elements
    a constant and perpetual will:
  182. Iustitia est constans et perpetua voluntas
    ius suum cuique tribuendi.
  183. Our world demands
    of all government leaders a will
  184. which is effective, practical, constant,
  185. with concrete steps and immediate measures
  186. for preserving and improving
    the natural environment
  187. and thus putting an end
    as quickly as possible
  188. to the phenomenon
    of social and economic exclusion,
  189. with its baneful consequences of:
  190. human trafficking,
  191. the marketing of human organs and tissues,
  192. sexual exploitation of boys and girls,
  193. slave labour, including prostitution,
  194. the drug and weapons trade,
  195. terrorism and international organized crime.
  196. Such is the magnitude of these situations
    and their toll in innocent lives,
  197. that we must avoid every temptation
  198. to fall into a declarationist nominalism
  199. which would just assuage
    our own consciences.
  200. We need to ensure that our institutions
    are truly effective
  201. in the struggle against all these scourges.
  202. The number and complexity of the problems
  203. require that we possess
    technical instruments of verification.
  204. But this involves two risks.
  205. We can rest content
    with the bureaucratic exercise
  206. of drawing up long lists of good proposals
  207. -- goals, objectives
    and statistical indicators --
  208. or we can think that a single theoretical
    and a priori solution
  209. will provide an answer
    to all these challenges.
  210. It must never be forgotten
  211. that political and economic activity
    is only effective
  212. when it is understood
    as a prudential activity,
  213. guided by a perennial concept of justice
  214. and consciously [i.e.constantly]
    conscious of the fact that,
  215. above and beyond our plans and programmes,
  216. we are dealing with real men and women
    who live, struggle and suffer,
  217. and are often forced to live
    in great poverty,
  218. and deprived of all rights.
  219. But to enable these real men and women
    to escape from extreme poverty,
  220. we must allow them to be
    dignified agents of their own destiny.
  221. Integral human development
    and the full exercise of human dignity
  222. cannot be imposed.
  223. They must be built up and
  224. allowed to unfold for each individual,
    for every family,
  225. in communion with others,
  226. and in a right relationship
  227. with all those areas
  228. in which human social life develops
  229. -- friends, communities,
    towns, cities, schools,
  230. businesses, unions,
    provinces and nations.
  231. Now, this proposes [presupposes]
    and requires the right to education
  232. -- also for girls,
    who are excluded in certain places --
  233. the right to education,
    which is ensured first and foremost
  234. by respecting and reinforcing
    the primary right of the family
  235. to educate its children,
  236. as well as the right of churches
    and social groups
  237. to support and assist families
    in the education of their boys and girls.
  238. Education conceived in this way
  239. is the basis for the implementation
    of the 2030 Agenda
  240. and for reclaiming the environment.
  241. At the same time, government leaders
    must do everything possible
  242. to ensure that all can have
    the minimum spiritual and material means
  243. needed to live in dignity
    and to create and support a family,
  244. which is the primary cell
    of any social development.
  245. In practical terms, this absolute minimum
    has three names:
  246. lodging, labour, and land;
  247. and one spiritual name: spiritual freedom,
  248. which includes religious freedom,
    the right to education
  249. and all other civil rights.
  250. And for all this, the simplest and best
    measure and indicator
  251. of the implementation
    of the new Agenda for development
  252. will be effective, practical
    and immediate access,
  253. on the part of all,
    to essential material and spiritual goods:
  254. housing,
  255. dignified and properly remunerated
  256. adequate food and drinking water;
  257. religious freedom
  258. and, more generally, spiritual freedom and education.
  259. Now, these pillars
    of integral human development
  260. have a common foundation,
  261. and this is the right to life and,
    more generally,
  262. what we could call the right to existence
    of human nature itself.
  263. The ecological crisis,
  264. together with the large-scale destruction
    of biodiversity,
  265. can threaten the very existence
    of the human species.
  266. The baneful consequences
    of an irresponsible mismanagement
  267. of the global economy,
  268. guided only by ambition
    for wealth and power,
  269. must serve as a summons
    to a forthright reflection on man:
  270. “Man is not only a freedom
    which he creates for himself.
  271. Man does not create himself.
  272. He is spirit and will, but also nature”
  273. Creation is compromised
    “where we ourselves have the final word.
  274. The misuse of creation begins
  275. when we no longer recognize
    any instance above ourselves,
  276. when we see nothing else but ourselves”
  277. Consequently,
    the defence of the environment
  278. and the fight against exclusion
  279. demand that we recognize a moral law
    written into human nature itself,
  280. one which includes the natural difference
    between man and woman
  281. and the absolute respect for life
    in all its stages and dimensions
  282. Without the recognition of certain
    incontestable natural ethical limits
  283. and without the immediate implementation
  284. of those pillars of integral
    human development,
  285. the ideal of
  286. “saving succeeding generations
    from the scourge of war”,
  287. and of “promoting social progress
  288. and better standards of life
    in larger freedom”,
  289. risks becoming an unattainable illusion,
  290. or, even worse, just idle chatter
  291. which serves as a cover
    for all kinds of abuse and corruption,
  292. or for carrying out
    an ideological colonization
  293. by the imposition of anomalous
    models and lifestyles
  294. which are alien to people’s identity
    and, in the end, are irresponsible.
  295. War is the negation of all rights
  296. and it's a dramatic assault
    on the environment.
  297. If we want true integral
    human development for all,
  298. we must work tirelessly to avoid war
    between nations and between peoples.
  299. To this end, there is a need to ensure
    the uncontested rule of law
  300. and tireless recourse to negotiation,
  301. mediation and arbitration,
  302. as proposed by the Charter
    of the United Nations,
  303. which constitutes truly
    a fundamental juridical norm.
  304. The experience of these seventy years
  305. since the founding of the United Nations
    in general,
  306. and in particular, the experience
  307. of these first fifteen years
    of the third millennium,
  308. reveal both the effectiveness of the full
    application of international norms
  309. and the ineffectiveness
    of their lack of enforcement.
  310. When the Charter of the United Nations
    is respected
  311. and applied with transparency
    and sincerity,
  312. and without ulterior motives,
  313. as an obligatory
    reference point of justice
  314. and not as a means
    for masking spurious intentions,
  315. peaceful results will be obtained.
  316. When, on the other hand, the norm
    is considered simply as an instrument
  317. to be used whenever it proves favourable,
  318. and then to be avoided when it is not,
  319. a true Pandora’s box is opened,
  320. releasing uncontrollable forces
  321. which gravely harm
    defenceless populations,
  322. the cultural milieu
    and even the biological environment.
  323. The Preamble and the first Article
    of the Charter of the United Nations
  324. set forth the foundations
    of the international juridical framework:
  325. peace, the pacific solution of disputes
  326. and the development of friendly relations
    between the nations.
  327. Now, strongly opposed to such statements,
    and in practice denying them,
  328. is the constant tendency
    to the proliferation of arms,
  329. especially weapons of mass distraction,
    such as nuclear weapons.
  330. An ethics and a law based on the threat
    of mutual destruction
  331. -- and possibly the destruction
    of all mankind --
  332. are self-contradictory
  333. and represent an affront to the entire
    framework of the United Nations,
  334. which would end up as a
    “nations united by fear and distrust”.
  335. There is urgent need to work for a world
    free of nuclear weapons,
  336. in full application of the
    non-proliferation Treaty,
  337. in letter and spirit,
  338. towards the goal of a complete
    prohibition of these weapons.
  339. The recent agreement reached
    on the nuclear question
  340. in a sensitive region of Asia
    and the Middle East
  341. is proof of the potential
    of political good will and of law,
  342. exercised with sincerity,
    patience and constancy.
  343. I express my hope
  344. that this agreement will be lasting
    and efficacious,
  345. and bring forth the desired fruits
  346. with the cooperation
    of all the parties involved.
  347. In this sense, hard evidence
    is not lacking
  348. of the negative effects of
    military and political interventions
  349. which are not coordinated between
    members of the international community.
  350. For this reason,
    while regretting to have to do so,
  351. I must renew my repeated appeals
  352. regarding to the painful situation
    of the entire Middle East,
  353. North Africa and other African countries,
  354. where Christians, together
    with other cultural or ethnic groups,
  355. and even members of the majority religion
  356. who have no desire to be caught up
    in hatred and folly,
  357. have been forced to witness
    the destruction
  358. of their places of worship,
  359. their cultural and religious heritage,
  360. their houses and property,
  361. and have faced the alternative
    either of fleeing
  362. or of paying for their adhesion
    to good and to peace
  363. by their own lives, or by enslavement.
  364. These realities should serve
    as a grave summons
  365. to an examination of conscience
  366. on the part of those charged
    with the conduct of international affairs.
  367. And not only in cases of religious
    or cultural persecution,
  368. but in every situation of conflict,
  369. as in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya,
    South Sudan
  370. and the Great Lakes region,
  371. real human beings take precedence
    over partisan interests,
  372. however legitimate the latter may be.
  373. In wars and conflicts
    there are individual persons,
  374. our brothers and sisters,
  375. men and women,
  376. young and old, boys and girls
  377. who weep, suffer and die.
  378. Human beings who are easily discarded
  379. when our only response is
  380. to draw up lists of problems,
    strategies and disagreements.
  381. As I wrote in my letter to the
    Secretary-General of the United Nations
  382. on 9 August 2014,
  383. “the most basic understanding
    of human dignity
  384. compels the international community,
  385. particularly through the norms
    and mechanisms of international law,
  386. to do all that it can
    to stop and to prevent
  387. further systematic violence against
    ethnic and religious minorities”
  388. and to protect innocent peoples.
  389. Along the same lines I would mention
    another kind of conflict
  390. which is not always so open,
  391. yet is silently killing
    millions of people.
  392. Another kind of war experienced
    by many of our societies
  393. as a result of the narcotics trade.
  394. A war which is taken for granted
    and poorly fought.
  395. Drug trafficking is by its very nature
    accompanied by trafficking in persons,
  396. money laundering,
  397. the arms trade,
  398. child exploitation
    and other forms of corruption.
  399. A corruption which has penetrated
    to the different levels
  400. of social, political, military,
    artistic and religious life,
  401. and, in many cases, has given rise
    to a parallel structure
  402. which threatens
    the credibility of our institutions.
  403. I began this speech recalling
    the visits of my predecessors.
  404. And now, I would hope that my words
    will be taken above all
  405. as a continuation of the final words
    of the address of Pope Paul VI;
  406. spoken almost exactly fifty years ago,
    they remain ever timely.
  407. And I quote:
  408. “The hour has come when a pause,
  409. a moment of recollection,
    reflection, even of prayer,
  410. is absolutely needed so that we may
    think back over our common origin,
  411. our history, our common destiny.
  412. The appeal to the moral conscience of man
  413. has never been as necessary
    as it is today.
  414. For the danger comes
    neither from progress nor from science;
  415. if these are used well,
    they can help to solve
  416. a great number of the serious problems
    besetting mankind.
  417. Among other things, human genius,
    well applied,
  418. will surely help to meet
    the grave challenges
  419. of ecological deterioration
    and of exclusion.
  420. An I continue in quoting Paul VI:
  421. “The real danger comes from man,
  422. who has at his disposal
    ever more powerful instruments
  423. that are as well fitted
    to bring about ruin
  424. as they are to achieve lofty conquests”.
    That is what Pope Paul VI said.
  425. The common home of all men
    must continue to rise
  426. on the foundations
    of a right understanding
  427. of universal fraternity and respect
    for the sacredness of every human life,
  428. of every man and every woman,
  429. the poor, the elderly, children,
    the infirm,
  430. the unborn, the unemployed, the abandoned,
  431. and those considered disposable
  432. because they are only considered
    as part of one or another statistic.
  433. This common home of all men, women
  434. must also be built on the understanding
    of a certain sacredness of created nature.
  435. Now, such understanding and respect
    call for a higher degree of wisdom,
  436. one which accepts transcendence,
  437. and at the same time, rejects the creation
    of an all-powerful élite,
  438. and recognizes that the full meaning
    of individual and collective life
  439. is found in the selfless service to others
  440. and in the sage and respectful
    use of creation for the common good.
  441. To repeat the words of Paul VI,
  442. “the edifice of modern civilization
    has to be built on spiritual principles,
  443. for they are the only ones capable
    not only of supporting it,
  444. but of shedding light on it”
  445. El Gaucho Martín Fierro, a classic of
    literature in my native land, says:
  446. sings
  447. “Brothers should stand by each other,
    because this is the first law;
  448. keep a true bond between you always,
    at every time --
  449. because if you fight among yourselves,
  450. you’ll be devoured by those outside”.
  451. The contemporary world,
    so apparently connected,
  452. is experiencing a growing and steady
    social fragmentation,
  453. which places at risk
  454. “the foundations of social life”
  455. and consequently leads to
  456. “battles between ourselves
    to defend our conflicting interests”
  457. The present time invites us
    to give priority to actions
  458. which generate new processes in society,
  459. so as to bear fruit in significant
    and positive historical events.
  460. We cannot permit ourselves to postpone
    “certain agendas” for the future.
  461. The future demands of us
    critical and global decisions
  462. in the face of world-wide conflicts
  463. which increase the number of the excluded
    and those in need.
  464. The praiseworthy
    international juridical framework
  465. of the United Nations Organization
    and of all its activities,
  466. like any other human endeavour,
  467. can be improved, yet it remains necessary;
  468. at the same time it can be the pledge
    of a secure and happy future
  469. for future generations.
  470. And so it will,
    if the representatives of the States
  471. can set aside partisan
    and ideological interests,
  472. and sincerely strive
    to serve the common good.
  473. I pray to Almighty God
    that this will be the case,
  474. and I assure you of my support
    and my prayers,
  475. and the support and prayers of
    all the faithful of the Catholic Church,
  476. that this Institution,
    all its member States,
  477. and each of its officials,
  478. will always render
    an effective service to mankind,
  479. a service respectful of diversity
  480. and capable of bringing about,
    for sake of the common good,
  481. the best in each people
    and in every individual.
  482. Upon all of you: may God bless you all.
  483. > On behalf of the General Assembly
    I wish to express
  484. as already has been done with our hands,
  485. our deep appreciation to His Holiness
    Pope Francis
  486. for this very important statement,
  487. a statement furthering reflection
    and inspiration for all of us.
  488. I request representatives
    to be kind enough
  489. to remain at their seats
    while we accompany
  490. His Holiness
    out of the General Assembly Hall.
  491. The Summit for the adoption
    of the Post-2015 Development Agenda
  492. will begin shortly.
  493. In the interim period immediately
    following the adjournment of this meeting,
  494. I invite representatives to remain seated
  495. and view the special performances
    and presentations
  496. on the occasion of the convening
    of the Summit
  497. The meeting is adjourned.