During his scheduled three-hour visit to UN Headquarters, the Pope will also meet with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim and Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa, which holds the rotating Security Council presidency this month. The visit will fall on the first anniversary of Mr. Ban’s visit to the Vatican, when the Secretary-General then invited the Pope to come to the UN. It is the fourth papal visit to the UN, following those of Paul VI in 1965 and John Paul II in 1979 and 1995.
Pope Benedict XVI's Address to the U.N. General Assembly (USCCB Papal Visit blog):
The Holy Father began his address in French before switching to English. He noted that the founding principles of the United Nations – the desire for peace, a sense of justice, respect for the dignity of the human person, and cooperation and humanitarian assistance — are just aspirations of the human spirit. The Holy See shares an interest in these principles.
Questions of security, development, reducing inequality, and care of the environment require collective action in good faith for the common good. While scientific and technological advances can be of great help, some can rob the human person and the family of their identity. He called on the international community to act with juridical means when needed to safeguard human rights.
The Holy Father spoke of the critical importance of protecting human rights, noting the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Promoting human rights is the most effective strategy for reducing inequality and increasing security. Human rights are not simply a matter of law, but of justice, based in the natural law written on the human heart.
Once again, the Holy Father spoke of the importance of dialogue between religions as a way of building consensus in service of the common good. He emphasized the importance of freedom of religion in its public as well as its private dimension.
Pope Benedict said that the Catholic Church wishes to offer her proper contribution to international relations, making available her centuries of experience. He concluded his address by greeting the assembly in all the official languages of the United Nations, wishing them peace and prosperity with God’s help.
The assembly responded to his address with a standing ovation.
Courtesy of the New York Times: The text of Pope Benedict XVI’s address to the United Nations General Assembly on April 18, "as supplied by the Vatican and checked against delivery. The remarks were delivered partly in French and partly in English."
Coverage & Commentary
- Carl Olson provides a helpful list of supplementary essays (mostly by the great Fr. James V. Schall), expanding upon the Pope's discussion of human rights grounded in natural law, "valid at all times and for all peoples" in his U.N. address.
- "The pope's impassioned speech on global warming ... that wasn't", by Thomas Peters (American Papist):
British tabloids and other less-than-reputable news organizations claimed last year, early in the papal visit planning process, that Pope Benedict would use his speech at the United Nations to "deliver a powerful warning over climate change." Now that the speech has been delivered and made available, I went looking for the pope's "centrepiece" to complete the Vatican's "environmental blitz" making it a "moral cause for the Catholic Church." ...