Goodness is best medicine for world’s ills, says Holy See official

The United Nations

Humanity needs the “reserves of goodness present in human hearts” to confront the many challenges facing the world community, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, declared in his video address to the high-level General Debate of the UN General Assembly on Saturday.

Referring to the theme of the Debate, ‘Building Resilience Through Hope’, Cardinal Parolin differentiated hope from optimism: whilst optimism, he said, is an expectation that things will turn out well, hope is characterized by perseverance in the face of new and existing crises.

Cardinal Parolin called for a global recovery based on a renewed sense of fraternal solidarity. He called for the international community to work together to help those on the “pharmaceutical margins” and end needless suffering and death. Vaccines, he said, must be available to everyone, especially in conflict areas and humanitarian settings.

The Cardinal said that a renewed examination of how health care systems have largely been overwhelmed by the pandemic and left so many without sufficient care or any care at all, is needed.

Sustainable development ‘a daunting challenge’

A similar examination on economic systems, which have left many behind and made the poor even more vulnerable, is also required and, in light of political and distribution failures of the pandemic, the fight against corruption must continue.

The pandemic, warned Cardinal Parolin, has rendered the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, already an uphill struggle, a daunting challenge.

Rebuilding sustainably will mean rethinking the relationship between individuals and the economy, continued the Holy See Secretary of State, and ensuring that both economic models and development programs remain at the service of men and women, particularly those on the margins of society, rather than exploiting both people and natural resources.

Creating a resilient planet

The upcoming UN climate conference, known by the shorthand COP26, will be an important opportunity for resilience, said the Cardinal, affording the international community an opportunity to reinforce commitments to protect the Earth.

The senior official hailed the advances in technology, and human creativity, that are making environmentally conscious choices by governments and individuals easier, and inspiring hope.

However, he pointed out that hope is in short supply for so many who are caught up in conflict, singling out the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, and the ongoing political tensions in Syria and Lebanon, as a reminder of the impact that conflicts have on peoples and nations.

Cardinal Parolin reiterated calls by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Pope Francis for a global ceasefire, and for an end to the nuclear arms race, expressing the Holy See’s hope of progress in the implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), scheduled to hold its Review Conference next January.

A ‘crisis in human relationships’

The world, warned Cardinal Parolin, is dominated by selfishness and by the culture of waste, and is facing a “crisis of human relationships”, with negative consequences for human rights.

Humanitarian law, he declared, is often taken as a recommendation rather than an obligation, and “refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons are increasingly left in limbo or even left to drown”, and religious believers endure harassment, persecution, death and even genocide on account of their faith.

The senior official also condemned “partial interpretations” of human rights as a ground for polarization and division, that drive UN processes “contrary to the bodies’ given mandates”.

Committing the UN to ‘healthy politics’

Expanding on the theme of the UN’s role, Cardinal Parolin called for the Organization to return to the core principles and purposes enshrined in its Charter, and live up to its aims, rather than becoming a tool of the powerful, and commit to “health politics”, based on the pursuit of the common good and universal truth.

Revitalizing the UN, he added, must include examining whether the structure conceived in 1945 remains adequate for 2021 and beyond, and affording greater attention to promoting and safeguarding the mandates of UN bodies.

Read the full statement here.

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