2016-09-23 14:00:00

Cardinal Parolin to UN: Development depends upon peace

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, on Thursday delivered an address for the opening of the Seventy-First Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

In his remarks, Cardinal Parolin said “Integral human development is…impossible without peace.”

“Conflicts not only render the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals at the regional level  absolutely impossible, but also destroy so many human resources, means of production and cultural heritage,” – the Cardinal said – “Today, as during the 1950s, 60s and 70s, there is the recurrence  of  the threat of nuclear conflict with its terrible consequences. The enormous and ill-fated effect of war is a downward spiral from which there is often no  escape, triggers an increase in political polarization at the global level and narrows the spaces in which the same international community can propose  effective solutions for a stable and lasting peace.”


The full text of Cardinal Parolin's speech is below



by His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin

Secretary of State of His Holiness Pope Francis

and Head of the Holy See Delegation

to the General Debate of the Seventy-First Session of the

United Nations General Assembly

New York, 22 September 2016

Mr President,

Last  year, in  his  address  in  this  Hall, His  Holiness Pope  Francis  defined  the 2030  Agenda for  Sustainable  Development as  “an  important  sign  of  hope.”  Just  a  few  days  ago,  he  reiterated  his  appreciation  for  the  actions taken  last  year  by  the  United  Nations,  encouraging all to put these ambitious objectives into practice: “The  protection  of  our  common  home  requires  a  growing  global  political  consensus.  Along  these  lines,  I  am  gratified  that  in  September  2015

the nations of the world adopted the Sustainable Development Goals,  and  that,  in  December  2015,  they  approved  the  Paris  Agreement  on  climate  change,  which  set  the  demanding  yet  fundamental  goal  of  halting  the  rise  of  the  global  temperature.  Now  governments  are  obliged to honour the commitments they made, while businesses must  also  responsibly  do  their  part.  It  is  up  to  citizens  to  insist  that  this  happen, and indeed to advocate for even more ambitious goals.”

The  achievement  of  the 2030  Agenda involves  an  important  assumption  of  responsibility  on  the  part  of  Governments  and  the  commitment  of  all  for  the  common  good. This  commitment  entails  recognizing the need to strive not only for great macroeconomic goals  but for  outcomes that  are  specific, lasting, and equitably  distributed.  Without  a  stable  financial  situation,  lasting  investments  and  a  commercial appraisal that favours internal growth, however, the 2030  Agenda will be impossible to achieve.  Pope Francis has emphasized that “economics and politics, society and  culture  cannot  be  dominated  by  thinking  only  of  the  short-term  and  immediate financial or electoral gains. Instead, they urgently need to  be redirected to the common good, which includes sustainability and  care for creation. One concrete case is the ‘ecological debt’ between the  global  north  and  south.  Repaying  it  would  require  treating  the  environments of poorer nations with care and providing the financial  resources  and  technical  assistance  needed  to  help  them  deal  with  climate change and promote sustainable development.”

We  always must  remember  that  development –  especially  integral  human  development –  cannot  be  imposed.   Men  and  women,  as  individuals, must  be  the  principal agents of the  2030  Agenda.   Last  year,  in  this  very  chamber,  Pope  Francis  affirmed  that  this  “presupposes and requires the right to education, … which is ensured  first and foremost by respecting and reinforcing the primary right of  the family to educate its children, as well as the right of churches and  social  groups  to  support  and  assist  families  in  the  education  of  their  children.”


Therefore, Pope Francis continued, “the simplest and best  measure  and  indicator  of  the  implementation  of  the  new Agenda for  development will be the effective, practical and immediate access, on  the  part  of  all,  to  essential  material  and  spiritual  goods:  housing,  dignified  and  properly  remunerated  employment,  adequate  food  and  drinking  water,  religious  freedom  and,  more  generally,  spiritual  freedom and education.”

Such  a  process  of bringing  about integral  human  development – a  concept that includes, but is not exhausted by, economic development  – should, through multilateral initiatives, stimulate also the quest for  complementary, alternative finance  systems capable  of ensuring that financial  resources are both  accessible  to  and  sustainable for  the poorest.  As  Pope  Francis  said  here  last  year, “The pillars  of  integral  human development have a common foundation, which is  the  right  to  life,” which  presumes that “we  recognize  a  moral  law  written  into  human  nature  itself,  one that includes  the  natural  difference  between  man and woman (cf. Laudato Si’, 155), and absolute respect for life in all its stages and dimensions.”

Integral human development is, moreover, impossible without peace. Only  two  days  ago in  Assisi, Pope  Francis, together  with  numerous  other world religious leaders, stressed the importance of dialogue as a  privileged  way  to  be  peacemakers.  Conflicts  not  only  render  the  attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals at the regional level  absolutely  impossible,  but  also  destroy so  many human  resources,  means  of  production  and  cultural  heritage.  Today,  as  during  the  1950s,  60s  and  70s, there is  the recurrence  of  the threat of  nuclear  conflict with its terrible consequences. The enormous  and  ill-fated effect of  war  is  a  downward spiral  from  which  there  is often no  escape,  triggers  an  increase  in  political  polarization  at the global  level  and narrows the  spaces  in  which  the  same  international  community can  propose  effective  solutions  for  a  stable and lasting peace.

Among  the  factors that degrade social  coexistence  in  countries  and  undermine the  whole  international  community,  we  must  count  the scourge of terrorism. In the course of recent years, we have seen the  metastasis of  terrorism to  so  many  parts  of the  world. Neighbors to  Syria  and  Iraq  have increasingly  become  victims  of innumerable  barbaric acts. Beyond the Middle East, atrocious acts of terrorism have  instilled fear in the daily life of so many across the globe.

In the Middle East, we see the terrible consequences of a spiral of war:  many lives destroyed; fallen states; collapsed ceasefires; unsuccessful  peace  initiatives;  and failed  attempts  to  resolve  the fundamental  causes  of  conflict  in  Syria,  Iraq  and  Libya,  to  find  a  solution  to  the  crisis  of  the  presidency  in  Lebanon,  and  to  resolve  the  Israeli-Palestinian conflict.   This persistent failure  has dampened the  hopes  and promises of all who consider that region sacred and holy.  We can also witness these failures in the long-standing conflicts that continue to oppress and take the lives of so many in South Sudan, the  Great  Lakes,  and  now  for  two  and  half  years  in  Eastern  Ukraine.  Although these situations have all been high profile and have brought  an immense  amount  of  human  suffering,  we  are  still  very  far  from  resolving their root  causes. It almost seems  that  we  have  accepted  conflict, war and terrorism as part of our new normal.

Beyond  the  urgency  of the  need  for  ceasefires,  for respect  for  the  dignity  and the  rights  of  affected  peoples,  and  for  access  to  humanitarian aid, there  is  also the necessity to facilitate negotiation  with those  who  have direct  or  indirect  responsibility  for  particular conflicts. Thankful for the positive outcome in Colombia, the heartfelt  hope  of  the  Holy  See  is  that, through  the  facilitation  of  the  international  community, various  forms  of  contact  and  dialogue will  be pursued to resolve ongoing conflicts. 

In particular, from the beginning of the conflict in Syria, the Holy See  has invited all Parties to dialogue and the international community to  spare no efforts in facilitating an end to violence and in promoting the  conditions  for  dialogue  aimed  at finding a  political solution. Syria,  however, has been overrun by all kinds of armed groups. The uproar of  arms must cease so that peace may stand a chance, and above all so  that humanitarian assistance may be brought to those who most need it. The Holy See is convinced that this is possible provided that there  is the political will to bring an end to the fighting.

Despite present difficulties, one can still gratefully find in Lebanon the  conviction  that  the  common  good  requires  the  participation  and  cooperation of all sectors of society, based on the rule of law and the  idea that institutions are founded on respect for the innate dignity of  every human being.  The  Lebanese  constitutional  arrangement,  in  which  diverse  ethnic groups,  cultures  and  religions  are  an  asset  and  contribute to a peaceful coexistence, can also be a model for a political  solution in the region. 

The  Holy  See  also  believes  that in  the  Middle  East  a  renewed  commitment in favour of the rule of law and of freedom of religion and  of conscience is the most effective way to safeguard the dignity of all.  In  this  context, the 2015 Global Agreement that the  Holy  See  signed with Palestine and that has subsequently been ratified by both Parties sets out in  law the  defence  of  the  most  basic  human  rights,  among  which are freedom of religion, the right to peaceful assembly, and the  freedom publicly to profess one’s own religious beliefs.  In the complex  situation  of  the Middle  East,  and  in  particular  in  Iraq  and  Syria,  the  Holy  See  maintains  that  the  Global  Agreement  with  Palestine can serve  as  a  template  for  other  Countries  with  analogous  social


In  the  context  of  renewed  efforts  to  relaunch  the  peace  process  between  Israelis  and  Palestinians,  the  Holy  See  renews  its  appeal  to  both Parties to abstain from unilateral or illegal measures of whatever  kind, which may constitute an obstacle to the search for peace and to  the advancing of the two-State Solution.

When  we  look  at  the phenomenon  of forced  migration,  we  find  ourselves before a population of people on the move greater than that  of many of the States represented here: sixty-five million people have  been compelled to flee from their homes and communities, because of persecution, conflict, widespread violence and hunger, and devastated lands. A  word  of  praise  must  go  to  Lebanon  and  to  Jordan  for  the  hospitality  they  are  offering  to  all  who have escaped  from  war  and  destruction  in  Iraq  and  Syria as  well  as  to  Turkey, which  is hosting millions of Syrian refugees.

Beyond  the  necessary urgent consideration  of  how  to resolve  the  causes  of this  forced  exodus,  we  must  note  that migration  and  development  are tightly  linked.   The  consequences  of  the  mass  movement  of  refugees  and  migrants threaten  to  weaken  our commitment to the values of solidarity and hospitality towards those  in need. These values stand at the heart of the Extraordinary Jubilee  of Mercy to which Pope Francis has been summoning the world.  As Pope  Francis  has emphasized, “Mercy  is  the  fundamental  law  that  dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of  his brothers and sisters on the path of life,”especially those who are  the weakest and most vulnerable.

Drawing  special  attention  to  those  who  are  in  prison, the  Pope  has  renewed his pressing appeal “to the consciences of leaders, that they  come  to  an  international  consensus  aimed  at  abolishing  the death  penalty.”

Without  authentic  and  absolute  respect  for  life,  there  can  be  no  development that is truly human, integral and sustainable. Precisely to foster this development, Pope Francis has instituted a new Dicastery  or  department of  the  Holy  See, the purpose of  which is  to promote justice,  peace, the safeguarding of  the  environment, and  the  care  of  those most in need. The  poor  and  needy are the  human  face  of  the sustainable development that we wish to keep ever before us, so that  we may become responsible agents of a  more  just  and  truly  human  society.

Thank you.

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