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from issue no. 06 - 2005

An expected contribution




Those who have followed Vatican multilateral diplomatic activity up until now will naturally wonder how it will continue under the new Pope, what its guiding principles will be, and whether signs can also be found in the UN Assembly in New York of that “newness in continuity”. Certainly Pope Ratzinger’s mention in his first audience (in French) given to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See on 12 May, «of the nations with which the Holy See does not yet have diplomatic relations» and the expression of his «gratitude» to them for being associated with the commemorations for the death of John Paul II and for his own election, will have registered. He further expressed the desire of seeing these nations «represented very soon at the Apostolic See». It was clear that, among the rest, there was a reference to continental China.
As it was also obvious that the work and legacy of Pope Wojtyla can’t be summed up in a few phrases. That became clear from the numerous farewell tributes to memory of Pope John Paul II paid by all the UN leaders, from Kofi Annan to the President of the Assembly Jean Ping and the speakers truly representative of the whole planet who took the floor. Because he, it was underlined, combated rampant capitalism in the West and Communism in the East, gave a voice to those in the South condemned to live on less than a dollar a day and attempted to spread the culture of life in the developed North. And the wish that the UN should be a moral center capable of insuring that the world be a family of nations came from Pope John Paul II. Which, translated, means to be on the side of peace, of the weakest and of the poorest.
How will the new Pontiff interpret this legacy?
As soon as he was elected Benedict XVI said that he wanted to connect conceptually with Benedict XV - «who led the Church in a period tormented by the First World War» - and thus place his ministry «at the service of reconciliation and harmony among all men». Reconciliation, therefore.
There is likewise no doubt, in the light of the first pronouncements of Benedict XVI, that human dignity, the basis of all ensuing consideration and political action, will receive the same care and commitment abundantly given by the preceding Pope, and that therefore he will certainly want to declare himself on such problems of bioethics as cloning, a burning issue at the United Nations.
If Benedict XV was the Pope who tried to avoid «useless slaughter» by mediating with those in the world who wanted war, his namesake and successor will already find himself faced at the United Nations with a large-scale attempt to reorganize the world order, in which peace, security and development are both criteria and imperative needs. The Church cannot unilaterally condition the work of the UN, but no one doubts that the active intelligence of the Pontiff will find a way of making the contribution expected of the Catholic Church on peace and poverty in the world. He immediately evoked the “desert of poverty” in the homily with which he inaugurated his Petrine ministry on 24 April, prefiguring his desire to boost the social magisterium and charitable action, also through international channels such as the United Nations.
In terms of peacekeeping Pope Benedict’s diplomats, can offer a sincere, conceptual contribution to Kofi Annan on the issue of the refusal of war as political instrument.
In March, in fact, the Secretary General published a report aimed at outlining the way to reform the United Nations, sixty years after its foundation. In regard to the use of force in international relations (including the delicate case of preventive “humanitarian intervention”), he suggests that there should be an ad hoc resolution of the Security Council to sanction criteria for the future. These - extensively set out by Annan, are: the seriousness of the threat, just purpose in the use of force, previous consideration of means alternative to it, proportionality between the force to be used and the threat, reasonable hope of success if arms are used – are in ictu oculi identical to those expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as the legacy of Augustine and the Fathers of the Church. In May, in relation to the extremely delicate task of insuring a positive result for the revision of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, the Vatican representative to the UN did not fail -applying the criteria to reality - to affirm that peace in the 21st century cannot be based on nuclear deterrence and that response to the threat of terrorism «must not give rise to evils and disorders worse than the evil to be eliminated».
G. C.



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