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U.N. must help limit weapons of mass destruction, Vatican diplomat says

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UNITED NATIONS — Citing the words of Pope Francis, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations said it is necessary to boost cooperation among nations to end the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, especially among terrorist organizations.

An aide carries a case containing launch codes for nuclear weapons in Washington while following President Donald Trump before his departure to Camp David June 17. (CNS photo/Yuri Gripas, Reuters)

An aide carries a case containing launch codes for nuclear weapons in Washington while following President Donald Trump before his departure to Camp David June 17. (CNS photo/Yuri Gripas, Reuters)

Archbishop Bernardito Auza told an open debate during a meeting of the U.N. Security Council June 28 that efforts to increase coordination nationally, regionally and internationally must be strengthened so that the number of such weapons declines.

“The proliferation of weapons, both conventional and of mass destruction, aggravates situations of conflict and result in huge human and material costs that profoundly undermine development and the search for lasting peace,” Archbishop Auza told the council.

He quoted Pope Francis’ statements on the contradiction between efforts to seek peace and “at the same time, promote or permit the arms trade.” The diplomat said nonproliferation, arms control and disarmament are key to global security and to achieving the world body’s sustainable development goals.

The statement to the U.N. said that nations must overcome differences and find political solutions to prevent the involvement of nonstate actors in wars and regional conflicts.

“Without this, the human cost of wars and conflicts will continue to grow and the proliferation of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, along with their delivery systems and the risk of their use by states or terrorist groups will remain very clear and present dangers,” Archbishop Auza said.

Bolivia introduced the topic for the Security Council debate. It came in response to unanimous adoption Dec. 15 of a council resolution calling for a framework to keep terrorists and their organizations, which the U.N. terms nonstate actors,” from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

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World faces pressing need to protect water, Vatican official tells U.N.

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UNITED NATIONS — The right to clean water is a basic and pressing need for all people of the planet because without water “there is no life,” said the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations.

A man bathes at a public well in Colombo, Sri Lanka, March 22. (CNS photo/Dinuka Liyanawatte, Reuters)

A man bathes at a public well in Colombo, Sri Lanka, March 22. (CNS photo/Dinuka Liyanawatte, Reuters)

Addressing a U.N. meeting on water-related issues under the world body’s sustainable development goals March 22, Archbishop Bernardito Auza called on all nations to recognize the responsibility to care for and share water because it is a life-sustaining resource.

The archbishop’s comments came as World Water Day was being observed. The day has been set aside by international agencies and governments to focus attention on the need for universal access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in developing countries. Events also focus on advocating for sustainable management of freshwater resources.

WaterAid, a London-based international organization that helps communities access clean water and proper hygiene, said about 633 million people, nearly 10 percent of the world’s population, cannot get the water they need. The group made the comments in a report released March 22.

Archbishop Auza said there is an urgent need to protect and care for the earth, particularly its water supplies.

“Access to safe drinking water is a basic human right and a condition for sustainable development,” Archbishop Auza said. “Thus, it needs to be put front and center in public policy, in particular in programs to life people out of poverty.”

The U.N. nuncio said that competition for water can destabilize nations especially where aquatic resources cross national boundaries. He pointed to water experts and advocates who “ominously predict that the Third World War will be about water.”

Archbishop Auza also cited Pope Francis’ address to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, which he visited in Rome in 2014, advising the staff that “water is not free” and that its protection is vital to prevent war.

“Thus, rather than causing conflict,” the archbishop continued, “the need for water sharing should be an opportunity for cross-border cooperation and greater efforts toward adopting binding instruments to ensure stable and predictable transnational relations.”

He said nongovernmental organizations, joined by each person, must “assume our responsibilities” to preserve clean water for present and future generations to preserve peace and ensure that the earth is “more habitable and fraternal place, where no one is left behind and all are able to eat, drink, live healthy lives and grow in accordance with their dignity.”

Archbishop Auza also noted that an all-day conference being held that day at the Vatican, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Club of Rome. Titled “Watershed: Replenishing Water Values for a Thirsty World,” it drew about 400 policymakers, academics, business leaders and grass-roots advocates.

In a greeting to English speakers at his general audience, Pope Francis welcomed the participants, describing the conference as “yet another stage in the joint commitment of various institutions to raising consciousness about the need to protect water as a treasure belonging to everyone, mindful too of its cultural and religious significance.”

 

More information about World Water Day is available online at www.worldwaterday.org.

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Vatican’s U.N. nuncio urges action on poverty beyond economics

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UNITED NATIONS — Saying poverty is the greatest challenge facing humanity, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations called on nations to seek solutions to poverty not only based on economics but to also address personal, social and environmental factors that contribute to it.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza said that the world must also end conflicts and violence, which are major contributors to poverty. He made the comments during a presentation Feb. 6 to a meeting of the U.N. Commission for Social Development. Read more »

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‘International response’ only counter to terror, nuncio says

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UNITED NATIONS — Only a “collective international response” can thwart the specter of terrorism that crosses borders, according to the Vatican’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations.

“This response must also address the root causes upon which international terrorism feeds,” said Archbishop Bernardito Auza April14 during a U.N. Security Council debate titled “Threats to International Peace and Security by Terrorist Acts.”

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican's permanent representative at the U.N. in New York, says every country's primary duty is to protect its population from grave violations of human rights and consequences of humanitarian crises. Archbishop Auza is pictured in an undated photo. (CNS photo/Mark Garten, courtesy UN)

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican’s permanent representative at the U.N. in New York, says every country’s primary duty is to protect its population from grave violations of human rights and consequences of humanitarian crises.  (CNS photo/Mark Garten, courtesy UN)

“The present terrorist challenge has a strong sociocultural component,” he added. “Young people traveling abroad to join the ranks of terrorist organizations are disillusioned by what they experience as a situation of exclusion and by the lack of integration and values in certain societies.”

Archbishop Auza urged the international community to stop Islamic State’s international reach.

“Their access to cyberspace must be denied. Their access to funding must be cut off. No country, no company and no individual must be permitted to ‘do business’ with terror groups, in particular in arms and ammunitions,” the U.N. nuncio said.

“Collaboration with terror groups, whether for profit or for ideological complicity, must be outlawed. Member states that abet violent extremism or shelter terror groups must be rigorously challenged by this council,” he said. “Violations against international humanitarian law and all crimes against humanity committed by terror groups must be vigorously pursued.”

Archbishop Auza blasted “the mendacity and blasphemy of terrorist groups who claim to kill and oppress in the name of religion,” saying they “must be openly denounced in the strongest possible terms. Religious leaders, in particular, have a grave responsibility to condemn co-believers who seek to instrumentalize their religion as a justification for violence. No one of whatever religion or culture must ever be allowed to carry out acts of violence and oppression in the name of that religion or culture or under whatever pretext.”

He added, “The utter barbarity of their behavior and crimes leaves us dismayed and asking how the human heart can plan and carry out such horrible acts.”

During an April 18 U.N. Security Council debate on the Middle East, Archbishop Auza held fast to his theme of denouncing religiously inspired violence.

“Hear the cries of the beleaguered communities of Christians and other ethnic and religious minority groups in the Middle East, who are discriminated against, persecuted, slaughtered, set afire or drowned because they do not share the ideological or religious views of their persecutors,” he said.

“Their very peaceful enculturation as minorities into the majority culture has made them specific targets of extremist violence that forces them to flee their homes and abandon their properties and homeland, risking everything as they cross inhospitable deserts and perilous seas in search of calmer shores and welcoming communities which, unfortunately, they do not always find.”

Archbishop Auza also voiced his concern that “the two-state solution between Israel and Palestine is in danger of failing, as peace talks stall and inflammatory rhetoric, acts of terror and unilateral actions scupper efforts to restore a process of meaningful dialogue and compromise.”

He said, “The Holy See firmly believes that the two-state solution provides the best possibility of a peaceful settlement.”

Archbishop Auza noted what Pope Francis had remarked at the airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, during his 2014 visit to Jordan, Israel and Palestine. “He pleaded both for a universal recognition of the right of the state of Israel to exist and to flourish in peace and security within internationally recognized borders, and the creation of a viable state of Palestine, a sovereign homeland in which the Palestinians can live in peace, dignity and freedom,” the archbishop said. “The two-state solution must become reality and not remain merely a dream.”

Full relations between the Vatican and Palestine took effect Jan. 2. “The Holy See hopes that the agreement may serve as an example of dialogue and cooperation, in particular for other Arab and Muslim majority countries,” Archbishop Auza said.

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Vatican U.N. representative reports high interest in papal visit

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Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Requests for copies of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical and the demand for tickets to see him at the United Nations indicate enthusiasm and expectations for Pope Francis’ visit are running high, said the Vatican representative.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, head of the Holy See’s permanent observer mission at the United Nations, told Vatican Radio: “There is so much interest. Everybody wants to see the pope, even from a distance. The dream of so many is to have a selfie with the pope.”
Pope Francis is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly Sept. 25. Read more »

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