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Have you heard? A U.N. treaty, backed by Vatican and U.S. bishops, has banned nuclear weapons

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Catholic News Service

The passage of a United Nations treaty banning the possession of nuclear weapons comes at a time when the majority of world’s nations are frustrated with the slow pace of nuclear disarmament.

Even with such a pact, years in the making, there is no timeline for total disarmament, arms control experts told Catholic News Service. Read more »

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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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Pope: U.S., North Korea need diplomatic solution to escalating tensions

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Catholic News Service

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM CAIRO — A diplomatic solution must be found to the escalating tension between North Korea and the United States, Pope Francis told journalists.

“The path (to take) is the path of negotiation, the path of a diplomatic solution,” he said when asked about U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to send Navy warships to the region in response to North Korea’s continued missile tests and threats to launch nuclear strikes against South Korea, Japan and the United States.

Pope Francis listens to a question from Vera Shcherbakova of the Itar-Tass news agency while talking with journalists aboard his flight from Cairo to Rome April 29. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis listens to a question from Vera Shcherbakova of the Itar-Tass news agency while talking with journalists aboard his flight from Cairo to Rome April 29. (CNS/Paul Haring)

“What do you say to these leaders who hold responsibility for the future of humanity,” the pope was asked, during a Q-and-A with journalists on the flight to Rome April 29 after a 27-hour trip to Cairo.

“I will call on them. I’m going to call on them like I have called on the leaders of different places,” he said.

There are many facilitators and mediators around the world who are “always ready to help” with negotiations, the pope said.

The situation in North Korea, he added, has been heated for a long time, “but now it seems it has heated up too much, no?”

“I always call (for) resolving problems through the diplomatic path, negotiations” because the future of humanity depends on it, he said.

Pope Francis said his contention that the Third World War already is underway and is being fought “piecemeal” also can be seen in places where there are internal conflicts like in the Middle East, Yemen and parts of Africa.

“Let’s stop. Let’s look for a diplomatic solution,” he said. “And there, I believe that the United Nations has a duty to regain its leadership (role) a bit because it has been watered down.”

When asked if he would want to meet with President Trump when the U.S. leader is in Italy in late May, the pope said, “I have not been informed yet by the (Vatican) secretary of state about a request being made.”

But he added, “I receive every head of state who asks for an audience.”

A journalist with German media asked the pope about the controversy he sparked April 22 for saying some refugee camps are like concentration camps.

“For us Germans obviously that is a very, very serious term. People say it was a slip of the tongue. What did you want to say?” the reporter asked.

“No, it was not a slip of the tongue,” Pope Francis said, adding that there are some refugee camps in the world, but definitely not in Germany, that “are real concentration camps.”

When centers are built to lock people up, where there is nothing to do and they can’t leave, that is a “lager,” he said, referring to the German word for concentration camps.

Another reporter asked how people should interpret his speeches to government officials when he calls on them to support peace, harmony and equality for all citizens, and whether it reflected him supporting that government.

The pope said that with all 18 trips he has taken to various countries during his pontificate, he always hears the same concern.

However, when it comes to local politics, “I do not get involved,” he said.

“I talk about values,” he said, and then it is up to each individual to look and judge whether this particular government or nation or person is “delivering these values.”

When asked if he had had a chance to run off to see the pyramids, the pope said, “Well, you know that today at six in this morning two of my assistants went to see” them.

When asked if he wished he had gone with them, too, the pope said, “Ah, yes.”

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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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U.N. Refugee Olympic team: A victory cheer for all refugees

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Catholic News Service

RIO DE JANEIRO — Glued to the improvised screen set up on the patio of the Caritas house, the refugees yelled and they cried. But most of all, they cheered. They cheered for their two Congolese colleagues, Popole Misenga, 24, and Yolande Mabika, 28, who were competing in judo as part of the United Nations’ Refugee Olympic team. Read more »

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Commentary: Pope Francis spoke truth to Congress and United Nations

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As the first pope in history to address a joint meeting of Congress, Pope Francis, defended the human right of masses of oppressed and poor people to immigrate. Read more »

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Chinese Catholics in New York protest Xi, welcome pope

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Chinese Catholics in the United States planned to protest outside the Chinese consulate in New York Sept. 22, the first day of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s U.S. visit.

UCanews.com reported that the immigrants, who live in New York, said they are discontent with the deteriorating religious situation in China.

“Our action is to show our solidarity to the Christian brothers and sisters in China,” Xu Kewang, one of the Chinese Catholics, told ucanews.com.

More than 1,200 church crosses had been removed in Zhejiang since late 2013. Though the cross-removal campaign shows signs of easing, provincial authorities have begun a crackdown on lawyers and church leaders seeking to put a stop to the campaign through legal means.

At the same time, authorities want to introduce administrative punishments for so-called offenses carried out by Christians in Zhejiang, where there are an estimated 2 million Catholics.

The Chinese immigrants have prepared placards demanding the “release of detained clergy,” and an end to religious persecution.

“Our protesting group is just a small one because some Chinese parishioners are timid. They fear retaliation when they return to China,” Xu said.

Besides Xu and his fellow parishioners, other concerned groups are also pressuring the U.S. government to address China’s crackdown on human rights activists and lawyers and political prisoners, including Bishop James Su Zhimin of Baoding.

The Catholic bishop, who has been missing since 1997, is one of the 20 dissidents and religious figures featured in the “Free China’s Heroes” campaign spearheaded by Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, head of the U.S. congressional commission on China.

At least 1,300 political and religious prisoners are believed to be detained in China, according to a database compiled by the commission.

Xu also told ucanews.com he and the other Chinese Catholics will greet Pope Francis during the pontiff’s Sept. 24-25 visit to New York.

“We are happy to have the chance to see the pope. But we will not make an appeal to him. It is not necessary. We know he is concerned about China,” Xu said.

Pope Francis was to arrive in Washington Sept. 22 after his visit to Cuba. He will arrive in New York Sept. 24 just as Xi arrives in Washington from Seattle. Both men are expected to address the United Nations’ 70th General Assembly in New York, but on different days.

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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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Vatican official: United Nations is not ‘the devil, quite the opposite’

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The United Nations is not “the devil,” so a papal think tank is free to collaborate with the international body as well as people of any political persuasion, said Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

The church will continue to collaborate with the United Nations on any joint project that “does not go against the doctrine of the church,” he said at a news conference July 15.

The Vatican academy is sponsoring a one-day symposium July 22 with the United Nations’ global initiative, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, headed by U.S. economist Jeffrey Sachs.

The academy is also sponsoring a related daylong workshop July 21, bringing together 60 mayors and top-level representatives of major cities around the world to take concrete steps against modern-day forms of slavery in their communities. Many mayors also will attend the next day’s Vatican event in the hopes of adding their voice and support to sustainable development goals that will be up for approval at the United Nations in September.

The meeting is the second the pontifical academy has organized this year with key leaders and advisers from the United Nations.

While some have objected to the Vatican cooperating with organizations and individuals who promote population control in ways that clearly violate church teaching, Bishop Sanchez said the church works with everyone in order to join forces on common concerns.

“The invitation is open to everyone. If you would like to invite other people, we would be very pleased,” the bishop replied to a journalist who asked why the 12 Italian mayors participating in the conference were mostly from center-left political coalitions or parties.

“All of your friends from the right, or even if they are not your friends, but in any case, we would welcome everyone; we have nothing against it,” he said to the journalist.

In response to a question about whether the Vatican was letting itself become a platform for the United Nations to promote its own agenda, Bishop Sanchez said the idea for and organization of the meeting came from the pontifical academy with added input from the U.N. development network.

“The United Nations is not the devil. Rather, quite the opposite,” he said.

Blessed Pope Paul VI, who was the first pope to visit the United Nations, told the general assembly in 1965 that the world organization represented the mandatory path of modern civilization and world peace, Bishop Sanchez said. Successive popes showed the same kind of support with their own visits to the U.N., too, he said.

“Therefore, I don’t see how there can be any problem” with collaborating with the United Nations, especially as the academy has worked with many other world organizations and leaders, he said.

“To see the devil in the United Nations, which some on the right tend to do, is not the position of the Holy See,” he said.

 

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Vatican welcomes Iran’s historic nuclear deal, U.S. bishops urge Congress to ratify

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VATICAN CITY — The Holy See welcomed Iran’s historic nuclear deal and expressed hopes that more future breakthroughs be on the horizon on other issues.

An International Atomic Energy Agency inspector checks the uranium enrichment process inside Iran’s Natanz plant in 2014. The Vatican welcomed the July 14 announcement that Iran would restrict its nuclear program to peaceful purposes, so decades long international sanctions on the nation would be lifted.. (CNS photo/Kazem Ghane, EPA)

An International Atomic Energy Agency inspector checks the uranium enrichment process inside Iran’s Natanz plant in 2014. The Vatican welcomed the July 14 announcement that Iran would restrict its nuclear program to peaceful purposes, so decades long international sanctions on the nation would be lifted.. (CNS photo/Kazem Ghane, EPA)

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said that “the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program is viewed in a positive light by the Holy See.”

“It constitutes an important outcome of the negotiations carried out so far, although continued efforts and commitment on the part of all involved will be necessary in order for it to bear fruit,” he said in a written statement in response to reporters’ questions July 14.

“It is hoped that those fruits will not be limited to the field of nuclear program, but may indeed extend further,” he said, without specifying what other areas of progress the Vatican hoped to see.

Hours after the deal was announced, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace also welcomed the agreement in a letter to members of the U.S. Congress.

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, encouraged the lawmakers to “support these efforts to build bridges that foster peace and greater understanding” and said it signaled progress in global nuclear weapons nonproliferation.

“We hope that the full implementation of the agreement will gradually foster an environment in which all parties build mutual confidence and trust so that progress will be made toward greater stability and dialogue in the region,” the letter said. “In that spirit, our committee will continue to urge Congress to endorse the result of these intense negotiations because the alternative leads toward armed conflict, an outcome of profound concern to the church.”

Under the new deal, decades-long sanctions by the United States, European Union and the United Nations eventually would be lifted in exchange for an agreement by Iran to restrict its nuclear program to peaceful purposes.

The negotiations involved Iran and what is often referred to as the “P5+1,” or the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States —plus Germany.

The U.S. Congress and Iranian authorities would still need to review the agreement.

In January and in April, Pope Francis had expressed hopes that negotiations would end in an agreement. In his Easter message April 5, he said he hoped preliminary talks then underway would “be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world.”

 

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