Pope pitches for global unity at UN
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In a major address to the UN General Assembly, Pope Benedict XVI called on the international community to use “international instruments” such as the UN to address global problems.
UNITED NATIONS, April 18 (Reuters) - Countries that act
unilaterally on the world stage undermine the authority of the
United Nations and weaken the broad consensus needed to
confront global problems, Pope Benedict said on Friday.
In a major speech to the U.N. General Assembly, the pope
also said that the international community sometimes had to
intervene when a country could not protect its own people from
"grave and sustained violations of human rights."
The pope, who arrived from Washington on the second leg of
a U.S. trip, became only the third pontiff in history to
address the General Assembly.
Speaking in French and English from the Assembly's green
marble podium, he gave a wide-ranging address on issues such as
globalization, human rights and the environment.
The international community must be "capable of responding
to the demands of the human family through binding
international rules," said the 81-year-old pope, who spoke
after meeting privately with U.N. Secretary-General Ban
He said the notion of multilateral consensus was "in crisis
because it is still subordinated to the decisions of a few,
whereas the world's problems call for interventions in the form
of collective action by the international community."
While Benedict did not mention any specific country, this
appeared to be a reference to the United States, which led the
2003 invasion of Iraq even though the Security Council refused
to approve it.
The Vatican strongly opposed the recourse to war.
Benedict called for "a deeper search for ways of
pre-empting and managing conflicts by exploring every possible
diplomatic avenue, and giving attention and encouragement to
even the faintest sign of dialogue or desire for
In an apparent reference to the conflict in the Sudanese
region of Darfur, the pope said that every state had the
"primary duty" to protect its citizens from human rights
violations and humanitarian crises but outside intervention was
"If states are unable to guarantee such protection, the
international community must intervene with the juridical means
provided in the United Nations Charter and in other
international instruments," he said.
The pope called human rights, particularly religious
freedom, "the common language and ethical substratum of
international relations," and added that promoting human rights
was the best strategy to eliminate inequalities.
"Indeed, the victims of hardship and despair, whose human
dignity is violated with impunity, become easy prey to the call
to violence, and they can then become violators of peace," he
said in an apparent reference to social causes of terrorism.
Benedict called for religious freedom to be protected
against secularist views and against majority religions that
sideline other faiths -- an apparent reference to Muslim states
where some Christian minorities report discrimination.
"It should never be necessary to deny God in order to enjoy
one's rights," Benedict said.
Later on Friday, the German-born pope was due to visit a
New York synagogue just before the start of the Jewish Passover
He will also visit a Manhattan parish founded by German
immigrants in 1873.
The pope arrived in Washington on Tuesday on his first
visit to the United States as pontiff.
On Thursday, he held a surprise meeting with victims of
sexual abuse by priests in an effort to heal scars from a
scandal that deeply tarnished the Catholic Church in the United
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