Vatican delegate to UN calls for total disarmament

 Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for the Holy See's Relations with States, appealed for "total disarmament" during his speech at Wednesday's general debate of the 59th session of the United Nations General Assembly. This was the first time the Holy See has spoken at the UN since the Resolution of July 1 which formalized and specified its status as a Permanent Observer. Archbishop Lajolo began by speaking about the current situation in which "hundreds of millions of human beings, survive - as best they can - below the threshold of what is necessary, as well as tens of millions of undernourished children unjustly deprived of the right to live." He said the world "must find a lasting solution to these inhumane conditions, ... progressing, under the aegis of the UN towards a more flexible and more just international trade system." For peace to occur in the world, continued the archbishop, there must be total and general disarmament. "The problem of weapons of mass destruction is clearly to be distinguished from that of conventional weapons; but the latter have a terrible and unending contemporary relevance in the numerous armed conflicts that stain the world with blood, and also in terrorism." On the theme of regional armed conflicts, Archbishop Lajolo highlighted the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iraq conflict and various African countries. He said: "The Catholic Church, present in Palestine for 2,000 years, invites everyone to turn their backs on any action likely to destroy confidence, and to utter generous words of peace and make bold gestures of peace. And if peace is the fruit of justice, let it not be forgotten ... that there can be no justice without forgiveness. Indeed, without mutual forgiveness. This clearly requires greater moral courage than the use of arms." On Iraq, the archbishop affirmed that "the Holy See believes it is now imperative to support the present Government in its efforts to bring the country to normality and to a political system that is substantially democratic and in harmony with the values of its historic traditions." He underscored how the African countries of Sudan, Somalia, those in the Great Lakes region and the Ivory coast are "scarred by bloodshed arising from mutual conflicts and even more from internal strife. They need active international solidarity, ... and the African Union needs to intervene authoritatively so as to bring all legitimate interested parties around a negotiating table." He said: "I have mentioned the theme of terrorism, an aberrant phenomenon, utterly unworthy of man, which has already assumed global dimensions: today no State can presume to be safe from it. Hence, without prejudice to the right and duty of each State to implement just measures to protect its citizens and its institutions, it seems obvious that terrorism can only be effectively challenged through a concerted multilateral approach, respecting the 'ius gentium', and not through the politics of unilateralism." Concluding remarks were dedicated to the theme of fundamental human rights, foremost among which is the right to life and that of freedom of religion. Archbishop Lajolo said that "in reality, such fundamental human rights stand or fall together. And man stands or falls with them. For this reason - in the view of the Holy See - every effort has to be made to defend them in all fields. For this to happen, one particular danger must be avoided, which is found today in various countries and social settings. It is the idea that these fundamental human rights, as sanctioned by the (1948) Universal Declaration (of Human Rights), are expressions of a particular culture and are therefore highly relative." Source: VIS

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