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Week of September 17, 2017

High Level Week

It is the most active week of the year at the United Nations as world leaders gather in New York to highlight their country's priorities at the General Debate, meet with other leaders, and participate in high-level events and dialogues. Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, is representing the Holy See as the Head of the Holy See's Delegation for the 72nd Session of the General Assembly. He will deliver the statement on behalf of Holy See in the General Debate on Monday but has already participated in several debates and dialogues this week. He has also made history this week by signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on behalf of the Holy See.



Holy See Signs and Ratifies Treaty on the Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons

On September 20, 2017, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for the Holy See's Relations with States, signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons for the Holy See and in the name of and behalf of the Holy See at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The Holy See was an active participant in negotiations, and was one of the 122 States that voted in favor of the treaty, adopted on July 7, 2017.  The signing took place during the High Level Ceremony for the opening of the signing of the Treaty, in which the Holy See joined more than 40 states in signing the treaty, and was joined by only Thailand in simultaneously ratifying the  treaty.





Intervention at the Side Event Protection of Religious Minorities in Conflict

On September 22, Archbishop Gallagher gave an address at the Side Event entitled “The Protection of Religious Minorities in Conflict,” sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Hungary to the UN, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN, and the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy.

In his address, Archbishop Gallagher noted that war and conflict regularly provide the backdrop for religious minorities to be targeted for persecution, violence, enslavement, exile, murder, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity. Because of how widespread attacks against religious minorities are, their protection, he said, must be one of the most urgent responsibilities of the international community and must extend to examining and eradicating the root causes of that persecution. He listed several essential elements needed to protect religious minorities: a need for action and not just words; equality before the law, regardless of religion, race or ethnicity, based on the principle of citizenship; mutual autonomy and positive collaboration between religious communities and the State; the condemnation of the abuse of religious belief to justify terrorism against believers of other religions; effective interreligious dialogue as an antidote to fundamentalism; education in general and solid religious education in particular; and blocking the flow of money and weapons to those intending to use them against religious minorities.

The statement can be found here.


High Level Meeting on the Syrian Crisis
Trusteeship Chamber

On September 21, Archbishop Gallagher gave a statement at the High-level Meeting on the Syrian crisis organization by the Delegation of the European Union to the United States.

In his address, Archbishop Gallagher, on behalf of Pope Francis, praised and thanked all those who are working for a political solution and to care for the victims of the Syrian conflict. He said that a credible, mutually agreed, intra-Syrian political solution supported by the international community is essential to a durable peace and insisted on humanitarian workers’ having rapid, safe and unhindered access to care for the millions of people deprived of essential goods and services. He noted that in 2016-7, the Holy See and the Catholic Church have provided $200 million of humanitarian assistance to more than 4.6 million Syrians, regardless of ethnic or religious identity, and called for increased funding for refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. He also called for the protection of the rights of all Syrians on the basis of the principle of citizenship.

His statement can be found here.


Tenth Conference to Facilitate the Entry into Force of the
Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

On September 20, Archbishop Gallagher gave a statement during the Tenth Conference to Facilitate the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

In his intervention, Archbishop Gallagher said that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is a cornerstone of the necessary juridical structures to control the threat of nuclear weapons and lead to their abolition. The Holy See ratified the CTBT as an expression of its conviction of the importance of a nuclear test ban and nuclear nonproliferation and as a critical complement to broad nuclear disarmament efforts. He lamented that the CTBT has not yet entered into force and urged those States that have not yet ratified it to exercise wisdom and courage in doing so. He said that the CTBT’s entry into force is particularly urgent considering rising tensions over North Korea’s growing nuclear program and the new modernization programs happening in nuclear states. The response to the situation in North Korea, he said, must be revived in negotiations, and must not happen through threats or the use of military force or nuclear weapons.  Nuclear arms, he said, give a false sense of security. The threat of mutually assured destruction cannot create a stable and secure world. It fosters at most a precarious and false peace based on a culture of fear and mistrust. That culture must be replaced with an ethic of responsibility and a climate of trust and cooperation, something that the entry into force of the CTBT will help to achieve.

The statement can be found here.


Ministerial Level Meeting on the
Central African Republic

On September 19, Archbishop Gallagher gave an intervention during a closed ministerial-level meeting on the Central African Republic (CAR).

In his statement, Archbishop Gallagher said the Holy See was greatly concerned about the worsening of the conflict in the CAR and said that more effective action in protecting civilians, regardless of religion or rank, is necessary to promote impartiality and increase trust. Peacekeepers must prioritize security for all and the restoration of peace. He appealed to the UN’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic [MINUSCA] to defend the dignity of defenseless women and children. He noted the importance of the support of the international community in helping to promote the structures of democracy and development, especially the rule of law and access to education and health. He also called the political forces within the country to sincere dialogue, which must involve a ceasefire, the disarming of armed groups and reintegration into society, justice for victims, and the guaranteed return of both Muslim and Christian migrants and refugees, and reiterated the Catholic Church’s commitment to that dialogue.

His statement can be found here.


A Call to Action to End Forced Labour,
Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking

On September 19, Archbishop Gallagher gave an intervention during a High Level Leaders Event hosted by Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom, entitled “A Call to Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.”

In his statement, Archbishop Gallagher gave a short history of the Holy See’s involvement in the fight against modern slavery and stated that ending forced labor, trafficking in persons and all forms of modern slavery is one of the defining priorities of Pope Francis’ papacy. He highlighted the collaboration of the Catholic Church with the British Government to eradicate this scourge. He mentioned in particular the Santa Marta Group, an international collaboration of bishops and law enforcement officials. He also underlined the work of Catholic institutions and organizations, especially women’s religious orders, in liberating people from situations of bondage. He said that the global nature of the crimes of modern slavery require an equally global response of fraternity, solidarity and collaboration.

His statement can be found here.


Archbishop Gallagher Honors Holy See
Supporters and Friends

On September 21, Archbishop Gallagher welcomed friends and supporters of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to a reception at the Holy See residence in order to thank them for helping to make possible the work of the Holy See at the United Nations. Here is a copy of his prepared remarks.
Monsignor Auza,
Dear Friends and Supporters of the Holy See Mission to the United Nations:
I have the privilege and pleasure to convey to you all the prayerful best wishes of Pope Francis.

The Holy Father remains particularly grateful for all the help you have extended and continue to extend to the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations. He appreciates the time and resources, dedication and friendship with which you have been showering this Mission, so that it can fulfill effectively its calling to communicate the bi-millennial experience of the Church to humanity in every age, and to put this experience at the disposal of all the nations and peoples of the world through the United Nations.

The valuable assistance and support you have been giving to this Mission is a participation in the Holy Father’s universal solicitude. In fact, like streams of water from all directions converging into one great river that flows to the sea, you, too, are an integral part of the whole team that works under the guidance and inspiration of our Universal Pastor, who, like a Good Shepherd and Father, seeks to lead us into green pastures and tranquil waters.

How much our world today needs green pastures and tranquil waters! The agony of humanity finds concrete faces and names in those who die and suffer due to armed conflicts; in those who are persecuted and discriminated against because of their faith or ethnic origins; in those who are enslaved by ruthless human traffickers; in those who die from preventable diseases because they are deprived of the most basic health care; in those who live in extreme poverty due to social injustices and economic exclusion. These situations call us to greater heights of solidarity and more persistent prayer.

The Seventy-Second Session of the United Nations General Assembly is dedicated to theme “Focusing on People: Striving for peace and a decent life on a sustainable planet.” We hope that a collective reflection on this theme will lead the United Nations back to its founding raison d’être, articulated so well in the Preamble of the United Nations Charter: “We the Peoples of the United Nations” are “determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war… to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights… to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.”

Focusing on people therefore means protecting them from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, putting them ahead of national and geopolitical interests.

Putting people first therefore means protecting, at every stage and in every circumstance, the fundamental right to life, from which all other rights flow.

Focusing on people therefore means, in the words of the Second Vatican Council, making our own “the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men [and women] of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted,” because “nothing genuinely human” should fail to raise an echo in our hearts.
This is the meaning of our Lord’s command Duc in altum, to cast the net further into the deep, to push ourselves further to the peripheries and bring those in the peripheries to the center; to reach the fringes of the suffering humanity; to get bruised and dirtied with the situations of extreme want; to have our conscience disturbed by the plight of the excluded and the exploited, of the outcasts and the leftovers of our throwaway culture.

Dear Friends,

I know that the Holy See Mission to the United Nations has been actively participating in the discussions on these huge international concerns. Thanks also to your expertise, your financial support and constant encouragement, the Mission has been able to organize and sponsor conferences and other events in order to raise greater awareness on these issues of deep concern for the Holy Father and for the whole Church.  These activities are expressions of the Holy Father’s and the Church’s passionate solicitude for the voiceless and excluded. These are also concrete ways of collaborating with and influencing the United Nations.
Dear friends,

For all the good you do and all the support you give this Mission, I want to say a sincere thank you! In the name of the Holy Father, I pray that God bless you and your loved ones!

Archbishop Gallagher Thanks Mission
Staff and Experts

On September 20, Archbishop Gallagher had lunch with the staff and experts of the Mission, during which he gave the following words of gratitude.

Monsignor Auza,
Members of the Staff, Experts, Interns and Friends of this Mission:
Pope Francis visited this Mission two years ago. He is unable to come this time, so he asked me to bring you his prayerful greetings and best wishes!

The Holy Father is fully aware of how much time and effort, dedication and love you put into your daily work, to make this Mission faithful to its calling to communicate the millennial experience of the Catholic Church to humanity in every age, and to put this experience at the disposal of the United Nations. This overarching goal of the Holy See’s diplomacy and its ramifications in Catholic Social Teaching dovetail with the four pillars of the United Nations as enshrined in its Charter: peace and security, human rights, the rule of law, and development. Thus, the Holy See attaches great importance to the United Nations and hopes that its activities may indeed uplift all and leave no one behind.

Seen from this perspective, the diplomatic activity of the Holy See is a ministry and task carried out in the secular world by the Church and in the name of the Church. While you work on behalf and for the Holy Father, you also work and represent the Church. And that’s why, I’ve heard, Monsignor Auza requires exemplary behavior at all times!
To fulfill this responsibility, you are called constantly “to scrutinize the signs of the time and interpret them in the light of the Gospel” (GS4). This beautiful expression from the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes signals the Church’s openness to the world and its deepest bonds with everything that pertains to the human person. Pope Francis asks you to embrace “integral ecology” as the locus of this challenging yet exciting call to “scrutinize the signs of the time.”
You are therefore called to practice a diplomacy that is pastoral and spiritual at the same time. To many, spirituality and diplomacy don’t mix and may even sound contradictory. Some people think of diplomacy as the art of lying cynically for the sake of the interest of one’s country, or as a series of elegant receptions of caviar and champagne!  Diplomacy, especially for us, is the art of dialogue, of encounter, of finding solutions together to common problems. This is the kind of diplomacy that Pope Francis wants.
The Holy Father’s emphasis on the “culture of encounter” is congenial to the work you do. He asks you to make this value the golden thread that ties together all aspects of your work and inspires your mission “to scrutinize the signs of the times” and analyze the circumstances in which humanity finds itself today. This brings me back to Gaudium et spes, whose celebrated opening sentence should be the wellspring of the motivations and inspiration that you need in your daily work: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.”
With his strong, even provocative, words and actions on the great questions and challenges facing our world today, like violent conflicts and forced migrations, Pope Francis invites you to do the same, to make your own the joys and sorrows of the people of today.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to convey to you the appreciation of the Holy Father and of the Apostolic See for your valuable work in assisting this Mission in its work with the United Nations.  Since you are called to share in the universal ministry of Peter, I would urge you to strive every day to be more and more like a “small Church” modelled after the universal Church, the Body of Christ, in which every member has its own mission to accomplish and the health of the body depends on all organs working together.

I wish you all success in your specific fields of expertise and as a member of this great Team!

God bless you all!




World Leaders Call for Protection of Persecuted Religious Minorities at
Holy See Event

On September 22, the Holy See sponsored a side event entitled “Protection of Religious Minorities in Conflict,” together with the Permanent Observer Mission of Hungary to the UN and the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy.
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States, said protecting religious minorities is one of the most urgent responsibilities of the international community, since recent data shows severe violations against religious freedom are occurring in 27 countries around the world.
“The need to focus on safeguarding religious minorities in situations of war and conflict arises from the revolting reality that, as all of us have seen in the last several years in various blood-drenched parts of the world, war and conflict often provide the backdrop for religious minorities to be targeted for persecution,” Archbishop Gallagher said, adding that persecution often includes physical and sexual violence, enslavement, murder, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity.
Archbishop Gallagher said the local and international community must assist not only in supplying material needs, but also in finding solutions to the root causes, through education, interreligious dialogue, and eradicating the use religious beliefs to justify terrorism.
“It is not enough to rebuild homes, which is a crucial step,” he said. “What is also needed is to rebuild society by laying the foundations for peaceful coexistence.”
He also noted that it is important that governments take responsibility in stopping the flow of money and weapons that are used to target religious minorities.
“Stopping atrocities not only involves addressing the hatred and cancers of the heart that spawn violence but also removing the instruments by which that hatred actually carries out that violence,” he said.
H.E. Peter Szijjarto, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said protecting religious minorities is a priority of his country, especially in the Middle East, where Christian communities have been destroyed by terrorist groups, especially in Iraq in Syria, noting that four out of five people killed or persecuted for their religious beliefs throughout the world are Christian.

In addition to the gruesome human rights atrocities ISIS has committed against Christians, they are robbing the region of its historical roots and cultural heritage by destroying churches built as early as the fifth century, he said. Hungary is financing projects to improve the lives of the persecuted Christians,  he added, as well as to rebuild their places of worship.
“The goal of ISIS is clearly to eliminate Christians from the Middle East as if they have never existed there,” he said. “We want to make sure it is shown very clearly that these religious groups not only have a past and present in this region, but a future as well.”
Ambassador Katalin Bogyay, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the UN, moderated the panel discussion. She said that while states have an important role in protecting religious minorities, they must work with religious groups, including the Catholic Church, who are important actors in caring for those persecuted for their beliefs and building a culture of dialogue and respect.
“Mutual acceptance and respect is the real goal,” Ambassador Bogyay said.
Drawing a comparison between the martyrs of the ancient Roman empire and those facing gruesome persecution and even death, Ambassador Teodoro Lopez Loscin, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the UN, said  that “violent extremists can have no seat at the table of civilization.”
“Violence won’t do it,” he said. “It is only with decency that one religion can live beside other religions.”
He also said that governments need to respect minority religious minorities by enforcing fair legislation that enables its citizens to practice their faith of heritage or choice freely.
“There is no political circumstance that permits an exception to the justly deserved condemnation of religious intolerance, but there are historical precedents that show civilizations obtaining their peak by practicing tolerance.”
Mark Donfried, Director of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, said that a modern form of cultural diplomacy is required to combat persecution of minority religious groups. He said this includes empowering citizens by educating them and enhancing relationships between people of different faiths, cultures and countries.
“It wasn’t missiles or tanks that brought the Berlin Wall down,” he said. “It was its citizens.”
Religion is an important component to cultural diplomacy, he said, stressing the need for cultural diplomacy to include reciprocated genuine dialogue between followers of different faith traditions.
“We need to build trust, not just through speaking, but through listening to each other in a humble way,” he said. “God gave us two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

To read Archbishop Gallagher's remarks, please click here.
To watch the event in its entirety, click here.





Upcoming Events


Implementing "The Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence that Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes"
Monday, September 25, 2017 | 3-5 p.m.
Conference Room 11, United Nations Headquarters
Registration is closed.