Our website is being upgraded and may show errors while we work. Please check back in a few hours.
Week of January 29, 2018


This week the Holy See Mission delivered 1 statement at the UN.

Strategies for Eradicating Poverty to Achieve Sustainable Development for All

Commission for Social Development

On February 1, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, gave a statement during the 56th Session of the Commission for Social Development on Agenda Item 3(a) dedicated to “Strategies for Eradicating Poverty to Achieve Sustainable Development for All.”

In his intervention, Archbishop Auza said that eradicating poverty is the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the center of all the efforts of the Commission for Social Development. Sustainable Development, he said, cannot refer chiefly to long-term maintenance of benefits for developed nations but must be directed primarily toward including the poor in receiving and growing those fruits. Exclusion and inequality, he stated, are among the foremost causes of poverty and therefore social participation — through employment, health, social protection — is one of the greatest remedies. The elimination of the exclusion that leads to poverty is also an important part of the solution to the challenges of war and conflict, environmental degradation, the refugee and migration crisis, and the phenomenon of human trafficking.

The statement can be found here.


Holy See Hosts Conference on the
Peace Process in Colombia

On February 2, in Conference Room 6 of the United Nations, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN sponsored a side-event entitled “Reconciliation and Peace in Colombia: Confidence-Building Developments and Continuing Challenges,” together with the Permanent Mission of Colombia to the UN, Caritas Internationalis, the Catholic Peacebuilding Network, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

This was in follow-up to an event held October 20 by same sponsors, soon after the September 6-11 visit of Pope Francis to Colombia.  

Panelists had a hopeful tone about the implementation of the Colombian Peace Agreement, despite the ongoing violence and difficulties. The panelists spoke optimistically of the political will for peace in Colombia and a general desire to move forwards.  

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, encouraged Colombians to embark on the long journey to peace together, reiterating the advice given by Pope Francis during his September trip to Colombia.

“Peace will be achieved not just by normative frameworks and institutional agreement from the top down,” Archbishop Auza said, “but also the change that comes from below.” Colombians are called, he said, echoing the Pope, “to avoid the temptation to vengeance and offer forgiveness for past wrongs.”

This difficult undertaking will help supplant the culture of violence, a challenging task that is supported by the Church and many Catholic institutions.

Ambassador María Emma Mejía Velez, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the UN, said the current and historic presence of the Church has helped the country immensely. “When the state did not have even the minimal institutions present in rural areas, a priest was always there.”

 “It is easier to construct peace than to implement it,” she emphasized.

Joseph Cornelius Donnelly, Head of Delegation of Caritas Internationalis and moderator of the event, said that implementation is not primarily political. Rather, it is for the sake of the 55 million Colombians who worry about life tomorrow and the next year.

“We have to have mutual confidence to take steps forward.”

Archbishop Luis Castro Quiroga, Archbishop of Tunja and former President of the Colombian Bishops Conference, said that the Church is striving to use its presence to help facilitate dialogue between the Colombian government and the rebel groups.

“The role of the Church in the negotiation process has been important given its impartiality, ability to maintain dialogue, knowledge of the conflict in Colombia, and presence in the territories,” he explained. “Peace is not just ending a war, but also building a new country.”

Msgr. Héctor Fabio Henao, President of the National Council for Peace, Reconciliation, and Coexistence, described the inclusion of members from all sectors of society as key to this work.

“It includes those who have always been invisible,” he said, “and generates spaces for permanent dialogue between citizens and institutions.”
Msgr. Henao also stressed the importance of transforming the culture. After fifty years of war, it is time to move from a culture of violence to a culture of peace.
Professor David Cortright, Director of Peace Accords Matrix and Policy Studies at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, shared positive insights from a report issued November 16 by the Institute on the headway of peace implementation in Colombia.

“The disarmament process has been remarkable,” he said, “which is a necessary first step for medium and long-term progress.”

“The peace process is more important than politics,” he said in anticipation of Parliamentary and Presidential elections to take place later this year.
There was a vigorous 40-minute question and answer period in which the panelists described in great depth the history of the Peace Process until now and the obstacles that remain, in particular the status of negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN).

To view the event in its entirety, please click here.




Religious Groups Work to Eradicate Extreme Poverty
Through Social Cohesion


Social inclusion is key for tackling economic exclusion, according to Catholic religious leaders at a January 30 event sponsored by nine different NGOs tied to Catholic religious congregations and co-sponsored by the Holy See Mission.
The event was entitled “Connecting Development and Human Rights in the Eradication of Extreme Poverty: Strategies for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda,” and explored among other things the question of human rights and the work of religious organizations in combatting extreme poverty globally.
The event took place during Fifty-Sixth Session of the Commission for Social Development, which focused on the priority theme of “strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all.”
Sister Justice Gitanjali Senapati, UN Representative of the Congregations of St. Joseph, who helped moderate the event, began with a moment of silence in honor of the more than 700 million people throughout the world living under $1.90 a day, which is the definition of extreme poverty for the World Bank.
Monsignor Tomasz Grysa, First Counselor of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, said, on behalf of Archbishop Auza, that religious communities play an essential role in ensuring the sustainable development agenda is implemented ethically. The development agenda is sometimes manipulated in order to push radical social agendas with regard to human sexuality, abortion, family structure and even basic anthropology in exchange for providing development assistance, he said, a practice that Pope Francis has called “ideological colonization.”
“Just like anything good can be misused, if we exclude from our deliberations these deeper questions about the why-behind-the-what of sustainable development, then the enormous international developmental infrastructure could end up actually being used in some circumstances to undermine the very development and peace they were designed to advance,” he said. “It’s essential for religious leaders, communities and believers — like so many represented today — to help provide, with courage and perseverance, what we could call the “soul” or “conscience” of the sustainable development agenda.”
The panelists suggested that communities with strong social cohesion are proven to catalyze sustainable development while respecting the dignity of every human person.
Father John Rausch, an economist and missionary who works with impoverished Appalachian communities in Kentucky and Virginia, emphasized that authentic development is not merely limited to access to essentials like food, clothing, and water, and shelter but also a sense of belonging.
“My work is the development of people,” he said. “It also entails promoting belonging to something that is going to propel them into a better life.”
Marina El Khoury, UN Representative for Franciscans International, who helped facilitate discussion, said community-based cooperatives need to be a major strategy in economic development.
“They put the person at the heart of what poverty eradication really means,” she said.
In Southeast Asia, the Sisters of Charity close this gap by promoting economic and human developmental needs through community based cooperatives that provide skills training and microloans within the community. Their UN Representative, Sister Teresa Kotturan, shared the journey of a women named Sabitri, who joined the women’s cooperative run by the Sisters of Charity, learned beekeeping and secured a loan to buy a small house. She taught her trade to her husband and he trained her in running his mushroom farm, and the symbiotic skills enabled their family to become among the most successful farmers in Nepal.
“The most important part is accompanying the people,” Sister Kotturan said. “We accompany them so that they themselves can be the decision makers, and they can take their destiny into their own hands.”
Sister Elsa Muttathu, a Presentation Sister of the Blessed Virgin Mary, shared a short video documentary that highlights the successes of 24 Zambian families her community serves through village based cooperatives. The sisters promote not only economic wellbeing, but sustainable practices that respect the environment and lifelong learning. For example, if a tree needs to be cut for any reason, families must replace it with two trees. Another requirement is that for families to receive land on the cooperative, their children are required to receive an education.
For many countries, deeply rooted cultural biases can be hurdles for economic advancement.
Father Ajaya Kumar Singh serves India’s communities as the Director of Odisha Regional Forum for Social Action in India, and said that while the country has many policies that promote economic development, the society’s caste system prevents the implementation of many of these policies.  He stressed the need for social and cultural cohesion as key for human development.
“You cannot speak only from the perspective of economics,” he said. “It is a question of human dignity, human rights and human respect.”





Upcoming Events


Dimensions of Dialogue: Expanding Social Media as a
Space for Constructive Encounter for Young People

10 a.m. - 1 p.m. | February 8 | Conference Room 12

The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See is co-sponsoring this event together with the KAICIID Dialogue Center, UNICEF, and the Permanent Missions of Austria, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and Jordan to the United Nations.

To register, please click here.


Ending the Detention of Migrant Children:
Best Interest Determination and Alternatives to Detention

1:15 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. | February 21 | UNHQ Conference Room 12

RSVP by February 18 at holyseemission.org/rsvp21February2018


Preventing the Trafficking of Rural Women and Girls:
Integrating Inherent Dignity into a human Rights Model

1:15 - 2:30 p.m. | March 13 | UNHQ Conference Room 1

RSVP by March 7 at holyseemission.org/rsvp13March2018


Integral Education of Rural Women and Girls
3 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. | March 15 | UNHQ Conference Room 11

RSVP by March 7 at holyseemission.org/rsvp15March2018


Promoting the Integral Development of Rural Women and Girls in Africa under the Threat of Ideological Colonization
11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. | March 19 | UNHQ Conference Room 4

RSVP by March 13 at holyseemission.org/RSVP19March2018


No Room in Rural Villages, Cities or Homes for the Disabled?
Are Boys and Girls with Down Syndrome Being Left Behind?

1:15 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. | March 20 | UNHQ Conference Room 12

RSVP by March 13 at holyseemission.org/rsvp20March2018



Affirming the Human Dignity of Rural Women and Girls
through Healthcare and Education

3:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. | March 22 | UNHQ Conference Room 11

RSVP by March 13 at holyseemission.org/rsvp22March2018



Upholding Human Dignity for Migrants and Refugees, From Principles to Practice:
Faith Based Organizations and the Global Compacts
1:15-2:30 | May 3, 2018 | UNHQ Conference Room 4

RSVP by April 30 at holyseemission.org/rsvp3May2018