Strengthening Multilateralism and the
Role of the United Nations
On November 9, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, gave an intervention during the Security Council Open Debate on “Strengthening Multilateralism and the Role of the United Nations.”
In his statement, Archbishop Auza addressed what the Secretary-General said was a “trust deficit disorder” in political institutions across the world and in cooperation among nations. Giving the example of the paralysis being experienced in disarmament efforts, Archbishop Auza said that multilateralism cannot be constructed on the threat of mutual annihilation or on maintaining present balances of power. What’s needed, he said, is justice, integral human development, respect for fundamental human rights, the participation of all in public life, and other public goods. The United Nations has a crucial role in rebuilding trust among its members. For multilateralism to work, conflicts must be resolved through the force of law, not the law of force, and every State must promote that force of just law in a genuine spirit of multilateralism. Multilateralism also requires shared responsibility and solidarity with those who are poor and oppressed.
The statement can be found here.
Effects of Atomic Radiation
On November 6, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, gave an intervention during the Fourth Committee deliberations of the Seventy-third Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Agenda Item 52, dedicated to the “Effects of Atomic Radiation.”
In his statement, Archbishop Auza said that the recently concluded 65th session of the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), focusing on the nuclear accidents in Chernobyl and Fukushima, show that the use of nuclear energy, even for peaceful purposes, always has risks, something magnified when nuclear energy is weaponized. He praised UNSCEAR’s cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization to provide data about the impact of atomic radiation on persons and the environment.
The statement can be found here.
Practical Solutions to
Eradicate Human Trafficking
On November 9, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, gave opening remarks during a conference entitled “Practical Solutions to Eradicate Human Trafficking,” sponsored by the Permanent Observer Mission of the Sovereign Order of Malta, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See, the Permanent Missions of Ireland, Liechtenstein, the Philippines, the International Labour Organization, and the Santa Marta Group.
In his remarks, Archbishop Auza situated the fight against human trafficking within the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which insists that “no one shall be held in slavery or servitude.” Despite that international commitment, he said, 40 million people are ensnared in modern slavery. He said despite various important international commitments, the number of those enslaved for sexual exploitation, forced labor and organ harvesting continues to skyrocket. These commitments must be made truly effective, he added. He said we must become more practical, even ruthless, in addressing the drivers of human trafficking, particularly addiction to money or to sex; to increase the number and length of programs for rehabilitation and reintegration of survivors; to challenge and assist law enforcement to overcome the widespread practical impunity for traffickers and trafficking networks; and to promote partnerships of solidarity to combat the organized crime and corruption that make trafficking possible and profitable. Our efforts, he concluded, must be commensurate to the challenges we face — and become ever more practical.
The statement can be found here.
Meet Our Missionaries
Fr. David Paul Charters, pictured above with children from the Central African Republic (CAR), joined the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the UN in September at the start of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly, where he has been covering the Security Council along with the First (Disarmament) and Fourth Committees (Special Political Questions). This is Fr. Charters' second assignment in the Diplomatic Corps of the Holy See, after serving in the Central African Republic for four years. In this interview, he shares about his background and experiences and how he thinks they will impact his work at the Mission.
Q: What is your family background?
I was born in 1974 in the Northwest of England into a not-particularly-practicing Catholic family, although my dad is Church of England. I was baptized as a baby by tradition, although I made my First Holy Communion by choice. I made the choice to be catechized and go to Mass on Sunday while the rest of my family didn’t. One Sunday morning at the age of 11, I heard the bells ringing and I realized I should be at Mass. I had to behave well during the week or else my parents wouldn’t let me go to Mass on Sundays. I would talk about the things I learned from Catechism class and my brother would tease me. But they are supportive now!
Q: What drew you to the priesthood?
The short answer is the priests I met and the liturgy, particularly the celebration of Mass, drew me to the priesthood. I realized I had received a great gift and wanted to help others appreciate the gift of faith, the gift of prayer, the gift of a relationship with Christ.
Q: How were you serving as a priest before this assignment?
I was ordained at the age of 33 and was working as an associate pastor in Altrincham, England (in my home diocese of Shrewsbury) for three years doing a lot of adult faith formation, which I really loved. Then one day, my Bishop approached me with a request to resume studies in Rome with a view to working for the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See. Quite the surprise, let me tell you! I knew it existed, but it was just not on my radar. I didn’t think normal priests went there. After studying there three years, I got my assignment from Archbishop Becciu (then Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State), and the first thing he told me was that I was going to a very difficult country and asked how my French was. I was assigned to the Central African Republic. I must confess, I didn’t even know the name of capital city, yet how quickly that place would become the center of my life. The capital of Bangui fell into the hands of rebels at the end of March 2013, just weeks after Pope Francis was elected, so it was probably one of his first international crises. When I arrived there in August 2014, the situation was still volatile and the conflict was still ongoing. There were many areas in the city we couldn't go to and often we could not go outside.
The Pope came to the Central African Republic in 2015, so a good part of my second year in the Central African Republic was spent planning for his visit. The situation was very tense; nobody could really see a way out. The Pope came and his visit kind of “burst the abscess," and it was a great example of what papal diplomacy is about - his presence, his actions, his gestures.
Q: Can you share some highlights about the Pope's visit to the Central African Republic?
Three things struck me from that visit. We went to greet him at the airport, and the people were taking off their robes and putting them on the ground in front of his car. They were running with palm leaves. It was like Palm Sunday. Everywhere the Pope's car went, people were there. There was no empty space.
The second thing is something I noticed while I was serving him a drink at lunch. His white cassock was covered from the marks of children’s hands. He had quite literally allowed himself be touched. This was a clear sign that that the Pope had come to be at one with their suffering. He even spent a night in the capital, which was very significant because until then, no major Head of State or international figure had spent more than a few hours when visiting Bangui.
The third thing, was the Pope's visit to the mosque. There had been tension between Christians and Muslims since the start of the war, and so, in the light of the security situation, someone had suggested that a delegation of Muslims should visit the Nunciature and greet the Pope there. Pope Francis had other ideas! His visit to the CAR would have been incomplete without going to the 3rd district of Bangui, and so he went to the mosque, as planned. Then he and the Imam went around the streets of that neighborhood in the Pope mobile and people of both religions were following behind singing and cheering before heading to the Stadium where the final Mass was to be celebrated. Up until that day, people had been afraid to go into certain neighborhoods and now the barriers had been broken down. There was a diplomat there who said that day felt like the falling of the Berlin Wall. There really was a sense of peace for the few months after that.
Things are still moving forward, and there have been setbacks But the Pope's visit, I would say was a massive sign and a catalyst for change. A couple of weeks later, they were able to vote on a constitution and then followed fair and transparent elections.
Q: What does your work at the Mission entail and how do you like the work so far?
This is my second assignment. It was a big surprise when I found out I was coming here. I felt both excited and daunted. I cover the Security Council and the First (Disarmament) and Fourth Committees (Special Political Questions).
“It's a whole new ball game” — to use the American expression — going from one country and how its connected to the world in its transition from war to peace and stability and now looking at the whole world and looking at other situations in need of assistance on the path to peace. I suppose both experiences in different ways have shown me how important the diplomatic service of the Holy See is and how great it is that we have our place at that table at the family of nations to be able to speak the message that is inspired by our faith and our belief in humanity. We can share what it means to be human and what it means to try and create an environment in which people can live a fully human life. The Mission here tries to, as far as possible, translate the pastoral concerns of the Pope, be it questions about migration, climate change, or peace and security, particularly for those countries that are forgotten and are on the peripheries.
I found a dynamic and inspiring team here with great support that helps me to embrace and find a certain fulfillment in the work, even if it is light years away from the experience of the last four years and of how I ever envisaged my life as a priest.
Q: What is your impression of New York?
Somebody said to me, when I got the assignment, that it’s like a cold shower followed by a hot shower; it’s a jump from one extreme to the other. To give you an example, in the Central African Republic, there are only about 200 miles of roads in a country the size of Texas, so the rest is dirt tracks with two or three restaurants in Bangui. No theatres, no functioning museum. I had gone from a country where I had to look up the name of the capital, to the capital of the world. Of course, I'm not here as a tourist, but I certainly look forward to experiencing the culture the city has to offer.
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