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2018 Year in Review

The Holy See Mission striving for peace in 2018

Thank you for your interest in the work of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN in New York as we strive to uphold and fight for the dignity of every human being and advance peace and justice across the international community. Since there are no meetings at the United Nations after Christmas, we would like to take the opportunity to share our "Year in Review" to highlight the work of the Holy See Mission in 2018.


This year the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN delivered 100 interventions. Archbishop Auza gave 85; Archbishop Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States and Head of the Holy See's Delegation for the High Level Week of the General Debate of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly, 10; and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Head of the Delegation of the Holy See to the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakech, Morocco and the 24th Session of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-24) in Katowice, Poland, gave five.

Here they are, with links to the individual statements:

Archbishop Paul Gallagher

Secretary of Relations with States

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States led the Holy See's Delegation for the High Level Week of the General Debate of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly in September. This 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 during the General Debate, meet with other leaders, and participate in high-level events and dialogues. Archbishop Gallagher delivered 10 statements on behalf of the Holy See, including at the General Debate.


Global Compact on Migrations

Throughout the year, the Holy See has been actively participating in the negotations for the first Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). In December, the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was held in Marrakech, Morocco. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Holy See Secretary of State, attended the Conference and served as Head of Delegation. He gave delivered four interventions in Marrakech.


United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-24)

On December 3, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, delivered a statement at the High Level Segment of the 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change being held in Katowice, Poland (COP-24).

In his intervention, Cardinal Parolin said that the fundamental purpose of the Katowice meeting is to develop the Paris Agreement Work Programme aimed at the difficult, complex and urgent task of facilitating fair and efficient implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Cardinal Parolin is pictured below with the Holy See delegation to COP-24, including Archbishop Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN.



In 2018, the Holy Mission sponsored 16 events at the UN. Some of the highlights of those conferences are listed below:

Standing with Women in Africa • On March 19, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN co-sponsored a side event entitled "Promoting the Integral Development of Rural Women and Girls in Africa in the Era of Ideological Colonization? together with Campaign Life Coalition, Culture of Life Africa and Human Life International during the 62nd Session of the Commission of the Status of Women. It was an opportunity to listen to African women to discuss their needs and how the international development community has not met them.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, echoed the words of Pope Francis in his 2015 Address to the UN General Assembly, in which he indicated that the need for development in Africa and other developing countries can sometimes be used for abuse and corruption, or what the Pope called ‘ideological colonization’. In the last 20 years, there has been a shift in foreign aid budgets from development aid for education, health, water supply, sanitation and other essential needs to population control programs.

Uplifted by People with Down Syndrome • On March 20, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN held a side event during the Commission on the Status of Women entitled No Room in Rural Villages, Cities or Homes for the Disabled? Are Boys and Girls with Down Syndrome Being Left Behind? in collaboration the Center for Family and Human Rights, the Pujols Family Foundation, the Jerome Lejeune Foundation, and the newly released film Summer in the Forest. The event was held in light of World Down Syndrome Day, which the UN General Assembly in 2011 decreed to be celebrated March 21, or 3-21 in numerals, for its scientific name Trisomy-21.

Minnesota-born Mikayla Holmgren, 23, recently made headlines as the first person with the Down Syndrome to compete in a Miss USA Pageant, and won the Spirit of Miss USA Award.

“I did not win the crown, but I won so much more,” she said. “I was able to show the world that people with Down Syndrome have beauty that starts from the inside out.”

Finding Alternatives for Child Migrants • Migration experts and international leaders at a Holy See event call for an end to criminalizing child migrants and refugees through detention.

On February 21, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN, together with Caritas Internationalis, the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), the Center for Migration Studies (CMS), and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), hosted an event entitled, Ending the Detention of Migrant and Refugee Children: Best Interest Determination and Alternatives to Detention. The event took place at UN Headquarters during the first of six week-long negotiation sessions on the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration occurring over the next six months.

The goal of the event was to shed light on the best practices used as alternatives to detaining refugee and migrant children so that these practices may be scaled up and replicated elsewhere.

Eradicating Human Trafficking • Partnerships are required to end human trafficking, according to experts at a May 22 Holy See sponsored Event at the United Nations entitled, The Santa Marta Group: Police and Religious Leaders Partnering to Eradicate Modern Slavery by Building Trust in Leadership, Action and Accountability. Co-sponsored by the the Santa Marta Group, the event highlighted the results borne from the fruitful relationship between faith-based groups and law enforcement.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Santa Marta Group, said that the keystone principle of the group is upholding the human dignity of each person, and keeping the victim at the center of their work. In its four years, the Group has expanded to include partnerships between police and religious group in 34 countries. He attributed the Santa Marta Group's success not merely to its international reach, but to the quality of personal relationships at the local levels.

Thirty-Second Annual Prayer Service • On September 17, a crowd of more than 300 diplomats, religious leaders, UN personnel, and members of the general public gathered at the Church of the Holy Family for the Prayer Service to mark the opening of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly, an event the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN, together with the Archdiocese of New York, has been hosting annually since 1987 in thanksgiving of the accomplishments of the closing session and to ask for God's intercession for the new session of the General Assembly.

Archbishop Luis Castro Quiroga of Tunja, Colombia, who delivered the meditation, shared his experience taking these concrete steps to achieve peace as President of the Colombian Bishops Conference while the negotiations for the peace process between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were taking place, and said that dialogue, truth, justice and mercy are key pillars for peace.

Mozart's Requiem at UN to Commemorate Armistice Day • On November 12, UN Ambassadors, Delegates and Staff joined poppy-clad musicians to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War I with concert at UN Headquarters in New York.

The UN Staff Recreation Council Symphony Orchestra and Choir, along with the chamber choir Inspire came together to perform Mozart's Requiem in D Minor, as well as Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings and Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus. The concert was sponsored by the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN, the Mountbatten Institute, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Sovereign Order of Malta to the UN, and the Priory in the USA of the Order of St. John.


Here are a list of articles for each event, which contain links to Archbishop Auza's remarks and a link to watch the webcast in full on UN Web TV:


Path to Peace Gala Dinner

At the 2018 Path to Peace Gala, held May 23 at the Pierre Hotel in New York, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, and Mr. Kevin Hyland, the-then Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner of the United Kingdom, jointly received the Path to Peace Award on behalf of the Santa Marta Group, the international alliance of police chiefs and Church leaders collaborating to eradicate human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza welcomed the 560 guests of the Gala and said that the Path to Peace Foundation had chosen to honor the Santa Marta Group because it is making such a difference in the fight against the plague of trafficking in persons and all forms of modern slavery, which according to the most accurate estimates presently ensnares 40.3 million people — 40.3 million girls, boys, women and men — in situations of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Pope Francis has called it a ‘crime against humanity,’ an atrocious scourge that is present throughout the world on a broad scale, even as tourism.

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Investing in the World's Future Peacemakers

Fall 2018 Interns pose for a photo with Fr. Roger Landry and Anna Fata of the Holy See Staff who coordinate their training. Pictured left to right: Mary Goretti Byagmugisha (Uganda), Vincent Kreiger (Germany), Janina Talamayan (USA), Attaché Anna Fata, Giulia Iop (Italy), Fr. Roger Landry, Juan Daray (Philippines), Alexander MacDonald (Canada), and Reyna Anderson (USA). (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Interns and fellows play a crucial role in the work of the Holy See Mission, covering events and conferences like the Commission on the Status of Women, negotiations like the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, Security Council Meetings, and the regular Committee Meetings of the General Assembly.

In the past three years, the Mission has enhanced its training program for interns and set up programs with various Catholic universities and private donors to sponsor fellowships for students or graduates to serve. The Mission has seen a growing number of applicants since strengthening the application and interview process, making the selection process increasingly arduous and creating a nice problem for the Mission to have to solve. The internship program has even received attention from Catholic News Agency.

Applications are now being received for the Summer 2019 Session (June through August 2019). Information on applying can be found here.

Above, Father Roger Landry of the Mission leads the Spring 2018 interns and fellows in a three-day boot camp, which consists in studying the history of the United Nations and of Holy See Diplomacy, explaining the structure of the United Nations and diplomatic protocols, practicing the report writing that will be an important part of their daily work, forming a team spirit and sharing many laughs. Pictured clockwise: Colombian-American Michelle Perez, Australian Koreen Cueto, American Kathleen Mullally, Filipino Aaron Salvan. Filipino Crisostomo "Sunny" Ala, Italian Giulia Maniezzi, American Kathleen "Kit" Driscoll.




Good Politics is at the Service of Peace

1 January 2019

1. “Peace be to this house!”

In sending his disciples forth on mission, Jesus told them: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you” (Lk 10:5-6).

Bringing peace is central to the mission of Christ’s disciples. That peace is offered to all those men and women who long for peace amid the tragedies and violence that mark human history.[1]The “house” of which Jesus speaks is every family, community, country and continent, in all their diversity and history. It is first and foremost each individual person, without distinction or discrimination. But it is also our “common home”: the world in which God has placed us and which we are called to care for and cultivate.

So let this be my greeting at the beginning of the New Year: “Peace be to this house!”

2. The challenge of good politics

Peace is like the hope which the poet Charles Péguy celebrated.[2] It is like a delicate flower struggling to blossom on the stony ground of violence. We know that the thirst for power at any price leads to abuses and injustice. Politics is an essential means of building human community and institutions, but when political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole, it can become a means of oppression, marginalization and even destruction.

Jesus tells us that, “if anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9:35). In the words of Pope Paul VI, “to take politics seriously at its different levels – local, regional, national and worldwide – is to affirm the duty of each individual to acknowledge the reality and value of the freedom offered him to work at one and the same time for the good of the city, the nation and all mankind”.[3]

Political office and political responsibility thus constantly challenge those called to the service of their country to make every effort to protect those who live there and to create the conditions for a worthy and just future. If exercised with basic respect for the life, freedom and dignity of persons, political life can indeed become an outstanding form of charity.

3. Charity and human virtues: the basis of politics at the service of human rights and peace

Pope Benedict XVI noted that “every Christian is called to practise charity in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields in the pólis… When animated by charity, commitment to the common good has greater worth than a merely secular and political stand would have… Man’s earthly activity, when inspired and sustained by charity, contributes to the building of the universal city of God, which is the goal of the history of the human family”.[4] This is a programme on which all politicians, whatever their culture or religion, can agree, if they wish to work together for the good of the human family and to practise those human virtues that sustain all sound political activity: justice, equality, mutual respect, sincerity, honesty, fidelity.

In this regard, it may be helpful to recall the “Beatitudes of the Politician”, proposed by Vietnamese Cardinal François-Xavier Nguy?n Vãn Thu?n, a faithful witness to the Gospel who died in 2002:

Blessed be the politician with a lofty sense and deep understanding of his role.

Blessed be the politician who personally exemplifies credibility.

Blessed be the politician who works for the common good and not his or her own interest.

Blessed be the politician who remains consistent.

Blessed be the politician who works for unity.

Blessed be the politician who works to accomplish radical change.

Blessed be the politician who is capable of listening.

Blessed be the politician who is without fear.[5]

Every election and re-election, and every stage of public life, is an opportunity to return to the original points of reference that inspire justice and law. One thing is certain: good politics is at the service of peace. It respects and promotes fundamental human rights, which are at the same time mutual obligations, enabling a bond of trust and gratitude to be forged between present and future generations.

4. Political vices

Sadly, together with its virtues, politics also has its share of vices, whether due to personal incompetence or to flaws in the system and its institutions. Clearly, these vices detract from the credibility of political life overall, as well as the authority, decisions and actions of those engaged in it. These vices, which undermine the ideal of an authentic democracy, bring disgrace to public life and threaten social harmony. We think of corruption in its varied forms: the misappropriation of public resources, the exploitation of individuals, the denial of rights, the flouting of community rules, dishonest gain, the justification of power by force or the arbitrary appeal to raison d’état and the refusal to relinquish power. To which we can add xenophobia, racism, lack of concern for the natural environment, the plundering of natural resources for the sake of quick profit and contempt for those forced into exile.

5. Good politics promotes the participation of the young and trust in others

When the exercise of political power aims only at protecting the interests of a few privileged individuals, the future is compromised and young people can be tempted to lose confidence, since they are relegated to the margins of society without the possibility of helping to build the future. But when politics concretely fosters the talents of young people and their aspirations, peace grows in their outlook and on their faces. It becomes a confident assurance that says, “I trust you and with you I believe” that we can all work together for the common good. Politics is at the service of peace if it finds expression in the recognition of the gifts and abilities of each individual. “What could be more beautiful than an outstretched hand? It was meant by God to offer and to receive. God did not want it to kill (cf. Gen 4:1ff) or to inflict suffering, but to offer care and help in life. Together with our heart and our intelligence, our hands too can become a means of dialogue”.[6]

Everyone can contribute his or her stone to help build the common home. Authentic political life, grounded in law and in frank and fair relations between individuals, experiences renewal whenever we are convinced that every woman, man and generation brings the promise of new relational, intellectual, cultural and spiritual energies. That kind of trust is never easy to achieve, because human relations are complex, especially in our own times, marked by a climate of mistrust rooted in the fear of others or of strangers, or anxiety about one’s personal security. Sadly, it is also seen at the political level, in attitudes of rejection or forms of nationalism that call into question the fraternity of which our globalized world has such great need. Today more than ever, our societies need “artisans of peace” who can be messengers and authentic witnesses of God the Father, who wills the good and the happiness of the human family.

6. No to war and to the strategy of fear

A hundred years after the end of the First World War, as we remember the young people killed in those battles and the civilian populations torn apart, we are more conscious than ever of the terrible lesson taught by fratricidal wars: peace can never be reduced solely to a balance between power and fear. To threaten others is to lower them to the status of objects and to deny their dignity. This is why we state once more that an escalation of intimidation, and the uncontrolled proliferation of arms, is contrary to morality and the search for true peace. Terror exerted over those who are most vulnerable contributes to the exile of entire populations who seek a place of peace. Political addresses that tend to blame every evil on migrants and to deprive the poor of hope are unacceptable. Rather, there is a need to reaffirm that peace is based on respect for each person, whatever his or her background, on respect for the law and the common good, on respect for the environment entrusted to our care and for the richness of the moral tradition inherited from past generations.

Our thoughts turn in a particular way to all those children currently living in areas of conflict, and to all those who work to protect their lives and defend their rights. One out of every six children in our world is affected by the violence of war or its effects, even when they are not enrolled as child soldiers or held hostage by armed groups. The witness given by those who work to defend them and their dignity is most precious for the future of humanity.

7. A great project of peace

In these days, we celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in the wake of the Second World War. In this context, let us also remember the observation of Pope John XXIII: “Man’s awareness of his rights must inevitably lead him to the recognition of his duties. The possession of rights involves the duty of implementing those rights, for they are the expression of a man’s personal dignity. And the possession of rights also involves their recognition and respect by others”.[7]

Peace, in effect, is the fruit of a great political project grounded in the mutual responsibility and interdependence of human beings. But it is also a challenge that demands to be taken up ever anew. It entails a conversion of heart and soul; it is both interior and communal; and it has three inseparable aspects:

- peace with oneself, rejecting inflexibility, anger and impatience; in the words of Saint Francis de Sales, showing “a bit of sweetness towards oneself” in order to offer “a bit of sweetness to others”;

- peace with others: family members, friends, strangers, the poor and the suffering, being unafraid to encounter them and listen to what they have to say;

- peace with all creation, rediscovering the grandeur of God’s gift and our individual and shared responsibility as inhabitants of this world, citizens and builders of the future.

The politics of peace, conscious of and deeply concerned for every situation of human vulnerability, can always draw inspiration from the Magnificat, the hymn that Mary, the Mother of Christ the Saviour and Queen of Peace, sang in the name of all mankind: “He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm; he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly; …for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever” (Lk 1:50-55).

From the Vatican, 8 December 2018


1. Cf. Lk 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased”.
2. Cf. Le Porche du mystère de la deuxième vertu, Paris, 1986.
3. Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens (14 May 1971), 46.
4. Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate (29 June 2009), 7.
5. Cf. Address at the “Civitas” Exhibition-Convention in Padua: “30 Giorni”, no. 5, 2002.
6. BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Authorities of Benin, Cotonou, 19 November 2011.
7. Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris (11 April 1963), ed. Carlen, 24.

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We will continue to bring you weekly highlights from the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, but for more updates, check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and our website www.holyseemission.org where you can find photos, articles, and infographics like these, made by our former intern, Aaron Salvan, who is now a seminarian.