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December 14, 2020

Pope Francis Addresses High-Level
Climate Ambition Summit

Pope Francis during his message to the Climate Ambition Summit 2020.


VATICAN CITY — On December 12, Pope Francis addressed via pre-recorded video message the Climate Ambition Summit 2020, co-convened by the United Nations, the United Kingdom and France in partnership with Chile and Italy. 

It was held to mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, adopted on 12 December 2015. The goal of the summit was to set out new commitments with regard to the three pillars of the Paris Agreement, mitigation, adaptation and financing, 

In his remarks, Pope Francis said that the Vatican City State is committed to reducing net emissions to zero before 2050 and to promoting education in integral ecology. 

To watch his statement, delivered in Spanish, please click here.

The English translation of his remarks is found below: 

The current pandemic and climate change, which have not only environmental but also ethical, social, economic, and political relevance, affect above all the life of the poorest and most fragile. In this way, they appeal to our responsibility to promote, through collective and joint commitment, a culture of care, which places human dignity and the common good at the center.

Aside from adopting various measures that cannot be postponed any further, a strategy is necessary to reduce net emissions to zero (net-zero emission).

The Holy See joins in this aim, moving on two levels:

1. On the one hand, Vatican City State is committed to reducing net emissions to zero before 2050, intensifying the efforts at environmental management that have already been in process for some years, and which make possible the rational use of natural resources such as water and energy, energy efficiency, sustainable mobility, reforestation, and the circular economy also in waste management.

2. On the other, the Holy See is committed to promoting education in integral ecology. Political and technical measures must be united with an educational process that favors a cultural model of development and sustainability based on fraternity and the alliance between the human being and the environment. From this perspective, I inaugurated the Global Education Pact to accompany Catholic schools and universities, attended by more than seventy million students in all continents, and I have supported the “Economy of Francesco”, through which young economists, businesspeople, and experts in finance and the world of work promote new pathways to overcome energy poverty, which place care for common goods at the center of national and international politics, and which favor sustainable production also in countries with a low income, sharing appropriate advanced technologies.

The moment has come for a change of direction. Let us not rob the new generations of their hope in a better future. Thank you.


Statement by Cardinal Pietro Parolin
at the Special Session of the General Assembly
in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

On Dec. 3, Holy See Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, participated in the Special Session of the General Assembly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


NEW YORK — On December 4, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, addressed by pre-recorded video message the general debate of a special session of the United Nations General Assembly called in response to the ongoing Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The special session took place over two days. 141 countries spoke via pre-recorded video message. Among the speakers were 55 Presidents, 34 Prime Ministers, 4 Deputy Prime Ministers, 30 Foreign Ministers, and 7 Ministers of Health. There were also three interactive dialogues dedicated the UN's health and humanitarian response to date, issues with a COVID-19 vaccine, and the socio-economic impact of the crisis and the road to recovery. 

In his remarks, Cardinal Parolin echoed Pope Francis' call for solidarity, common effort, truthful appraisal, co-responsibility and special care for those in vulnerable situations. Since no country can resolve the pandemic on its own, he stressed the need for multilateralism, especially in the development of ethical, affordable and available vaccines. He urged special attention given to the elderly and persons with disabilities, migrants, asylum seekers and refugees and called for a person-centered and environmentally sensitive economic model. He asked whether the pandemic has created an opportunity to consider reallocating funds dedicated to stockpiling and modernizing weapons to the advancement of integral human development. 

To watch the video of Cardinal Parolin's statement, please click here

His remarks follow: 

Mr. President, 

As the world responds to the global challenge of this pandemic, Pope Francis has repeatedly called for solidarity and for a common effort that must be based on an honest appraisal of its impact, especially on those in vulnerable situations. Based on the Pope’s exhortations, I would like to present a few key ideas for the world’s response to COVID-19. 

Solidarity and common efforts: multilateralism 

Faced with this worldwide challenge, the United Nations must live up to the hope that peoples have placed in it. No State is able to resolve the pandemic on its own [1]. In this regard, the Holy See strongly encourages common efforts aimed at ensuring that proper medical care and effective vaccines, free from ethical concerns, are affordable and promptly available in sufficient quantities, also to developing countries. 

Priority to the poor, the sick, and those in need 

It is critical to acknowledge that the pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing social ills, and those on the peripheries of society bear the brunt of its consequences. 

This situation risks intensifying chronic problems such as hunger, malnutrition, abuse, exploitation, child labor, and child marriage. The elderly and persons with disabilities, often relegated to the margins of societies, have had to endure heightened poverty, social isolation and discrimination, violence, abandonment and abuse. Children and young people, meanwhile, have had their schools closed. Violence against women and girls has also increased. 

COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. It threatens safe resettlement pathways and the health security of those in overcrowded and under-resourced camps. 

The world after COVID-19: a new economy 

It is high time for the international community to reject an economic model based primarily or exclusively on profits and on the assumption that workers are exploitable or disposable means to that end. We cannot accept the continuation of a system that excludes millions from having primary goods, where economic and technological inequality rends the social fabric, and where the pursuit of unlimited and unbridled material progress threatens our common home [2]. Is this not the opportune time to reconsider seriously whether funds spent on the stockpiling and modernization of weapons would not be more wisely invested in the advancement of integral human development? 

The challenges of this crisis must be met with a spirit of co-responsibility and with the contribution of everyone. 

Thank you for your kind attention. 


[1] Cf. Pope Francis, Address to the United Nations General Assembly, 25 September 2020, calling to a “consolidation of multilateralism as the expression of a renewed sense of global co-responsibility, a solidarity grounded in justice and the attainment of peace and unity within the human family.” 

[2] Cf. Pope Francis, Address at the General Audience, 26 August 2020.


Statement after adoption by Archbishop Caccia
on the resolution "Global Heath and Foreign Policy:
Strengthening Health System Resilience
through Affordable Health Care for All"

On Dec. 14, Archbishop Caccia gave a statement after the adoption of draft resolution on "Global health and foreign policy: strengthening health system resilience through affordable health care for all" (A/75/L.41). 


NEW YORK — On December 14, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia gave a statement after the adoption of General Assembly resolution A/75/L.41, dedicated to "Global health and foreign policy: Strengthening Health System Resilience through Affordable Health Care for All." 

In his remarks, Archbishop Caccia said that the resolution was a reminder that we share a duty to care for one another, especially the poorest and most helpless, a situation that has become more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Holy See, he says, has consistently supported universal access to health care and, through the Catholic Church's 100,000 healthcare institutions, offered it, especially in areas serving vulnerable populations. 

He expressed the Holy See's disappointment that the adopted declaration included the "divisive and deeply problematic reference" to "sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights," which he said weakens the resolution. His statement is below.  

Mr. President,

The Holy See would like to thank the delegation of Indonesia and the other Members of the core group of the Foreign Policy and Global Health initiative for their commitment to the consultation process. 

The theme of “Strengthening health system resilience through affordable healthcare for all” has never been so timely. It reminds us that we share a duty to care for one another, especially the poorest and most helpless. To ensure that all people have access to the medical care they need is a concrete expression of solidarity, social justice and the common good.

Reflecting on the current historical moment marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis recently stated that “the fragility of world systems in the face of the pandemic has demonstrated that not everything can be resolved by market freedom.”[1]“Health is not a consumer good but rather a universal right and therefore access to healthcare services cannot be a privilege.”[2]  The right to health is in fact universally recognized as a basic human right and is understood as comprising the health of the person as a whole and of all persons during all stages of development. 

My delegation is pleased to see that this resolution emphasizes the impact that the pandemic has on the most vulnerable. It has made those who do not enjoy access to healthcare, in particular those with disabilities, the elderly, the migrants in precarious situations and refugees, even more vulnerable. The pandemic has also aggravated those situations where women and children are denied equal access to quality healthcare. 

The Holy See strongly encourages common efforts aimed at ensuring that proper medical care and effective vaccines, free from ethical concerns, are affordable and promptly available in sufficient quantities, including in developing countries. Most low-income countries need the support of the international community to overcome funding shortfalls and assure the wellbeing of their respective populations.

Mr. President,

This resolution sets out important commitments to support the most vulnerable and to engage all relevant stakeholders in designing better health systems. It represents a significant step forward in our common efforts to provide every man, woman and child with healthcare.   

The Holy See has never failed to support universal access to healthcare or, through the approximately one hundred thousand Catholic healthcare institutions throughout the world, to offer it, with the majority serving vulnerable populations living under adverse conditions. 

The Holy See considers it most unfortunate, however, that the adopted declaration includes the divisive and deeply problematic reference to “sexual and reproductive health, and reproductive rights” as a component of universal health coverage. In line with our reservations expressed at the international conferences held in Beijing and Cairo, the Holy See reiterates that it considers the phrase “reproductive health” and related terms as applying to a holistic concept of health, which embraces the person in the entirety of his or her personality, mind and body. Moreover, the Holy See rejects the interpretation that considers abortion or access to abortion as dimensions of these terms, or of universal health coverage. 

The inclusion of this troublesome phrase not only weakens the resolution but in fact contradicts it.

Thank you, Mr. President.

[1]Cfr. Pope Francis, Encyclical letter “Fratelli Tutti”. 

[2]Pope Francis, Address to members of Doctors with Africa, 7 May 2016. 


Central Emergency Response Fund
High-Level Pledging Event,
"A Fund For All, By All"

On Dec. 8, Archbishop Caccia gave a statement during the virtual Central Emergency Fund High-Level Pledging Event entitled "A Fund for all, by all." 


NEW YORK — On December 8, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, gave a statement during the vCentral Emergency Response Fund (CERF) High-Level Pledging Event, entitled, "A Fund for all, by all." 

In his statement, Archbishop Caccia spoke about the solidarity of the international community for the weakest and most vulnerable, something more urgent in view of the dramatic humanitarian situation flowing from the COVID-19 pandemic. He mentioned how the Vatican's COVID-19 task force is trying to concretize Pope Francis' pastoral concern for the most affected through an innovative and well-coordinated response. He added that the institutions of the Catholic Church across the globe have been actively involved as well. 

HIs statement follows. 

Mr. President,

I welcome this opportunity to address all those who areparticipating in today’s High-Level Pledging Event.

Given the ever more dramatic humanitarian situation across the world, the Holy See would like to add its voice in support of all those who, by their presence here today and their generous financial assistance, manifest the solidarity of the international community for the weakest and most vulnerable members of our human family, to ensure that no one is left behind. Sadly, for so many of our brothers and sisters, the pandemic has added yet another level of distress.

Pope Francis noted in his address to the Seventy-Fifth Session of the UN General Assembly in September, “We never emerge from a crisis just as we were. We come out either better or worse.” While getting back on track is not impossible, it is not inevitable either. To come out better depends on the decisions we are making now.

From the outset of the pandemic, Pope Francis has appealed for all of us to come together and act together. Earlier this year, in fact, he established the Vatican’s COVID-19 task force, the aim of which is to translate and concretize the Pope’s pastoral concern for those most affected, and offer an innovative and well-coordinated response to this crisis. Through its five working groups, the task force has been acting with sensitivity to specific local needs, avoiding imposed solutions or a one-size-fits-all approach. Particular attention has been given to those in already desperate situations caused by conflict, forced displacement, climate change or scarce resources, which the pandemic has only made more precarious.

Mr. President,

Institutions of the Catholic Church on the ground, from the schools run by religious sisters and brothers to the hospitals, dispensaries and shelters funded by the charitable donations of Catholics across the world, have all been actively caring for those most affected by the pandemic. Together with the generosity of so many others, these concrete works of sacrifice for others show forth the solidarity the world so desperately needs at this time. The ongoing global challenge and its collateral crises affecting so many members of the human family urge us to set aside indifference and what might be termed “appeal fatigue” and respond with even greater solidarity.

I thank you, Mr. President.


Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review
of Operational Activities for Development
of the United Nations System (QCPR)

On Dec. 8, Archbishop Caccia gave an explanation of position after the adoption of the resolution on the "Quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations System" (QCPR) (A/C.2/75/L.61)


NEW YORK — On December 8, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, gave a statement after the adoption of the "Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review [QCPR] of Operational Activities for Development of the United Nations System."

In his remarks, Archbishop Caccia said that the QCPR is of crucial importance to the UN's efforts to end poverty. He praised its inclusion of the sustainable development agenda's focus on the eradication of poverty and hunger, the alignment with national development policies, the focus on countries in special situations, and the connection to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Sendai Framework. 

He expressed disappointment that several paragraphs were added that are beyond the Second Committee's focus on development or the purpose of the QCPR and that several Delegations opposed the reaffirmation that the eradication of poverty in all its forms and dimension is an overarching objective of sustainable development. 

HIs statement follows. 

Mr. Chair,

The Holy See wishes to thank Guyana for presenting, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, the draft resolution “Quadrennial comprehensive policy review (QCPR) of operational activities for development of the United Nations system” as well as to thank all Delegations that constructively engaged in the discussions on this text. 

By providing system-wide strategic policy orientations for development cooperation and country-level modalities of the United Nations development system (UNDS),the QCPR resolution is of crucial importance to the UN’s efforts “to end poverty and hunger everywhere.”[1] It will serve as a blueprint for the next four years and, therefore, guide efforts during most of the first half of the Decade of Action. In light of the many challenges facing integral human development and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Holy See hoped that the QCPR this year would reaffirm the overarching goal of the 2030 Agenda: the eradication of poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty.

To ensure this, the QCPR resolution needs to build upon previous resolutions, preserving continuity. It should reflect correctly the development commitments as they were agreed as well as their priorities to facilitate implementation, and provide overall coordination and clear guidance for the United Nations development system to make a difference on the ground. Given the essential nature of this text and especially in these most unprecedented times, its adoption by consensus would have been an excellent opportunity to reaffirm not only our commitment to multilateralism, but above all and most importantly the integral development of the peoples the United Nations system is designed to serve.

There is much to be welcomed in the adopted resolution, notably its affirmation of key principles for development. These include inter alia: 

  • The implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular the eradication of poverty and hunger, is and must remain the goal of the UNDS and its entities; 
  • United Nations Development System [UNDS] entities must work in accordance with the national development policies, plans, priorities and needs of programme countries, and in full respect of their respective mandates;
  • Countries in special situations – including Least Developed Countries [LDCs], Land-locked Developing Countries [LLDCs] and Small Island Developing States [SIDS] – and the specific challenges they face must be given particular attention, including through the targeted implementation of specific plans, agendas and pathways;
  • Progress towards sustainable development requires that not only the 2030 Agenda, but also the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Sendai Framework, be implemented, recognizing that these support and complement each other. 

At the same time, however, the Holy See is compelled to voice its disappointment with certain aspects of the resolution just adopted by this Committee: 

  1. A number of new paragraphs have been added to the resolution that concern topics that fall outside the mandate of the Second Committee. The QCPR is not an omnibus text that addresses all issues, including divisive issues that clearly fall under the competence of other Committees.
  2. The QCPR is and must remain a development resolution, focusing on policy orientations for the UNDS. The constant attempt by some Delegations to alter the very nature of the QCPR remains concerning. Requesting the deletion of entire paragraphs dealing with development-focused issues, which are and should remain the very core of the text, or seeking to overload the text with new language that distracts from its development-focus, does not serve this specific and important resolution. Although many such issues were ultimately rejected, ever-repetitive discussions undermine this Committee’s consensus-based approach.
  3. In this regard, it is of particular concern that some Delegations opposed reaffirming that the eradication of poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is an overarching objective of the 2030 Agenda. The watering down of agreed language, if not outright opposition to it, sets a dangerous precedent for future negotiations and for continuity in the work of this Committee. 

In light of these concerns, the Holy See is very pleased to see the retention of: 

  1. Operative Paragraph 38, which calls upon “the United Nations Development system to improve and ensure support and assistance to programme countries, upon their request, in developing their national capacities to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”; 
  2. The several paragraphs addressing the specific challenges of countries in special situations; and 
  3. Operative Paragraph 94 stating that “the focus of the resident coordinator system should remain sustainable development, with the eradication of poverty in all its forms and dimensions as its overarching objective, consistent with the integrated nature of the 2030 Agenda and in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework and national leadership and ownership.”

Thank you, Mr. Chair. 

[1]A/RES/70/1, Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, preamble.


Applications Being Accepted for the
Summer 2021 Internship Cycle 
at the Holy See Mission

The Fall 2020 class of interns at the Holy See Mission together with Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, and Fr. Roger Landry of the Holy See Mission Staff. From left to right: Juan Padin (Argentina), Pedro Perez (Cuba/USA), Jean Maloney (USA), Thomas Murphy (Canada), Francesco Teruggi (Italy), Marisa Martinez (USA), and David Lewandowski (USA). The internship cycle concludes on December 18. 


NEW YORK — The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See is presently receiving applications for the Summer 2021 Class of Interns. The Summer 2021 session will extend from May 31 to August 27. The application deadline is December 31. 

The internship program provides the opportunity for bright, Catholic, college graduates or graduate students to gain invaluable experience assisting the work of the Holy See in its multilateral work at the UN, seeking to bring the light of Catholic Social Teaching to the debates of the international community. Interns receive a special orientation on the history of the diplomatic work of the Holy See at the United Nations, attend the wide variety of UN meetings, conferences and debates, file reports to be sent to the Holy See’s central offices in the Vatican, assist in running the Mission’s many conferences, regularly attend receptions and cultural events held by the Holy See and other Missions, and many other activities.

Up to eight interns are taken each cycle in a highly competitive application process. 

Since the Fall of 2015, there have been 108 interns at the Holy See Mission from 29 different countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, France, Germany, Ghana, Haiti, Israel, Italy, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Scotland, Singapore, Switzerland, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the USA. 

Those interested in finding out more, or in applying, are encouraged to visit the internship tab at the Holy See Mission website