Monday 12 September 2011
Remarks of His Excellency Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Prayer Service on the Occasion of The Opening of the Sixty-Sixth Session of The United Nations General Assembly, Holy Family Church, New York City, 12 September 2011
Remarks of His Excellency Archbishop Francis ChullikattApostolic NuncioPermanent Observer of The Holy SeePrayer Service on the Occasion ofThe Opening of the Sixty-Sixth Sessionof The United Nations General Assembly Holy Family ChurchNew York City, 12 September 2011   Your Excellency, Bishop Sullivan,Your Excellencies, Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. President-elect, Madame Deputy Secretary-General, Permanent Representatives, Permanent Observers, distinguished members of the diplomatic corps and UN officers,Representatives of various religious traditions and confessions,Friends and supporters of the UN, Welcome to my cathedral.  It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this annual Prayer Service and pray for you, your families and Mission colleagues. In particular, I extend a cordial welcome to His Excellency the Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon and Mrs. Ban Soon-taek. I would like to take this occasion to congratulate you, Mr. Secretary General, on your reelection and wish you success also in the second term of your office. I also heartily welcome and express my felicitations to the President-elect of the General Assembly, His Excellency Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser and Mrs. Muna Ghassan Tamim Rihani. I am delighted to acknowledge the gracious presence of many Permanent Representatives and Mission staff as well as many high ranking officials of the UN System and Agencies, not to mention representatives of various Non-Governmental Organizations. I am pleased to see and welcome cordially many of the friends and well-wishers of the Holy See Mission. I thank Father Robert Robbins, Pastor of the Church of the Holy Family, and all of his team, especially the choir, for being such good hosts. Welcome also to all the clergy, consecrated religious and lay faithful assembled here today. I am pleased to note this evening the presence of members of other Churches, ecclesial communities and followers of other religious traditions here. You are most welcome. When some elements would try to convince the world that religion per se is the problem, our partnerships and friendships and common activities are all the more important. When our co-religionists feed the notion that orthodoxy is what makes religion problematic, our uncompromising fidelity to our traditions puts that notion to the test.  As Pope Benedict XVI said recently, “the role of religions has become essential today, because the one who is on the way to God or the one who is seeking God cannot but be a messenger of peace; those who build peace cannot but get closer to God. As pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace, we are all destined to tread the same path”.  Just yesterday this great city, our host country and the United Nations marked the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the thousands of victims and their families. Pope Benedict XVI remembered yesterday the victims of 9/11. In commending to God the lives of the victims and their families, he asked “leaders of nations and people of good will always to refuse violence as a solution to problems, to resist the temptation of hatred and to work in society, drawing inspiration from the principles of solidarity, justice and peace.” I was working here at the Holy See Mission at that time and remember it well. How could I ever forget the sight of the smoke billowing out of the World Trade Center? So many lives were lost and so many heroes were born. Do we need any more obvious reminder that a) the world needs God and lasting peace and b) every human life is precious?  The voyages of Blessed Pope John Paul II throughout the world and to the assembly of nations reiterated that message. This monument to his visits to the United Nations, which we are about to unveil today, is yet another tribute to that great Pontiff’s courage and commitment in defending always the unique value and worth of every human being. In fact, the multi-lateral diplomacy and all endeavors of this coming session of the United Nations General Assembly, which we inaugurate this week, should continue to uphold as a fundamental objective this lofty and noble mission of defending, sustaining and nurturing life in all its stages. The one who defends life, defends the earth and indeed the entire universe.  So, allow me, to take this opportunity to wish you all a successful and fruitful 66th Session of the General Assembly.   Pope Benedict XVI, who follows closely the activities of the UN, is pleased to know of this prayer service and is gracious to send for our gathering this evening his blessings with the following message: HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI SENDS CORDIAL GREETINGS TO ALL TAKING PART IN THE PRAYER SERVICE HELD ON THE EVE OF THE SIXTY-SIXTH ORDINARY SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, AND JOINS THEM IN ASKING ALMIGHTY GOD TO GUIDE AND SUSTAIN THEIR EFFORTS TO CONTRIBUTE TO A GLOBAL CULTURE OF PEACE, SOLIDARITY AND CONCERN FOR THE UNIVERSAL COMMON GOOD. AS THE CRY OF SO MANY OF THE WORLD’S PEOPLES FOR JUSTICE AND FREEDOM BECOMES INCREASINGLY INSISTENT, HIS HOLINESS PRAYS THAT THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY WILL RESPOND TO THEIR LEGITIMATE ASPIRATIONS BY WORKING RESOLUTELY FOR THE ADOPTION OF MODELS OF DEVELOPMENT CAPABLE OF FOSTERING THE AUTHENTIC MATERIAL AND MORAL PROGRESS OF INDIVIDUALS AND PEOPLES, INCLUDING ACCESS TO ADEQUATE NUTRITION, HEALTH-CARE AND EDUCATION.UPON ALL THOSE ASSOCIATED WITH THE DELIBERATIONS OF THE COMING SESSION AND THOSE GATHERED FOR THIS ANNUAL MOMENT OF REFLECTION AND PRAYER, THE HOLY FATHER WILLINGLY INVOKES THE DIVINE BLESSINGS OF WISDOM, STRENGTH AND PERSEVERANCE IN ALL GOOD.CARDINAL TARCISIO BERTONESECRETARY OF STATE OF HIS HOLINESSPOPE BENEDICT XVIThank you for the kind attention.