Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See
Seventy-third Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Third Committee
Agenda Item 72: Elimination of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia
and Related Intolerance
New York, 30 October 2018
The Holy See reiterates its firm condemnation of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance as these are contrary to the inalienable dignity of every human person. As recalled by the Secretary-General in his report, “Any doctrine of racial superiority, together with theories that attempt to determine the existence of separate human races, is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous and must be rejected.”
Yet, “we live in times in which feelings that to many had seemed to be outdated appear to be reemerging and spreading,” as Pope Francis recently said to the participants of an international conference held in the Vatican on “Xenophobia, Racism and Populist Nationalism in the Context of Global Migration.” In our globalized world, he lamented, there appears to be an upsurge of feelings of suspicion, fear, contempt and even hatred towards individuals or groups judged for their ethnic, national or religious identity and, as such, are considered not sufficiently worthy of being fully part of society’s life. Such sentiments all too often inspire acts of intolerance, discrimination or exclusion.
It also happens that in the world of politics some yield to the temptation of exploiting the fears and objective difficulties of some groups, using illusory promises for shortsighted electoral interests.
The seriousness of these phenomena cannot leave us indifferent. We are all called, in our respective roles, to cultivate and promote respect for the intrinsic dignity of every human person and to foster a culture of encounter and openness to others, in mutual respect. In particular, faced with the spread of new forms of xenophobia and racism, leaders of all religions have the important mission of spreading, among their members, the ethical principles and values inscribed by God in the heart of man.
It is true that religious leaders and believers have not always lived up to this responsibility. There has been no shortage of acts of religiously motivated intolerance that even today, rather than fostering openness to others, can be used at times as a pretext for rejection, marginalization and violence, the worst expression of which is the homicidal madness that misuses God’s name in order to disseminate death as part of a play for domination and power. The response, however, to such insanity cannot be the logic of an eye-for-an-eye or entering into a vicious cycle of retaliatory violence, but must rather take the form of authentic dialogue between religious confessions beginning with the joint and unequivocal reaffirmation that killing others in the name of God is blasphemy against God’s name. In other words, there should be “a firm and clear “No!” to every form of violence, vengeance and hatred carried out in the name of religion or in the name of God.”
The monitoring and investigation of incidents of “hate speech” and “hate crime” in order to protect those who are vulnerable to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are good practices and effective Durban follow-up mechanisms. Such practices, however, are good only as long as States do not use “hate speech” regulation as a pretext for censorship and other abuses. Some regulations define “hate speech” not only on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin or religious affiliation, but also on ideologically biased criteria. The drive to combat against racism must not make us lose sight of our principles and can never justify the adoption of discriminatory or repressive measures against those, for example, who defend the dignity of every human life or uphold the dignity of marriage and the family.
The elimination of racism is a matter of gestures and actions that contribute to building societies based on the principle of respect for every human life and the dignity of every person, and on the practice of empathy and compassion, of solidarity and fraternity, gestures and practices that go far beyond tolerance.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
1. A/73/371, 1.
2. Pope Francis, Address to Participants at the World Conference on “Xenophobia, Racism and Populist Nationalism in
the Context of Global Migration”, 20 September 2018.
3. Pope Francis, Address to Participants in the International Peace Conference, Al-Azhar Conference Centre, Cairo, 28