Statement of the Holy See
at the High-Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly
to Commemorate the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the United Nations
21 September 2020
I am pleased to participate in this virtual high-level meeting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and to reiterate the Holy See’s support for this prestigious Institution.
For the past 75 years, the peoples of the world have turned to the United Nations as a source of hope for world peace and harmony among States. To this Organization they have brought the desire for an end to conflict and strife, greater respect for the dignity of the human person, the alleviation of suffering and poverty and the advancement of justice: an expression of an underlying expectation of the United Nations that this Organization would not only affirm the ideals on which it was founded, but would labor with ever-greater resolve to make these ideals a reality in the life of every woman and man.
Since its recognition as an Observer State in 1964, the Holy See has supported and taken an active role within the United Nations. Successive Popes have come before this General Assembly urging this noble Institution to be a “moral center” where every country is at home, where the family of nations convenes and where the international community — in a spirit of human fraternity and solidarity — advances together with multilateral solutions to global challenges. As the COVID-19 pandemic has made abundantly clear, we cannot go on thinking only of ourselves or fostering divisions; rather, we must work together to overcome the world’s worst plagues, mindful that the burden carried by some necessarily affects humanity and the whole family of Nations.
Over these 75 years, the UN has protected and served international law, promoting a world based on the rule of law and justice rather than on weapons and might. The UN has brought food to the starving, built homes for those without, has committed itself to the protection of our common home and has advanced a world of integral human development. The UN has strived to champion universal human rights, which also include the right to life and freedom of religion, as they are essential for the much needed promotion of a world where the dignity of every human person is protected and advanced. The Organization has worked to end war and conflict, to repair what violence and strife have destroyed and to bring opposing sides to the table so that, together, diplomacy and negotiation may win the day.
There have been challenges and setbacks, even contradictions and failures. The United Nations is not perfect and it has not always lived up to its name and ideals, and it has harmed itself whenever particular interests have triumphed over the common good. The United Nations will always be in need of revitalizing the original spirit in order to make the Charter’s principles and purposes its own, within the context of a changing world. There is also the need for diplomats here and for the countries they represent to commit themselves ever anew to the daunting task of seeking the common good in good faith through genuine consensus and compromise.
The United Nations Organization, where the peoples of the world unite in dialogue and common action, is needed as much today as ever to respond to the undiminished hopes of the peoples of the world.
Thank you for your kind attention.
 Cf. Pope Paul VI, Address to the United Nations, 4 October 1965; Pope Francis, Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See for the traditional exchange of New Year greetings, 9 January 2020.
 Pope John Paul II, Address to the Fiftieth Session of the United Nations General Assembly, 5 October 1995.
 Cf. Pope Francis, Sagrato of St Peter’s Basilica, 27 March 2020.