2021 Path to Peace Gala Dinner
Guastavino’s, New York, November 16, 2021
Mr. Supreme Knight,
It gives me great joy to be able to welcome you tonight to the Path to Peace Gala Dinner. What a coincidence: It was exactly two years ago today that Pope Francis appointed me the seventh Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.
As I reached out to my friend, Archbishop Barney Auza, and my other predecessors for their insights in anticipation of the move, they informed me that one of the sweet duties I was assuming was to become the President of the Path to Peace Foundation and the host of its annual Gala Dinner. Their love for this night made me eager for this event. Little did I know that my first Gala would be delayed three times because of the pandemic.
Tonight’s Gala, however, has been certainly worth the wait because of the man we have the privilege to honor with the Path to Peace Award, His Excellency, Mr. António Guterres.
We were originally intending to present this award in 2020, during the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, in gratitude for his work in leading the UN in its persevering efforts to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” as the first words of the UN Charter proclaim.
We also were grateful and inspired by his meeting with Pope Francis, and their Joint Statement on Building a Peaceful, Just and Humane Society, delivered just before Christmas in 2019, showing the compatibility of the peace announced by the Gospel with the peace the peoples of the world seek. That collaboration between the Holy Father and the Secretary-General has only grown since, as their voices joined in unison in calling for a global ceasefire during the pandemic, so that the energies of the world could be dedicated to fighting against COVID than against brothers and sisters.
The Path to Peace Foundation, however, has wanted to honor His Excellency with this award from even before his tenure as Secretary-General.
Back in 2015, on account of his even-then decades of untiring efforts to promote peace as UN High Commissioner for Refugees during the worst refugee crisis facing the globe since World War II; on account of his work as Prime Minister of Portugal in helping to resolve the conflict in East Timor; and on account of his endeavors even as a university student working with Catholic Action to bring peace to impoverished areas of Lisbon, the Path to Peace Foundation informed him that we would like to present him with the 2015 Path to Peace Award.
He said that he would be delighted to receive it, but that he needed to check first with the UN Office of Legal Affairs to find out if it was possible for the High Commissioner to receive such an honor. It turns out it wasn’t. So the Path to Peace Board resolved to wait until his tenure as High Commissioner was over, to ask him again. Little did they know then that his lifetime work as a peacekeeper, peacemaker, and peacebuilder would only grow with his election — and as of June 18 this year his re-election — as the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations.
When Pope St. Paul VI, who established the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See, addressed the General Assembly in 1965, he said to then Secretary-General U Thant, the representatives of the nations of the world, as well as those involved in every dimension of the UN’s labors, “You have performed and continue to perform a great work: the education of mankind in the ways of peace. The United Nations is the great school where that education is imparted, and we are today in the Assembly Hall of that school. Everyone taking his place here becomes a pupil and also a teacher in the art of building peace. When you leave this Hall, the world looks upon you as the architects and builders of peace. …You labor in this great construction.”
The United Nations remains a great school of peace and you, Mr. Secretary-General, are the able and inspiring Chancellor of that university, as well as a tireless student, teacher, architect and artisan of peace globally. In a world that is desperate for peace and for peacemakers, you are an answer to the prayers of humanity and the anguished cries of the voiceless and beleaguered.
In lieu of the monetary award that normally accompanies this honor, the Path to Peace Foundation will be making gifts to two charities that you, yourself, have personally nominated: The Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation — and there are many supporters of the Foundation at this Gala tonight — and the Daughters of Charity Center of Nutrition in Cité Soleil, Haiti. Those who would like to magnify these gifts in honor of the Secretary-General are able to do so via the websites of the Holy See Mission and Path to Peace Foundation, which are found on the back cover of your program.
Mr. Secretary-General, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Tonight we ask him to bless you, your wife Catarina Vaz Pinto and your family, as you persevere to lead the world in the path of peace. And we ask him, through your efforts, to bless always and everywhere “we, the peoples of the united nations.”
It gives me great joy to present to you the 2021 Path to Peace Award.
To view Archbishop Caccia's remarks, please click below: