Pope calls for reforms, change in direction, in address to the United Nations
A handout photo made available by the United Nations shows Pope Francis (on screen) addressing the general debate of the General Assembly's 75th session, in New York, New York, United States, 25 September 2020. (Photo by EPA-EFE/EVAN SCHNEIDER HANDOUT/MaxPPP)
Pope Francis calls for "a change of direction" and a robust ethical framework capable of overcoming "today's widespread and quietly growing culture of waste", in his video message to the 75th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Addressing representatives of the 193-member world body in a video message because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pope appealed for a joint commitment towards a better future through multilateralism and collaboration among states.
He said this special anniversary is a fitting occasion to express the Holy See's desire that the UN serves "as a sign of unity between States and an instrument of service to the entire human family."
Pope Francis said the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis has exposed our human fragility and has called into question our economic, health and social systems and the need to realize the right of every person to basic health care.
The current crisis shows us that solidarity cannot be "an empty word or promise" and shows us "the importance of avoiding every temptation to exceed our natural limits", he said.
Therefore "it is our duty to rethink the future of our common home and our common project" by strengthening multilateralism and cooperation between states.
The pope in his address spoke on issues that are very much part of his pontificate. Besides talking of the obvious COVID-19 pandemic and a post-coronavirus society and the need for solidarity, he spoke on the culture of waste, care for our common home, economic inequalities, peace and the dismantling of nuclear weapons.
"I think of the effects of the pandemic on employment, a sector already destabilized by a labor market driven by increasing uncertainty and widespread robotization. There is an urgent need to find new forms of work truly capable of fulfilling our human potential and affirming our dignity," Francis said.
Change of direction
He called for a change in the dominant economic paradigm which aims only to expand profit and businesses to make offering jobs to more people one of their main objectives.
Pope Francis also urged that we choose the path that leads to the consolidation of multilateralism, global responsibility, peace and inclusion of the poor.
"All this calls for a change of direction. To achieve this, we already possess the necessary cultural and technological resources, and social awareness. This change of direction will require, however, a more robust ethical framework capable of overcoming "today's widespread and quietly growing culture of waste", he said.
Elaborating on "this throwaway culture" Pope Francis highlighted the "gross lack of respect for human dignity, the promotion of ideologies with reductive understandings of the human person, a denial of the universality of fundamental human rights and a craving for absolute power and control."
These, he said, are "an attack against humanity itself."
Many violations of fundamental human rights "offer us a frightening picture of a humanity abused, wounded, deprived of dignity, freedom and hope for the future", he said.
Erosion of multilateralism
Pope Francis also spoke of the "need to break with the present climate of distrust" marked by the erosion of multilateralism and the development of new forms of military technology which irreversibly alter the nature of warfare.
He singled out nuclear deterrence which "creates an ethos of fear based on the threat of mutual annihilation" and called for dismantling the perverse logic that links security to the possession of weaponry while generating profit for the arms industry.
That is why he is appealing to the international community to ensure that institutions are truly effective in the struggle against these challenges and reiterated the Holy See's commitment to playing its part to help the situation.
Pope Francis noted that the UN was established to bring nations together and so the institution should be used to "transform the challenge that lies before us into an opportunity to build together, once more, the future we all desire."
This year marks a special anniversary for the United Nations -- the 75th year from the signing of the UN Charter in San Francisco in 1945.
The United Nations usually welcomes in person hundreds of Heads of State and Government, Foreign Ministers during the High-Level portion of the General Debate at the beginning of each session of the General Assembly.
However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the statements will be given via pre-recorded video messages.
Since 1964 the Holy See has the status of a Permanent Observer State at the UN and has a Permanent Observer Mission at the UN headquarters in New York.