Allow the poor to be dignified agents of their own destiny –...

Allow the poor to be dignified agents of their own destiny – Pope Francis

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Pope Francis on Friday in New York renewed his urgent appeal to the international community to take action to end the humanitarian tragedies around the world. Pope Francis made the call in his address to the UN General Assembly, the first time a pope has declared opened such an event.

He asked all “competent organs” of the UN, in particular those responsible for security, peace, humanitarian law and assistance to refugees, to continue their efforts in accordance with the Preamble and relevant Articles of the UN Charter.

“The tragic experiences of the Twentieth Century and the most basic understanding of human dignity, compels the international community, particularly through the norms and mechanisms of international law, to do all that it can to stop and prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities.

“The violent attacks that are sweeping across Northern Iraq cannot but awaken the consciences of all men and women of goodwill to concrete acts of solidarity by protecting those affected or threatened by violence,” he said

The Pope said that ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction and possibly the destruction of all mankind, were self-contradictory and an affront to the entire framework of the UN. “There is an urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the Non-proliferation Treaty, in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons.

“The recent agreement reached on the nuclear question in a sensitive region of Asia and the Middle East is proof of the potential of political goodwill and of law, exercised with sincerity, patience and constancy. “I express my hope that this agreement will be lasting and efficacious, and bring forth the desired fruits with the cooperation of all the parties involved.

“In this sense, hard evidence is not lacking of the negative effects of military and political interventions which are not coordinated between members of the international community,” he said.

The Pontiff further renewed his appeals on the situation in the Middle East and other African countries where Christians, together with other cultural or ethnic groups, and even members of the majority religion, who have no desire to be caught up in hatred and folly, have been forced to witness the destruction of their places of worship.

These realities, he said, should serve as “a grave summons to an examination of conscience on the part of those charged with the conduct of international affairs. “Not only in cases of religious or cultural persecution, but in every situation of conflict, as in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan and the Great Lakes region, real human beings should take precedence over partisan interests, however legitimate the latter may be.

“In wars and conflicts there are individual persons, our brothers and sisters, men and women, young and old, boys and girls who weep, suffer and die. Human beings who are easily discarded when our only response is to draw up lists of problems, strategies and disagreements,” he said.

The Pontiff said that the number and complexity of the problems required that we must possess technical instruments of verification.

“It must never be forgotten that political and economic activity is only effective when it is understood as a prudential activity, guided by a perennial concept of justice. “Constantly conscious of the fact that, above and beyond our plans and programmes, we are dealing with real men and women who live, struggle and suffer, and are often forced to live in great poverty, deprived of all rights.

“To enable these real men and women to escape from extreme poverty, we must allow them to be dignified agents of their own destiny. Integral human development and the full exercise of human dignity cannot be imposed.

“They must be built up and allowed to unfold for each individual, every family, in communion with others, and in a right relationship with all those areas in which human social life develops among friends, communities, towns and cities, schools, businesses and unions, provinces, nations, etc.

“This presupposes and requires the right to education also for girls, excluded in certain places, which is ensured first and foremost by respecting and reinforcing the primary right of the family to educate its children, as well as the right of churches and social groups to support and assist families in the education of their children,” he said.

The Pontiff said that education conceived in this way, was the basis for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and for reclaiming the environment. He challenged world leaders to do everything possible to ensure that all can have the minimum spiritual and material means needed to live in dignity and to create and support a family, which is the primary cell of any social development.

In practical terms, he said, this absolute minimum has three names:“ lodging, labour, and land; and one spiritual name: spiritual freedom, which includes religious freedom, the right to education and other civil rights’’. For all this, he added the simplest and best measure and indicator of the implementation of the new Agenda for development will be effective, practical and immediate access, on the part of all, to essential material and spiritual goods.

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