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Pope warns against undermining U.N.

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080418/ts_nm/pope_usa_dc Pope warns against undermining U.N. By Philip Pullella 49 minutes ago UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 18, 2008

      Pope warns against undermining U.N.

      By Philip Pullella 49 minutes ago

      UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Countries that act
      unilaterally on the world stage undermine the
      authority of the United Nations and weaken the broad
      consensus needed to confront global problems, Pope
      Benedict said on Friday.

      In a major speech to the U.N. General Assembly, the
      pope also said the international community sometimes
      had the duty to intervene when a country could not
      protect its own people from "grave and sustained
      violations of human rights."

      The pope, who arrived from Washington on the second
      leg of a six-day U.S. trip, was only the third pontiff
      in history to address the General Assembly.

      Speaking in French and English from the Assembly's
      green marble podium, he gave a wide-ranging address on
      issues such as globalization, human rights and the

      The international community must be "capable of
      responding to the demands of the human family through
      binding international rules," said the 81-year-old
      pope, who spoke after meeting privately with U.N.
      Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

      He said the notion of multilateral consensus was "in
      crisis because it is still subordinated to the
      decisions of a few, whereas the world's problems call
      for interventions in the form of collective action by
      the international community."

      While Benedict did not mention any country, this
      appeared to refer to the United States, which led the
      2003 invasion of Iraq despite a Security Council
      refusal to approve it.

      The Vatican strongly opposed the recourse to war.

      Benedict, who met U.S. President George W. Bush during
      his Washington visit, called for "a deeper search for
      ways of pre-empting and managing conflicts by
      exploring every possible diplomatic avenue, and giving
      attention and encouragement to even the faintest sign
      of dialogue or desire for reconciliation."


      In an apparent reference to the conflict in the
      Sudanese region of Darfur, the pope said every state
      had the "primary duty" to protect its citizens from
      human rights violations and humanitarian crises but
      outside intervention was sometimes justified.

      "If states are unable to guarantee such protection,
      the international community must intervene with the
      juridical means provided in the United Nations Charter
      and in other international instruments," he said.

      The pope called human rights, particularly religious
      freedom, "the common language and ethical substratum
      of international relations," and added that promoting
      human rights was the best strategy to eliminate

      "Indeed, the victims of hardship and despair, whose
      human dignity is violated with impunity, become easy
      prey to the call to violence, and they can then become
      violators of peace," he said in an apparent reference
      to social causes of terrorism.

      Benedict called for religious freedom to be protected
      against secularist views and against majority
      religions that sideline other faiths -- an apparent
      reference to Muslim states where some Christian
      minorities report discrimination.

      "It should never be necessary to deny God in order to
      enjoy one's rights," he said.

      Diplomats from some 200 states gave him a standing
      ovation when he ended his speech by reading the phrase
      "peace and prosperity" in the six official languages
      of the United Nations -- English, French, Spanish,
      Arabic, Chinese and Russian.

      Later, in the U.N. meditation room, he met U.N.
      staffers and wrote in the visitors' Golden Book a
      quote from the Prophet Isaiah: "Erit opus iustitiae
      pax" -- Latin for "Justice will bring about peace."

      Later on Friday, the German-born pope was due to visit
      a New York synagogue just before the start of the
      Jewish Passover holiday. He will also visit a
      Manhattan parish founded by German immigrants in 1873.

      The pope arrived in Washington on Tuesday on his first
      visit to the United States as pontiff.

      On Thursday, he held a surprise meeting with victims
      of sexual abuse by priests in a bid to heal scars from
      a scandal that deeply tarnished the Catholic Church in
      the United States.

      Some three dozen protesters outside the U.N.
      headquarters held banners including one reading "Child
      sexual abuse is worse than terrorism."

      One group wore T-shirts with the legend "Save 50
      million children from sexual abuse by Catholic

      (Additional reporting by Christine Kearney; editing by
      Tom Heneghan and Frances Kerry)

      (For more on religion, see the Reuters religion blog
      FaithWorld at http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld )
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