Madam President of the Security Council,
Mr Secretary General,
Dear Brother, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I thank you for this kind invitation to speak to you, which I gladly accepted because we live in a crucial moment for humanity, where peace seems to give way to war. Conflicts are on the rise and stability is increasingly threatened. We are living through a third world war which is taking place in a dispersed order and which, over time, seems to be spreading more and more. This Council, which has the mandate to safeguard security and peace in the world, sometimes seems helpless and paralyzed in the eyes of people. However, your work, much appreciated by the Holy See, is essential in order to promote peace. It is precisely for this reason that I wish to invite you from the bottom of my heart to confront our common problems, putting aside ideologies and narrow visions, ideas and partisan interests, and to cultivate a single objective: to work for the good of all mankind. Indeed, it is expected of this Council that it respects and applies “the Charter of the United Nations in transparency and in all sincerity, without ulterior motives, as an obligatory point of reference of justice and not as an instrument to mask unacknowledged intentions (1).
Today’s globalized world has brought us all closer together, but it hasn’t made us any more brotherly. Indeed, we suffer from a famine of fraternity, which results from the many situations of injustice, poverty and inequality, as well as from the absence of a culture of solidarity. “The new ideologies, characterized by diffuse individualism, egocentrism and materialistic consumerism, weaken social bonds, feeding this ‘waste’ mentality, which leads to contempt and abandonment of the weakest, of those who are considered “useless”. Thus human living together becomes increasingly similar to a simple do ut des pragmatic and selfish” (2). But the worst effect of this famine due to the lack of fraternity is armed conflict and war, which transform enemies not only of individuals but of entire peoples, and whose negative consequences will reverberate from generation to generation. By creating the United Nations, it seemed that the world had learned, after two terrible world wars, to move towards a more stable peace, to finally become a family of nations. But it seems that we are going back in history, with the rise of short-sighted, extremist, aggressive and resentful nationalisms that have triggered conflicts that are not only anachronistic and outdated, but even more violent (3).
As a man of faith, I believe that peace is God’s dream for mankind. However, I note with sadness that because of the war, this wonderful dream is turning into a nightmare. Certainly, from an economic point of view, war is often more attractive than peace, insofar as it promotes profit, but always for a few at the expense of the well-being of entire populations. The money acquired by arms sales is therefore money stained with the blood of the innocent. It takes more courage to give up easy profits in the name of peacekeeping than to sell ever more sophisticated and powerful weapons. It takes more courage to seek peace than to wage war. It takes more courage to promote encounter than confrontation, to sit down at the negotiating table than to pursue hostilities.
In order for peace to become a reality, we must get out of the logic of the legitimacy of war: if this was valid in ancient times when the framework of war was more limited, today, with nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, the battlefield has become virtually limitless and the effects are potentially catastrophic. The time has come to say a definite ‘no’ to war, to affirm that wars are not just, but that only peace is just: a stable and lasting peace, built not on the precarious balance of deterrence, but on the brotherhood that unites us. Indeed, we are all brothers and sisters, traveling on the same land, inhabiting one common home, and we cannot darken the sky under which we live with the threat of nationalisms. Where will we end up if everyone thinks only of themselves? Those who strive to build peace must therefore promote brotherhood. Building peace is an art that requires passion and patience, experience and foresight, tenacity and dedication, dialogue and diplomacy. And also listening: listening to the cries of those who suffer because of wars, especially children. Their eyes full of tears judge us: the future we prepare for them will be the court of our current choices.
Peace is possible if it is truly desired! Peace must find in this Security Council “its fundamental characteristics, which an erroneous conception makes it easy to forget: peace must be rational and not passionate, magnanimous and not selfish; peace must be neither inert nor passive, but dynamic, active and progressive, according as the just demands of equitable human rights, such as they have been defined, call for new and better expressions of them; peace must not be weak, inept and fragile, but strong, as much because of the moral reasons which justify it, as because of the massive adhesion of the nations which must support it” (4).
There is still time to write a new chapter of peace in history: we can do it so that war is a thing of the past and not of the future. The discussions within this Security Council aim and serve this objective. I want to stress again a word that I like to repeat, because I consider it decisive: fraternity. Fraternity cannot remain an abstract idea, but must become a real starting point: indeed, it is “an essential dimension of man, who is a relational being. The keen awareness of being in relationship leads us to see and treat each person as a true sister and a true brother; without this, the construction of a just society, of a solid and lasting peace becomes impossible” (5).
I assure you of my support, my prayers and those of all the faithful of the Catholic Church in favor of peace and in favor of any peace process and initiative. I sincerely hope that not only this Security Council, but also the entire United Nations Organization, its Member States and each of its representatives, may always be of effective service to humanity, assuming the responsibility to preserve not only their own future, but also that of all, and by having the audacity to increase henceforth, without fear, what is necessary to promote fraternity and peace throughout the planet. “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt 5:9).