The Catholic Church and the United Nations
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH has supported the United Nations and taken part in its work from the beginning. The Holy See has permanent observer status at the UN in New York, the Office of the United Nations in Geneva, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in Paris.
The Vatican also has a member delegate at the International Atomic Energy Agency and at the UN Industrial Development Organization in Vienna. In 1997 it became a member of the World Trade Organization.
Pope John Paul II has given the international body enthusiastic support many times in his pontificate and urged Catholics to participate in its activities. Right: gift from the Holy Father to the United Nations
"I renew the wish so often expressed that in the new millennium the United Nations itself may become a more effective instrument of development, solidarity and peace in the world. A strong United Nations Organization would ensure the recognition that there are human rights which transcend the will of individuals and nations." (Discourse of John Paul II to UN Food and Agriculture Organization (F.A.O.) November 18, 1999)
The pope has frequently praised the basic norm of the United Nations: its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In his first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis (1979), he described it as a "magnificent effort" to establish the rights of persons, includ-ing the freedom of religion (No. 17).
Addressing the United Nations on Oct. 2, 1979, the pope spoke of the universal declaration as "a milestone on the long and difficult path of the human race." In his U.N. address of Oct. 5, 1995, he called the declaration "one of the highest expressions of the human conscience of our time."
Besides the Holy See, many Catholic groups -- especially religious communities -- participate in the UN as Non-Government Organizations, and in that capacity influence the work of this world body.
also in this issue:
email questions or comments