Challenge those who do violence in religion’s name
Publication Date: 2017-02-10
Vatican’s representative to the UN speaks to Scottish interfaith gathering
Challenge those who do violence in name of religion, the Vatican’s man at the UN told Scots of all faiths this week.
Archbishop Bernardito ‘Barney’ Auza, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, was addressing an interfaith group in Edinburgh on January 6 where he said religions had a vital role in building peace around the world and the Catholic Church, is a key part of fixing the biggest problems of the age.
“My message is positive,” he said. “While it would be naïve to think persistent religious prejudice is gone, religion still carries a vital moral importance for our times.”
The Archbishop, who was born in the Philippines, said that religious leaders had a duty to stand against those who used faith to justify violence.
“States may fight these terrorist groups militarily but we have a duty to fight them morally, to convert them away from malevolence, to reject violence. And the Catholic Church can take a lead on this!”
He said that under Pope Francis the Catholic Church was helping to bring peace to many troubled parts of the globe.
“The UN just paid tribute to the Bishops of the Congo acknowledging their work to build peace there,” he said. “We see the same work in Colombia, Cuba, in Venezuela it is more difficult but the will for dialogue is there.”
He also said that Pope Francis’ focus on the environment had helped convince many world leaders to accept the Paris Agreement on climate change.
“[Former UN secretary general] Ban Ki-moon, was very appreciative of the Holy Father’s push for the Paris agreement,” he said. “His role was very strong.”
The archbishop told the SCO that the world would have to wait and see what the impact of the new wave of populist leaders like Donald Trump was.
“Some of these leaders have said hostile things about the UN for example,” he said. “President [Rodrigo] Duterte in my own Philippines has said negative things about the UN, he has threatened to leave the UN, but he hasn’t yet! But we will have to wait and see what plays out, not jump to conclusions based on snippets.
“I believe that the UN, despite its flaws, is the best vehicle for a better form of international relations. And the values at its core, like peace and respect for human rights, are primary concerns for the Church.”
Before going to the UN, Archbishop Auza had been the apostolic nuncio to Haiti and served as administrator of the diocese of Port-au-Prince after its bishop was killed in the 2010 earthquake.
“It was a very challenging time, it wasn’t an easy place to work,” he said. “There was great suffering there, and Church has a very big role in life there—it runs many schools, hospitals. I learned a lot about international development. What works and what doesn’t.
Working in Haiti and earlier in Albania, directly in the face of poverty and suffering, has informed how I think about international cooperation, so I am thankful for those experiences, which I carry with me in my work at the UN.”
—This story ran in full in the February 10 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.