09/30/2014, 00.00
VATICAN - UNITED NATIONS
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It is "licit and urgent" to stop the aggression of terrorism, Card Parolin says at UN

The Holy See's top diplomat calls for "multilateral action and a proportionate use of force" to ensure "the defence of unarmed citizens." The theory of the "clash of civilizations" ignores "longstanding and profound experiences of good relations between cultures, ethnic groups and religions". The path to follow is to "promote dialogue and understanding among cultures," as well as a sense of "responsibility to protect".

New York City (AsiaNews) - For the Vatican, it is "licit and urgent" to stop the aggression of "transnational" terrorism through "multilateral action and a proportionate use of force" to ensure "the defence of unarmed citizens" under the jurisdiction of the Security Council, said Card Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See who yesterday addressed the 69th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.

"With the dramatic situation in northern Iraq and some parts of Syria, we are seeing a totally new phenomenon: the existence of a terrorist organization which threatens all States, vowing to dissolve them and to replace them with a pseudo-religious world government. Unfortunately, as the Holy Father recently said, even today there are those who would presume to wield power by coercing consciences and taking lives, persecuting and murdering in the name of God (cf. L'Osservatore Romano, 3 May 2014)."

"These actions bring injury to entire ethnic groups, populations and ancient cultures. It must be remembered that such violence is born out of a disregard for God and falsifies "religion itself, since religion aims instead at reconciling men and women with God, at illuminating and purifying consciences, and at making it clear that each human being is the image of the Creator" (Benedict XVI, Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See, 7 January 2013).

Criticising the theory of the 'clash of civilisations', he cardinal said that it "ignored longstanding and profound experiences of good relations between cultures, ethnic groups and religions, and interpreted through this lens other complex situations such as the Middle Eastern question and those civil conflicts presently occurring elsewhere."

"The methods adopted, likewise, have not always respected the established order or particular cultural circumstances of peoples who often found themselves unwillingly at the centre of this new form of global conflict. These mistakes, and the fact that they were at least tacitly approved, should lead us to a serious and profound examination of conscience."

Reducing the challenges of terrorism to a clash of civilisations "only leads to reactions of a xenophobic nature that, paradoxically, then serve to reinforce the very sentiments at the heart of terrorism itself. The challenges we face ought to spur a renewed call for religious and intercultural dialogue and for new developments in international law, to promote just and courageous peace initiatives."

"In the first place," the path to follow requires us to "promote dialogue and understanding among cultures" as well as the "responsibility to protect" of states under international law and the Charter of the United Nations.

"Given that the new forms of terrorism are 'transnational', they no longer fall under the competence of the security forces of any one state: the territories of several states are involved. Thus, the combined forces of a number of nations will be required to guarantee the defence of unarmed citizens. Since there is no juridical norm which justifies unilateral policing actions beyond one's own borders, there is no doubt that the area of competence lies with the Security Council."

Indeed, "the Holy See earnestly hopes that the international community will assume responsibility in considering the best means to stop all aggression and avoid the perpetration of new and even graver injustices."

"The present situation," Card Parolin went on to say, "is an occasion for the member states of the United Nations Organization to honour the very spirit of the Charter of the United Nations by speaking out on the tragic conflicts which are tearing apart entire peoples and nations. It is disappointing, that up to now, the international community has been characterized by contradictory voices and even by silence with regard to the conflicts in Syria, the Middle East and Ukraine."

"Here with you today, I cannot fail to mention the many Christians and ethnic minorities who in recent months have endured atrocious persecution and suffering in Iraq and Syria." For their sake, we must make an "unwavering commitment to respect and promote the dignity of every single person as willed and created by God. This means also respect for religious freedom, which the Holy See considers a fundamental right, since no one can be forced "to act against his or her conscience", and everyone "has the duty and consequently the right to seek the truth in religious matters".

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