POPE FRANCIS VISIT AT THE UN
By Franck Felix Gutenberg, US Africa News. Updated 2015-10-01
Arriving in New York on the evening of Thursday, September 24, 2015, Pope Francis was welcomed to his first time at United Nations headquarters by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday morning the 25th. During his UN visit, lasting several hours, the head of the Catholic Church met with members of the UN General Assembly, to whom he appealed for a focus on environmental protection and the fight against exclusion. "Economic and social exclusion are a total negation of human brotherhood and a very grave attack on human rights and the environment," he said before noting that " [t]hey are part of today’s widespread and quietly growing ‘culture of waste.’"
More than a hundred world leaders were expected to attend the Summit on Sustainable Development, held from 25 to 27 September at the UN. The Sustainable Development Program included 17 sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), designed especially to capstone the 15 years of poverty-fighting efforts that were begun in 2000 as part of the Millennium Development Goals.
The Pope renewed his incessant appeals for Christians and other minorities of the Middle East and Africa who “have no desire to be caught up in hatred and folly" from violent extremists. He expressed support for a UN reform to grant all countries "a share in, and a genuine and equitable influence on, decision-making processes," including in the Security Council. Finally, addressing social inequities, the Pope called on the international financial organizations to protect countries from lending systems which “subject people to mechanisms which generate greater poverty, exclusion and dependence".
The Pope called on states to find urgent and effective solutions against these problems. He welcomed "The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the World Summit,” while also stating his hope that the Paris Conference on Climate Change, to be held in December, will lead to fundamental and effective agreements. However, solemn commitments are not enough, warned the Pontiff, stressing the need to focus on their implementation. "We need to ensure that our institutions are truly effective in the struggle against all these scourges," he said.
Mogens Lykketoft, President of the UN General Assembly, noted the Pope’s emphasis on the world being united by a common concern about the future of the planet. "In two months’ time, at the Climate Conference in Paris, that unity will be tested. We can, and we must, find the wisdom and courage to adopt an ambitious [legally binding] climate agreement to protect people and planet,” he remarked in a speech.