A prayer service on the occasion of the opening of the Sixty-Seventh Session of the United Nations General Assembly was held at Holy Family Church in Manhattan this evening.
In his remarks, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon quoted from comments made by Pope Paul VI at Holy Family Church on October 4, 1965: “The work of peace is not restricted to one religious belief, it is the work and duty of every human person, regardless of his religious conviction.”
Mr. Ban added: “I believe it (a better world) is out there for all the people of this world to grasp if we labor and dream and pray for it together.”
Commentary: Mr. Ban seems like a good and decent man — trying to do the right thing. And yet the Sixty-Sixth Session of the UN General assembly saw member states support resolutions and revolutions that disregarded the sovereignty of the recognized states of Libya and Syria — under the guise of responsibility to protect. In fairness to Mr. Ban, various member states acted on their own in the killing of Gaddafi. The Arab Uprising, with its philosophy of destruction, has more in common with the Russian Revolution than the American Revolution.
In his 1965 address to the UN General Assembly, Pope Paul VI said: “To the pluralism of States, which can no longer ignore one another, you offer an extremely simple and fruitful formula of coexistence. First of all, you recognize and distinguish the ones and the others. You do not confer existence upon states; but you qualify each single nation as fit to sit in the orderly congress of peoples. That is you grant recognition, of the highest ethical and juridical value, to each single sovereign national community, guaranteeing it an honored international citizenship. This in itself is a great service in the cause of humanity, namely, to define clearly and to honor the national subjects of the world community, and to classify them in a juridical condition, worthy thereby of being recognized and respected by all, and from which there may derive an orderly and stable system of international life. You give sanction to the great principle that relations between peoples should be regulated, by justice, by law, by negotiation; not by force, nor by violence, not by fear or by deceit. Thus it may be.”
Mr. Ban can’t do it alone. The world needs, as he said, “voices of conscience, moderation and calm”– especially religious leaders, to be standard bearers of reason and respect, to help foster forgiveness and heal divisions.
The U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops can do more to address the injustices and disorder in American foreign policy. The question is do they see it? Hopefully there will be greater Muslim participation in future UN prayer services.