Trust is needed for lasting peace, says Holy See diplomat at U.N.

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Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, left, the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations, and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla., greet people following an evening prayer service at Holy Family Church in New York City Sept. 5, 2023. The Vatican's permanent observer mission to the U.N. hosted the event, which was celebrated on the opening day of the 78th session of the U.N. General Assembly. (OSV News photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

OSV News) — Without trust, “you can’t build a lasting peace,” said Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations.

The archbishop shared his thoughts with the Archdiocese of New York’s The Good Newsroom Sept. 5 at an annual vespers prayer service for the opening of the 78th U.N. General Assembly, which commenced that day with a theme of “rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity.”

The service, which drew some 350 participants, took place at Manhattan’s Holy Family Church, dubbed the “United Nations parish” for its work in serving the spiritual needs of the U.N. community.

The Vatican at the U.N.

The Holy See’s mission has hosted the event since 1987 as part of its overall commitment to promote “peace, justice, human dignity and humanitarian cooperation and assistance.”

The Holy See established diplomatic relations with the U.N. in 1957, representing Vatican City State as well as the supreme authority of the Catholic Church, including the pope as bishop of Rome and the head of the college of bishops.

“Our voice is the voice of those who don’t have (a) voice,” Archbishop Caccia told The Good Newsroom. “We are here as (an) observer to avoid (entering) directly in the political arena, but just reminding (of) the major principles and values that are a common guide for all humanity.”

The archbishop said the Holy See’s mission at the U.N. flows from “the principle of the Incarnation.”

“Where people are, the church is there, because the God of love is for every people and in this place especially,” said Archbishop Caccia.

Russia, Ukraine and the Holy See

Amid Russia’s war on Ukraine and rising global geopolitical tensions, he stressed that “the United Nations has been created to avoid war as a means to resolve conflict.”

“There are other means, the means of dialogue, the means of negotiation, the means of listening carefully to the different reasons and necessity,” said Archbishop Caccia. “If there is a will, there is also a way, and so we are in the mood to insist on this global contribution (to the U.N.), which starts with trust in each other.”

Ambassador Dennis Francis of Trinidad and Tobago, the newly sworn-in president of the 78th session of the U.N. General Assembly, echoed the archbishop’s words.

“We gather in this room bonded by our dedication to multilateralism and in faith to building trust and peace,” he said in his remarks at the prayer service.

Celebrating ‘Pacem in Terris’

The vespers also offered an opportunity to celebrate both the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 60th anniversary of St. John XXIII’s encyclical “Pacem in Terris” (Peace on Earth), said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, who was also on hand.

The bishop described both as “important” documents that addressed “human rights and the well-being of the individual.”

In his recent addresses to the U.N., Archbishop Caccia urged a renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, from which Russia walked away in July, causing global food prices to soar. Brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July 2022, the agreement enabled vitally needed food supplies from Ukraine to reach global markets amid Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which was launched in February 2022 following aggression begun in 2014.

At U.N. sessions, the archbishop also has highlighted the importance of promoting a culture of peace in the digital era, as well as accelerating efforts to meet the U.N.’s sustainable development goals.

Gina Christian

Gina Christian is a National Reporter for OSV News.