Speeches 1995 - United Nations Headquarters (New York)






Baltimore, Maryland

Sunday, 8 October 1995

Dear Friends in Christ!

1. " Caritas Christi urget nos" (2Co 5,14). For more than fifty years Catholic Relief Services has worked to put into practice the mandate which the Church has received from her Lord: "to bring glad tidings to the poor... to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and release to prisoners" (Lc 4,18). My Pastoral Visit to Baltimore gives me the opportunity to express my profound gratitude to your organization and to those who support it by their prayers and their generous contributions. Above all, I give thanks to Almighty God, who makes it possible for you to bear witness to the truth that "faith working through love" (cf. Gal. Ga 5,6) is the sign of authentic discipleship.

Catholic Relief Services is known for the effective and innovative programs of assistance which it sponsors throughout the world. Ever ready at a moment’s notice to help the victims of natural disasters and peoples burdened by poverty, famine, epidemics and war, you are inspired by a firm commitment to the rich tradition of Catholic social doctrine – the aim of which is "the defense of the human person and the safeguarding of human dignity" (John Paul II, Centesimus Annus CA 3). In fact, the Church’s sacred duty of proclaiming the Gospel "to all creation" (Mc 16,15) includes her teaching on the moral and religious implications of political, economic and social life.

2. The first principle of the Church’s social teaching, from which all others derive, is that the human person is and ought to be "the origin, the subject and the purpose of all social institutions" (Gaudium et Spes GS 25). Each individual without exception is created "in the image of God" (cf. Gen. Gn 1,27) and redeemed by the Blood of Christ. In a world scarred by religious divisions and national rivalries, Catholic Relief Services testifies to the unity of the human family and to the equal and inalienable dignity of each and every person. Its projects in Bosnia–Hercegovina, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Rwanda and Vietnam – to name but a few of its most recent initiatives – faithfully reflect the Organization’s declared purpose to assist people "on the basis of need, not creed, race or nationality" (Mission Statement).

The splendor of Christ’s glory is reflected in the face of every human being, and is even more so when that face is emaciated by hunger, saddened by exile, or oppressed by poverty and misery (cf. Mt. Mt 25,31-46). With courage and compassion, Christians must be ever attentive to the cry of the poor, serving the Lord who is present in their suffering. As an indispensable condition for the preparation of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, "how can we fail to lay greater emphasis on the Church’s preferential option for the poor and the outcast?" (John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente TMA 51).

3. The truth about human dignity teaches us a correct vision of society. Since the beginning of my papal ministry, I have repeatedly affirmed the importance of social solidarity as an instrument for building up the civilization of love for which humanity yearns. Solidarity involves "a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good, that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all" (John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 38). While solidarity is first lived in the communion of the family, and then in the community and nation, it has a universal openness to the entire human family.

Unfortunately, the Church faces obstacles which hinder the practice of solidarity on a world level, including forms of isolationism which tend to weaken the sense of international responsibility. Other challenges come from ideologies which preach racial hatred and religious intolerance. Inspired by Christ’s teaching and example, Catholic Relief Services’ commitment to international solidarity echoes the assurance of the Lord of history: "As often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me" (Mt 25,40).

4. Dear brothers and sisters: your determined efforts to meet the needs of the countless number of people around the world who turn to you for help bear eloquent testimony to the Christian virtue of charity. As you know, relieving the sufferings of the many modern Calvaries which clamor for your attention and help means not only working to alleviate immediate suffering, but also, in the light of the Gospel, striving to foster self–respect and solidarity among the poor themselves. The best kind of assistance is that which encourages the needy to become the primary artisans of their own social and cultural development.This approach respects the authentic "subjectivity" of people, enabling them to share in that "subduing" of creation (cf. Gen. Gn 1,28) by which humanity prepares the way for the coming of the Kingdom of God.

It is in this regard that there is a need for innovative strategies and creative approaches to resolving the structural problems of underdevelopment which themselves are often the result of insensitivity and injustice. Responding to this challenge, then, represents an important facet of Catholic Relief Services’ work, which should always be carried out in strict observance of the Church’s social teaching.

5. As Pastor of the universal Church I wish to express my thanks for your tireless work on behalf of "the Lord’s poor". I gladly entrust Catholic Relief Services – its benefactors, staff and volunteers – to Mary, the loving Comforter of the Afflicted, and I make my own the prayer of Saint Paul: "May the Lord increase you and make you overflow with love for one another and for all" (1Th 3,12). With my Apostolic Blessing.






Baltimore, Maryland

Sunday, 8 October 1995

Dear Cardinal Keeler,
Dear Archbishop Borders and my Brother Bishops,
Dear Friends,

1. In this Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, in the final hours of my visit, I entrust the results of my presence at the United Nations and my pilgrimage to the Church in Newark, Brooklyn, New York and Baltimore to the intercession of the Mother of the Redeemer. I warmly greet you all, in particular Cardinal Keeler, Pastor of this local Church. Through the representatives of the hundred and sixty–two parishes, and of the various Archdiocesan organizations and agencies, I greet the whole Catholic community. I extend the hand of friendship to the members of other Christian communities and to the Jewish and Muslim guests, as well as to the representatives of the universities and colleges in the Baltimore area, and to the federal, state, and local public officials present.

2. Maryland holds a special place in the history of American Catholicism, indeed in the religious history of the nation. It was here that religious freedom and civic tolerance were enshrined in the American experience, just as in recent times Maryland has been a pioneering area in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.

Today, religious tolerance and cooperation among Americans cannot simply be a pragmatic or utilitarian undertaking, a mere accommodation to the fact of diversity. No, the source of your commitment to religious freedom is itself a deep religious conviction. Religious tolerance is based on the conviction that God wishes to be adored by people who are free: a conviction which requires us to respect and honor the inner sanctuary of conscience in which each person meets God. The Catholic Church wholly supports this conviction, as the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council proclaimed in the historic Declaration on Religious Freedom.

The challenge facing you, dear friends, is to increase people’s awareness of the importance for society of religious freedom; to defend that freedom against those who would take religion out of the public domain and establish secularism as America’s official faith. And it is vitally necessary, for the very survival of the American experience, to transmit to the next generation the precious legacy of religious freedom and the convictions which sustain it.

3. Catholic education has left a lasting imprint on your community, from the days of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton to the present. I am confident that all of you – Bishops, priests and people of the Archdiocese of Baltimore – understand the importance of continuing, indeed of expanding, that eminent tradition of Catholic education, in your parishes, your high schools, your colleges and universities. Catholic schools, historically and as a matter of duty, have made a substantial contribution to society by giving special attention to economically disadvantaged segments of society. I hope that you will continue to look for ways of ensuring the continuation of this essential service, despite the financial burdens it entails. Catholic education serves the future of all Americans, by teaching and communicating the very virtues on which American democracy rests.

Other forms of Catholic education have become a notable feature of the life of this local Church: the extensive programs of religious education for children in public schools; your work in adult catechesis, as in the Renew program; the Emmaus program and other programs of continuing education for priests. I encourage you in all of these efforts and I urge you to look to the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" as a sure guide in conforming such programs to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith.

4. To the members of the various Christian denominations present, may I say that, as we approach the Third Millennium and the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, we must all the more earnestly strive to heal the wounds of the past. I encourage everyone to strengthen and extend the ecumenical dialogue that has been for so long a hallmark of this community. We need to explore together how we might present ourselves before the Lord as a people solidly on the road to the unity for which Christ prayed on the night before he gave his life for our salvation (cf. Jn. Jn 17,21).

To all believers in the One True God I express the respect and esteem of the Catholic Church. As I said at the United Nations, the world must learn to live with "difference", if a century of coercion is to be followed by a century of persuasion. I assure you, dear friends, that the Catholic Church is committed to the path of dialogue in her relations with Judaism and Islam, and I pray that, through that dialogue, new understanding, capable of securing peace for the world, may be forged.

You have shown in this community how dialogue and cooperation can lead to improvements in civic life: in the work you have done together to promote the teaching of moral values in the public schools, and in providing housing for the poor. May that work be blessed, and may it increase, as your dialogue of faith deepens in the years ahead.

5. In the Gospels, Jesus presents himself as one who serves (cf. Mt. Mt 20,28). The Church too, which is the Body of Christ, is a servant Church, accompanying suffering humanity on its pilgrim way through time. The work of Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities here in Baltimore bears witness to that commitment to service. I wish to thank these agencies for their work, and I encourage them to expand their outreach even as they deepen their Catholic identity, formed by Catholic social doctrine.

Our commitment to the dignity and value of all human beings is the reason why the ecclesial community establishes such things as soup kitchens, provides shelter for the homeless and medical care for the poor, counsels those addicted to drugs and alcohol, and helps people to participate more fully in the life of society. When Cardinal Lawrence Shehan of Baltimore publicly defended the civil rights of African Americans almost thirty years ago, he was expressing a moral truth about the equal dignity before God of all human beings. The same conviction leads his successors and should compel all of you today to defend the right to life of every human being from conception to natural death, to care for and protect the unborn and all those whom others might deem "inconvenient" or "undesirable". That moral principle is not something alien to America, but rather speaks to the very origins of this nation!

6. Dear Friends: The world looks to America in the hope of finding a model of a free and virtuous society. To make this land of freedom a hospitable home for all its people is still a challenge, and increasingly so. It is important to peoples around the world that you, citizens of the United States, succeed in making American society a more perfect embodiment of its commitment to liberty and justice for all.

God bless all of you.

God bless America.






Baltimore-Washington International Airport (Baltimore, Maryland)

Sunday, 8 October 1995

Dear Mr Vice–President,
Dear Friends,
Dear People of America,

1. As I take leave of the United States, I wish to express my deep and abiding gratitude to many people.

To you, Mr. Vice–President, for graciously coming here to say goodbye. To the Bishops of the Dioceses I have visited and the many people, who have worked so hard to make this visit a success. To the public authorities, to the police and security personnel, who have ensured efficiency, good order and safety.

To the representatives of the various Churches and Ecclesial Communities, who have received me with great good will; to Americans of all races, colors and creeds, who have followed with interest and attention the events of these days; to the men and women of the communications media, who have labored diligently to bring the words and images of this visit to millions of people; and especially to all those who, personally present or from afar, have supported me with their prayers.

I express to the Catholic community of the United States my heartfelt thanks! In the words of Saint Paul: "I give thanks to my God every time I think of you – which is constantly in every prayer I utter" (Ph 1,3).

2. I say this, too, to the United States of America: today, in our world as it is, many other nations and peoples look to you as the principal model and pattern for their own advancement in democracy. But democracy needs wisdom. Democracy needs virtue, if it is not to turn against everything that it is meant to defend and encourage. Democracy stands or falls with the truths and values which it embodies and promotes.

Democracy serves what is true and right when it safeguards the dignity of every human person, when it respects inviolable and inalienable human rights, when it makes the common good the end and criterion regulating all public and social life. But these values themselves must have an objective content. Otherwise they correspond only to the power of the majority, or the wishes of the most vocal. If an attitude of skepticism were to succeed in calling into question even the fundamental principles of the moral law, the democratic system itself would be shaken in its foundations (cf. John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae EV 70).

3. The United States possesses a safeguard, a great bulwark, against this happening. I speak of your founding documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. These documents are grounded in and embody unchanging principles of the natural law whose permanent truth and validity can be known by reason, for it is the law written by God in human hearts (cf. Rom. Rm 2,25).

At the center of the moral vision of your founding documents is the recognition of the rights of the human person, and especially respect for the dignity and sanctity of human life in all conditions and at all stages of development. I say to you again, America, in the light of your own tradition: love life, cherish life, defend life, from conception to natural death.

4. At the end of your National Anthem, one finds these words: "Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust!’ ".

America: may your trust always be in God and in none other.

And then, "The star–spangled banner in triumph shall wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave".

Thank you, and God bless you all!



Clementine Hall

Thursday, 12 October 1995

Dear Cardinal Hickey,

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am pleased to welcome you, the members of the John Carroll Society, and I greet you in the love of the Lord. Since my recently concluded visit to the United States did not permit the Pope to go to Washington, Washington has come to the Pope!

It is only right to thank you for the work which you do to bring authentic Gospel values to the different sectors of American society: in this, you are truly "ambassadors for Christ" (2Co 5,20). Your expertise, in whatever field it may lie, is of greatest service to the Kingdom when you use it to convert human hearts. As Jesus himself taught us, the real evil to be feared – whether personal or collective, whether social, political or economic – comes from the heart (Mt 7,21). The remedy, therefore, must also involve a change of people’s hearts. The more open we are to Christ’s truth, to his joy and peace, the more effectively will his grace work in us, spilling over into the lives of others and transforming society.

My fervent wish for you, and in particular for Cardinal Hickey, is that your pilgrimage to Rome will renew you in faith, hope and love, and strengthen you in your witness to the Gospel of Life. Commending you to the powerful protection of Mary, the Lord’s chosen Handmaid, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.




Consistory Hall

Thursday, 12 October 1995

Your Eminence,

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. I wish to thank you, Your Eminence, for the cordial greetings you have extended to me on behalf of the Bishops who have taken part in the Seminar Programme organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

I am deeply grateful for the spirit of fraternal communion and filial devotion manifested by the Pastors of the young Churches who have just completed a period of study here in Rome. It is a special grace for me this morning to tell you in person of my profound admiration and brotherly affection for you.

Because you are impelled by the love of Christ to proclaim the Gospel in all its power, you generously accepted to devote three weeks to a systematic theological reflection on the meaning and mission of the Episcopal Ministry. I am pleased to thank the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples for having organized this timely programme of pastoral renewal. It is my wish that this initiative be continued in the future so that Bishops from other language groups may share a similar experience.

2. Bishops are called to be "witnesses of Christ before all people" (Christus Dominus CD 11), building up the Body of Christ in holiness, justice and truth. As "stewards of the grace of the supreme priesthood" (Lumen Gentium LG 26), your mission is to sanctify the flock entrusted to your care. Holiness of life is of the essence of the Church’s ministry and mission. The evangelical demand of the call to holiness is especially urgent in this period in which we are preparing for the Great Jubilee celebrating Christ’s Redemptive Incarnation.

This is what the Spirit is saying to all the Churches (Ap 2,7): "As he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in your conduct; since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’" (1P 1,15-16).

Bishops are privileged to be mediators of that holiness which is poured forth into people’s hearts by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom. Rm 5,5). By the vigour of their preaching, the fervour of their sacramental celebration and the prudence of their pastoral government they lead men and women to Christ. Is not he – and he alone – the only Saviour, the one Mediator between God and humanity (cf. 1Tm 2,5)? I pray that you will encourage everyone – families, youth, priests, men and women religious–to be ever more ardent in their commitment to the Gospel.

3. Nor can we forget that because people are moved more by the witness of life than by the power of words, they have a right to see in their Pastors men whose entire lives are centred on Jesus Christ. They expect that, like the first Apostles, who were the first witnesses to the Life, Death and Resurrection of the Lord, we too will transmit what we "have seen with our eyes... looked upon and touched with our hands" (1Jn 1,1). It therefore falls to the Successors of the Apostles to hand on what they themselves have received. They build up a local community of believers by preaching the Word of God in the light of the Church’s authoritative teaching and by celebrating the sacraments which communicate the grace of Redemption.

4. Here I cannot fail to mention the importance of the difficult and delicate task of inculturation, a task necessary so that the Gospel may take root in the various places where you exercise your ministry. This urgent priority presents a great challenge to evangelization: the transformation of cultures, purifying them in the light shed by the Paschal Mystery (cf. John Paul II, Ecclesia in Africa ).

If inculturation is to be authentic, it must always respect the fullness of the received deposit of faith and be carried out in communion with all the Churches, especially this See of Peter which "presides over the universal communion of charity" (St. Ignatius Antioch, Ad Romanos, prooem).

5. Dear Bishops of the young Churches: you are certainly aware of the weighty responsibilities entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts Ac 20,28). But do not be afraid! The Lord tells us that his yoke is easy and his burden light (cf. Mt. Mt 11,30). The Eternal Shepherd accompanies your mission and the Holy Spirit is continually at work through your ministry.

This morning it is above all the goodness and grace of the Lord which I wish to recall. He who is mighty has done great things for you (cf. Lk. Lc 1,49). For this we must give God thanks and praise! The Churches over which you preside are alive and exuberant with the freshness of youth, and your enthusiasm for the Gospel is an inspiration for Christians throughout the world. As Pastor of the universal Church I am profoundly grateful to you and your people for the witness of your dedication to Christ, your courage in suffering, and your zeal in living the Good News.

Commending you to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, I invoke an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon you and upon all the priests, religious and lay faithful of your particular Churches, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.



Clementine Hall

Friday, 13 October 1995

Dear Bishop Sullivan,
Dear Friends in Christ,

I am pleased to meet this Pilgrimage of Faith from the Diocese of Richmond, on the occasion of the hundred and twenty–fifth anniversary of the founding of the Diocese and Bishop Sullivan’s twenty–fifth Anniversary of Episcopal Consecration.

You have wished to come to Rome, to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, in order to express and strengthen the bonds of faith and love between your local Church and the See of Peter, to which has been entrusted, in the words of the Second Vatican Council, the "mission to provide for the common good of the universal Church and for the good of the individual churches" (Christus Dominus CD 21).

I hope and pray that your visit will indeed confirm you in the one, holy and apostolic faith. In my recent visit to your country I had the joy of celebrating this faith in union with many of the faithful. Our shared task, at the approach of the Third Millennium, is to live our Catholic heritage more fully and more deeply, and to communicate it whole and entire to the younger generation. May God pour forth his gifts upon you and your families. May he bless your Diocese and your country.



23 October 1995

Mr Chairman,
Mr Director General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I gladly welcome the distinguished participants in the Twenty-eighth Conference of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, making your now traditional visit to the See of Peter. Because this year marks the Fiftieth Anniversary of FAO, I am especially pleased that, despite your busy schedule, you did not wish to miss this occasion - a custom which was been honoured at meetings of the Conference since FAO settled in Rome in 1951.

Through you, Mr Chairman, I offer warm good wishes to the Delegates and Representatives of the member States, and extend a special welcome to the new members of your Organization which more than ever reflects a world which, in spite of often painful divisions, has an increasing need to unite around common objectives.

I thank you, Mr Director-General, and renew my esteem for your generous commitment during the first phase of your mandate, which also involves the difficult but necessary task of restructuring the Organization.

2. It is not by chance that the beginning of FAO coincided with the formation of that broader Organization, the United Nations, whose ideals inspired FAO and with whose activity it is associated. The establishment of FAO was thus intended to emphasize the complementarity of the principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations: true peace and effective international security are achieved not only by preventing wars and conflicts, but also by promoting development and creating conditions which ensure that basic human rights are fully guaranteed.

3. The Fiftieth Anniversary celebration of FAO offers a suitable occasion to reflect on the international community's commitment to a fundamental good and duty: the freeing of human beings from malnutrition and the threat of starvation. As you have pointed out in the recent Quebec Declaration, it cannot be forgotten that at the origins of FAO there was not only a desire to strengthen effective cooperation among States in a primary sector such as agriculture but also the intention to find ways to guarantee sufficient food for the whole world, through sharing the fruits of the earth in a rational way. By setting up FAO on 16 October 1945, the world community hoped to eradicate the scourge of famine and starvation. The enormous difficulties still involved in this task must not be allowed to diminish the firmness of your commitment.

Even today tragic situations are unfolding before our eyes: people are dying of starvation because peace and security have not been guaranteed. The social and economic situation of the contemporary world makes us all aware of the extent to which the hunger and malnutrition of millions of people are the result of evil mechanisms within economic structures, or are the consequence of unjust criteria in the distribution of resources and production, policies formulated in order to safeguard special interest groups, or different forms of protectionism. Furthermore, the precarious situation in which whole peoples find themselves has led to a mobility of such alarming dimensions that it cannot be dealt with by traditional humanitarian assistance alone. The question of refugees and displaced persons gives rise to dramatic consequences at the level of agricultural production and of food security, affecting the nutrition of millions of people. FAO's action in recent years has shown that the provision of emergency help for refugees is not enough; this kind of assistance does not bring a satisfactory solution as long as conditions of extreme poverty are allowed to continue and become even more acute, conditions which lead to increased deaths due to malnutrition and hunger. The underlying causes of such situations have to be addressed.

4. Ladies and Gentlemen: the Fiftieth Anniversary celebrations furnish us with the opportunity to ask why international action, despite the existence of FAO, has been unable to alter this state of affairs. At the world-wide level sufficient food can be produced to satisfy everyone's needs. Why then are so many people threatened by starvation?

As you are well aware, there are many reasons for this paradoxical situation in which abundance coexists with scarcity, including policies which forcibly reduce agricultural production, widespread corruption in public life, and massive investment in sophisticated weapons systems to the detriment of people's primary needs. These and other reasons contribute to the creation of what you call "structures of famine". Here we are speaking of the mechanisms of international business by which the less favoured countries, those most in need of food, are excluded in one way or another from the market, thus preventing a just and effective distribution of agricultural products. Yet another reason is that certain forms of assistance for development are made conditional on the implementation by poorer countries of policies of structural adjustment, policies which drastically limit those countries' ability to acquire needed foodstuffs. Nor can a serious analysis of the underlying causes of hunger overlook that attitude found in the more developed countries, where a consumerist culture tends to exalt artificial needs over real ones. This has direct consequences for the structure of the world economy, and for agriculture and food production in particular.

These many reasons have their source not only in a false sense of the values which should sustain international relations, but also in a widespread attitude which emphasizes having over being. The result is a real inability on the part of many to appreciate the needs of the poor and the starving; indeed, to appreciate the poor themselves in their inalienable human dignity. An effective campaign against hunger thus calls for more than merely indicating the proper functioning of market mechanisms or attaining higher levels of food production. It is necessary, first and foremost, to recover a sense of the human person.In my Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations on 5 October last, I pointed to the need to build relationships between peoples on the basis of a constant "exchange of gifts", a real "culture of giving" which should make every country prepared to meet the needs of the less fortunate (John Paul II, Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations, 14, 5 Oct. 1995).

5. In this perspective, FAO and other bodies have an essential role to play in fostering a new sense of international cooperation. During the last fifty years it has been the merit of FAO to promote people's access to land, thus favouring agricultural workers and fostering their rights as a condition for raising production levels. Food assistance, often exploited as a way of exerting political pressure, has been modified by means of a new concept: food security, which considers the availability of food not only in relation to the needs of a country's population, but also in relation to the productive capacity of neighbouring areas, precisely with a view to the rapid transfer or exchange of foodstuffs.

In addition, the concern which the international community shows for environmental issues is reflected in FAO's involvement in activities aimed at limiting damage to the ecosystem and safeguarding food production from phenomena such as desertification and erosion. The promotion of effective social justice in relations between peoples entails the awareness that the goods of Creation are meant for all people, and that the economic life of the world community should be oriented to sharing those goods, their use and their benefits.

Today it is more necessary than ever for the international community to recommit itself to fulfilling the primary purpose for which FAO was established. Daily bread for every person on earth - that "Fiat panis" which FAO refers to in its motto - is an essential condition of the world's peace and security. Courageous choices must be made, choices made in the light of a correct ethical vision of political and economic activity. Modifications and reforms of the international system, and of FAO in particular, need to be rooted in an ethic of solidarity and a culture of sharing. To direct the labours of this Conference to this end can be a most fruitful way of preparing for the important meeting of the World Summit on Nutrition which FAO has scheduled for November 1996.

6. In all these efforts the Catholic Church is close to you, as attested to by the attention with which the Holy See has followed the activity of FAO since 1948. In celebrating this Fiftieth Anniversary with you, the Holy See wishes to demonstrate its continuing support for your endeavours. A symbolic sign of this support and encouragement will be the bell to be placed in the FAO headquarters as a remembrance of the establishment, fifty years ago, of the Family of the United Nations. Bells symbolize joy; they announce an event. But bells also ring out a call to action. On this occasion, and in the context of FAO's activity, this bell is meant to call everyone - countries, different International Organizations, all men and women of good will - to even greater efforts to free the world from famine and malnutrition.

The words inscribed on the base of the bell evoke the very purpose of the United Nations system: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Is 2,4). These are the words of the Prophet Isaiah, who proclaimed the dawn of universal peace. But, according to the Prophet, this peace will come about -and this has great meaning for FAO - only when "they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks" (ibid). For only when people consider the struggle against hunger as a priority, and are committed to providing everyone with the means of gaining their daily bread instead of amassing weapons, will conflicts and wars come to an end and humanity be able to set forth on a lasting journey of peace.

This is the sublime task to which you, the Representatives of the Nations and the leaders of FAO, are called.

Upon your work and upon FAO, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God, ever rich in mercy.

Speeches 1995 - United Nations Headquarters (New York)