Faith at the UN: Pope Benedict’s Proposal
When Pope Benedict addressed the UN General Assembly in April 2008, he said his presence was “a sign of esteem for the United Nations.” What was the reason for the Pope’s esteem, for his “faith” in the UN? This essay by William DeMars, an expert in the field of humanitarianism, examines Pope Benedict’s message at the UN to find an answer. The essay reveals a central proposition to world leaders: that the human person is the only reasonable basis for faith in the UN’s role of promoting peace and justice. The Pope’s approbation also came with a warning: the controversial and competitive version of rights now promoted at the UN is so out of step with the true nature of rights that, left unchecked, it renders the noble task of the UN unachievable and even unintelligible. According to DeMars, Pope Benedict proposes that a unity of nations in solidarity and peace is only achievable “if we seek something infinite, above and beyond ourselves.” Such a recognition was at the heart of the UN founding principles.