Vatican City

20 December 2019

Remarks of the Secretary-General Following Meeting with His Holiness Pope Francis [as delivered]

Muchísimas gracias, Santo Padre, por esta tan calida bienvenida.
[Thank you very much, Holy Father, for your very warm welcome.] 

You are a messenger for hope and humanity – for reducing human suffering and promoting human dignity. 

Your clear moral voice shines through – whether you are speaking out on the plight of the most vulnerable, including refugees and migrants … confronting poverty and inequalities … appealing for disarmament… building bridges between communities … and, of course, highlighting the climate emergency through your historic encyclical, ‘Laudato Si’, and so many other vital efforts.

These messages coincide with the core values of the United Nations Charter – namely to reaffirm the dignity and worth of the human person. 

To promote love of people and care for our planet. 

To uphold our common humanity and protect our common home.

Our world needs that more than ever.

Coming to Rome from the COP25 in Madrid, I call on all countries around the globe to commit to carbon neutrality by 2050, in line with what the scientific community tells us is necessary to rescue the planet.  

Your Holiness,

I am very grateful for your exceptional global engagement and strong support for our work in the United Nations, including your memorable visit to the UN headquarters in 2015, as the world reached agreement on the Sustainable Development Goals, our blueprint for a fair globalization. 

And our meeting is especially meaningful during this Christmas season. 

This is a time of peace and goodwill and I am sad to witness Christian communities – including some of the world’s oldest - unable to celebrate Christmas in safety.

Tragically we see jews being murdered in synagogues, their gravestones defaced with swastikas;

Muslims gunned down in mosques, their religious sites vandalized;

Christians killed at prayers, their churches torched.

We need to do more to promote mutual understanding and tackle rising hatred. 

Your Holiness, I want to express my deep appreciation for your extraordinary service in promoting interfaith relations – including your landmark declaration with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar on “human fraternity for world peace and living together”.

This declaration is extremely important when we see such dramatic attacks on religious freedom and the lives of believers.

The United Nations has also launched a Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites and a strategy to combat hate speech.

In these turbulent and trying times, we must stand together for peace and harmony.

And that is the spirit of this season.  And that is reflected in your vision, guidance and example.

My deepest thanks to you, your Holiness, and my best wishes, to all those celebrating, for a Christmas in peace and a blessed new year.