ROME — Addressing a first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Turkey on Monday, Pope Francis laid out an aggressive vision for global action, insisting that the “gods” of money and power must not deafen the world to “the cry of the victims and those suffering.”
In a message to the U.N.-sponsored event, the pontiff ticked off several urgent challenges.
“There must be no family without a home,” Francis said, “no refugee without a welcome, no person without dignity, no wounded person without care, no child without a childhood, no young man or woman without a future, no elderly person without a dignified old age.”
The pope’s message was presented to the summit in Istanbul by the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
“Let us hear the cry of the victims and those suffering,” the pope said.
“Let us allow them to teach us a lesson in humanity. Let us change our ways of life, politics, economic choices, behaviors and attitudes of cultural superiority.”
As part of that picture, Francis warned of forces that serve to impede or delay effective humanitarian efforts.
“We cannot deny that many interests today prevent solutions to conflicts, and that military, economic and geopolitical strategies displace persons and peoples and impose the god of money, the god of power,” he said.
“At the same time, humanitarian efforts are frequently conditioned by commercial and ideological constraints,” the pope added.
In response, he called for “coordinating our strengths and initiatives, with mutual respect for our various skills and areas of expertise.”
In initiative of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the World Humanitarian Summit taking place May 23-24, is designed to bring together countries, NGOs and relief workers to address global humanitarian crises. Ki-moon has compared it to a 1941 meeting of allied governments in London, who came together to support peace and diplomacy and signed a declaration that would lead to the U.N. charter.
In his own remarks to the summit, Parolin called for an end to “sweeping conflicts” that cause destruction, massive displacement and destitution, arguing that guns don’t bring peace.
“Survivors cry out for urgent action,” Parolin said.
The Vatican’s Secretary of State said that the Holy See is “firmly convinced of the fundamentally inhumane nature of war and of the urgent necessity to prevent and to end armed conflicts and violence among people and States.”
The end to war, he continued, must be achieve through a way that respects the common ethical principles that “binds the human family” and constitute the cornerstone of all humanitarian actions.
Parolin, head of the Vatican delegation of three, which also includes Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer to the United Nations and Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, who previously held this position, made an appeal for the world to stop relying primarily on military solutions to spare future generations “from the scourges of war and armed conflicts.”
Instead, he said, solutions should be provided by investing in development, arguing it’s essential to a durable peace and security.
Speaking for the Holy See, Parolin also expressed the Church’s commitment to working alongside governments, civil society and all people of goodwill to promote disarmament and conflict prevention, and to foster “through informal and formal diplomacy, a culture of peace, active solidarity and full respect for inherent human dignity,” as well as interreligious dialogue.
“[The Vatican] will never tire working towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, banning antipersonnel mines and cluster munitions, as well as preventing the expansion and deployment of new weapons systems such as lethal autonomous weapons,” he said.
The Catholic Church has long opposed nuclear weapons, also referred to as “lethal robots,” which select and attack military targets without human intervention saying they leave to a machine the decision of life or death of a human, inducing to a total lack of accountability.
Last January, addressing the ambassadors from the more than 180 countries with which the Vatican has diplomatic relations, Francis said that he was counting on the United Nations’ First World Humanitarian Summit to succeed in “placing the person and human dignity at the heart of every humanitarian response.”
He also referred to the gathering last April, during his five-hour visit to the Greek island of Lesbos.
At the time, he made an appeal to end the causes of “the dramatic situation” which is the European migrant crisis, widely considered the worst since the Second World War.
Francis called for an end to arms trade and arms trafficking, saying that those who carry out acts of hatred and violence “must be denied all means of support.” To accomplish this, he added, “cooperation among nations, international organizations and humanitarian agencies must be tirelessly promoted, and those on the frontlines must be assisted, not kept at a distance.”
To this regard, he reiterated his “hope” that the humanitarian summit be productive.