Friday, May 9, 2014


Below please find the full text of Pope Francis’ address to the UN delegation
Mr Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you, Mr Secretary-General and the leading executive officers of the Agencies, Funds and Programmes of the United Nations and specialized Organizations, as you gather in Rome for the biannual meeting for strategic coordination of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board.

It is significant that today’s meeting takes place shortly after the solemn canonization of my predecessors, Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. The new saints inspire us by their passionate concern for integral human development and for understanding between peoples. This concern was concretely expressed by the numeous visits of John Paul II to the Organizations headquartered in Rome and by his travels to New York, Geneva, Vienna, Nairobi and The Hague.

I thank you, Mr Secretary-General, for your cordial words of introduction. I thank all of you, who are primarily responsible for the international system, for the great efforts being made to ensure world peace, respect for human dignity, the protection of persons, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, and harmonious economic and social development.

The results of the Millennium Development Goals, especially in terms of education and the decrease in extreme poverty, confirm the value of the work of coordination carried out by this Chief Executives Board. At the same time, it must be kept in mind that the world’s peoples deserve and expect even greater results.

An essential principle of management is the refusal to be satisfied with current results and to press forward, in the conviction that those gains are only consolidated by working to achieve even more. In the case of global political and economic organization, much more needs to be achieved, since an important part of humanity does not share in the benefits of progress and is in fact relegated to the status of second-class citizens. Future Sustainable Development Goals must therefore be formulated and carried out with generosity and courage, so that they can have a real impact on the structural causes of poverty and hunger, attain more substantial results in protecting the environment, ensure dignified and productive labor for all, and provide appropriate protection for the family, which is an essential element in sustainable human and social development. Specifically, this involves challenging all forms of injustice and resisting the “economy of exclusion”, the “throwaway culture” and the “culture of death” which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted.

With this in mind, I would like to remind you, as representatives of the chief agencies of global cooperation, of an incident which took place two thousand years ago and is recounted in the Gospel of Saint Luke (19:1-10). It is the encounter between Jesus Christ and the rich tax collector Zacchaeus, as a result of which Zacchaeus made a radical decision of sharing and justice, because his conscience had been awakened by the gaze of Jesus. This same spirit should be at the beginning and end of all political and economic activity. The gaze, often silent, of that part of the human family which is cast off, left behind, ought to awaken the conscience of political and economic agents and lead them to generous and courageous decisions with immediate results, like the decision of Zacchaeus. Does this spirit of solidarity and sharing guide all our thoughts and actions?

Today, in concrete terms, an awareness of the dignity of each of our brothers and sisters whose life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death must lead us to share with complete freedom the goods which God’s providence has placed in our hands, material goods but also intellectual and spiritual ones, and to give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier unjustly refused to others.

The account of Jesus and Zacchaeus teaches us that above and beyond economic and social systems and theories, there will always be a need to promote generous, effective and practical openness to the needs of others. Jesus does not ask Zacchaeus to change jobs nor does he condemn his financial activity; he simply inspires him to put everything, freely yet immediately and indisputably, at the service of others. Consequently, I do not hesitate to state, as did my predecessors (cf. JOHN PAUL II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 42-43; Centesimus Annus, 43; BENEDICT XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 6; 24-40), that equitable economic and social progress can only be attained by joining scientific and technical abilities with an unfailing commitment to solidarity accompanied by a generous and disinterested spirit of gratuitousness at every level. A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world’s peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.

Consequently, while encouraging you in your continuing efforts to coordinate the activity of the international agencies, which represents a service to all humanity, I urge you to work together in promoting a true, worldwide ethical mobilization which, beyond all differences of religious or political convictions, will spread and put into practice a shared ideal of fraternity and solidarity, especially with regard to the poorest and those most excluded.

Invoking divine guidance on the work of your Board, I also implore God’s special blessing for you, Mr Secretary-General, for the Presidents, Directors and Secretaries General present among us, and for all the personnel of the United Nations and the other international Agencies and Bodies, and their respective families.

Text from page,_serve_the_poor/en1-797707
of the Vatican Radio website


Anonymous said...

"... and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society." I do wish that Pope Francis would invite Arthur Laffer and Thomas Sowell to the Vatican for a Economics lesson. Wealth is not be "redistributed", ever. You put in place an economy that allows equal access to success and encourage people to provide charity to those less fortunate. Imposing redistribution on people is not honest, was never taught by Christ and results in corrupt politicians exploiting the goal for their own benefit and lust for power. Francis' statement is being received with beaming grins in the White House.

Gene said...

So, FR, I said the same thing as Anonymous, but you didn't post mine…I'm crushed…LOL!

rcg said...

I would only disagree with Anonymous on one point: wealth is always to be redistributed. There is the proper and constant redistribution of free markets that allow the free movement of wealth by free people not only to people who have earned it, but charitably to those who need it. The inequalities stem only from the governments the Holy Father mistakes in the most grave manner as being capable of distributing wealth fairly. This is such seriously bad thinking by the Pope I am afraid it actually foolish.

Catholic said...

The popes have condemned government imposed wealth redistribution as violative of the commandment against stealing.

Christians are obligated to redistribute their wealth voluntarily through the giving of alms.

Anselm said...

Forcing "Christian" redistribution through government sanction is an unconstitutional establishment of religion and forces the Christian message and Christian behavior on on-Christians, thus violating Dignitatis humanae para. 2.

Anonymous said...

One can only wonder who actually wrote this speech. It's really embarrassing for the Church to be represented this way.

Gene said...

Henry, that is this Pope's "liberation theology," Third World ideology coming out. It is going to get worse…trust me.

Pater Ignotus said...

"Catholic" - You are incorrect regarding imposed redistribution.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, #300: "In some countries a redistribution of land as part of sound policies of agrarian reform is indispensable in order to overcome the obstacles that an unproductive system of latifundium - condemned by the Church's social doctrine (Populorum Progressio #23) places on the path of genuine economic development."

Populorum Progressio #23: "23. "He who has the goods of this world and sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of God abide in him?" (21) Everyone knows that the Fathers of the Church laid down the duty of the rich toward the poor in no uncertain terms. As St. Ambrose put it: "You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich." (22) These words indicate that the right to private property is not absolute and unconditional.

No one may appropriate surplus goods solely for his own private use when others lack the bare necessities of life. In short, "as the Fathers of the Church and other eminent theologians tell us, the right of private property may never be exercised to the detriment of the common good." When "private gain and basic community needs conflict with one another," it is for the public authorities "to seek a solution to these questions, with the active involvement of individual citizens and social groups."

The "Public Authorities" mentioned here are governments - local, regional, and/or national. They may, and in some cases, must, redistribute private property for the sake of the Common Good.

Gene said...

"Common good" is a vague and meaningless term, subject to dangerous abuse and stupid theological interpretations.

Catholic said...

Oh, I'm sorry "Ignotus." I forgot you are a retrospective sedevacantist, believing that the Roman See was vacant from St. Peter up until the election of Pope Paul VI.

For those of us who take a more holistic approach to papal hermeneutics, Leo XIII is a decent place to start for an accurate understanding of the Church's social teaching.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - "Common Good" is used regularly by the Church in Her magisterial statements. You can understand its meaning, if you desire.

Start with the following passages in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Common Good -

meaning and end of, 1906, 1912, 1925

Continue with

the Church and, 2246, 2420, 2458

conditions of, 1907-09, 1924-25

good of each individual and, 801, 951, 1905, 2039

legitimate civil authority and, 1888, 1897-98, 1901-03, 1921-22, 2238, 2309, 2406, 2498

private property and, 2401, 2403

among others.

No, "Common Good" is not vague and meaningless. You don't like the idea, so you post baseless statements that do not reflect the Church's teaching.

Catholic said...

Actually, "Pater Ignotus" what you've included there further bolsters Gene's point. As you can see, even the CCC contains many definitions of the term "common good" that are dependent on context, i.e. in "the Church" and "good of each individual." A phrase is vague if it depends on the surrounding context to give it meaning. From what you've said, that's exactly how the phrase is used (and intended) in the CCC.

The question, then, is whether that vagueness is a bad thing or not. It probably is in this connection because it has other, unintended meanings when used in political speak or economic speak. In other words, it is a phrase easily co-opted for the use of the speaker and is not refined enough for use in a technical, meaningful sense.

Gene said...

Common good is a term from ethical/political philosophy that was never well-defined. The discussions of Common Good predate the CCC.

Pater Ignotus said...

"Catholic" - Any phrase is dependent on context for meaning, not just "Common Good."

And any phrase is easily co-opted by any one who wants to misuse it. This doesn't mean that the phrase, as used and defined by the Church, is vague.

Catholic said...

So do you think that what you wrote somehow disproves my assertions, "Pater Ignotus"?

Pater Ignotus said...

"Catholic" - Your suggestion that "Common Good" is vague because it has to be understood in context is like saying that water is wet and expecting there to be a rush of folks who will congratulate you for making an amazing discovery...

Catholic said...

"Pater", so that's a "no," then. You have no way to actually refute me or Gene. Got it.

Anonymous said...

Reading many of the sections in the CCC regarding common good, private property and civil authority I would conclude that the Church teaches that the State has no right to “redistribute wealth” that has been justly earned by an individual’s honest labor/vocation (1907, 1925, 2401 and 2431-2436). #1908 could be used by liberal demagogues to claim that the Church wants gov’t to be a provider of charity with tax dollars. I don’t read it that way. Francis did say that he wants “legitimate” redistribution. Maybe he meant that we should confiscate from Hollywood millionaires, trial lawyers, porno peddlers and pro death medical practitioners? I would agree with him in that case. But to imagine that you can trust politicians and bureaucrats with justly determining which animals are more equal than others is a recipe for equally distributed poverty. The CCC presumes that most gov’ts are just and God believing authority. We live in a world where that presumption is a dangerous one to make.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Taxes are the way that wealth is redistributed. We've had that since day one in this country and more so in Europe under monarchies. The Church when it was the state and when it wasn't anymore has always seen government as a means to care for the poor by using the monies of those who have it by taking it from them.
Do any of us really think that if we did not pay any taxes whatsoever, income or on purchases or the like that we'd give that same amount or more to agencies helping the poor?

Anonymous said...

Taxes have been a means to fund what are the appropriate actions and responsibilities of gov’t. Those were very limited at one time and have expanded exponentially. The Federal gov’t was about 5% of GDP prior to FDR’s reign and now it is 20%+. All gov’t in our country is about 40% of the economy. So, you see that when you allow politicians to define what their rightful role is, you end up with more gov’t, less Church and an underprivileged class that never seems to go away, but gets worse. The sooner that clergy recognize that there has been an inverse relationship that is an expansion of gov’t and the decline of the Church the sooner we might reverse the momentum of the secularists. Gov’t is the worst possible way to solve the problems of the poor. If we want to feed the hungry we had better do it through private charity. If that requires a mandatory contribution to private charities then so be it. I’d much rather give the potion of my tax dollars to the local food pantry and medical clinic then send it to Washington D.C. and then have them send it back to Chicago after layers of bureaucrats have siphoned off 2/3ds of the funds. I don’t believe the word redistribution shows up in the CCC? Mike

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

A just society doesn't rely simply on the Church or any religion to take care of the poor. And there are different levels of poor. Some are quite capable of pulling themselves out of their poverty if there are jobs and training for jobs. I'm the type that if I lost my job and couldn't find one, I'd go to work mopping floors if I had too, even with my advanced degrees.

But then we have poor people who are compromised in one way or the other and those who are mentally ill and really should be institutionalized. Who pays for this? We do through the redistribution of wealth through taxes. Yet, these kinds of programs have been cut and mental institutions emptied because of governmental cut-backs. this began under Reagan and we now have the problem of street people that was not seen prior to these cuts.
If I were poor, I would find it somewhat humiliating to have to rely on the church and food pantries for my basic food needs. Food stamps are a just and honorable way to help poor families.

Maybe because I've had poor in my family and my Italian mother came from a poor family and lost what little they had during the war, I am more sympathetic to the plight of the poor and the government helping their citizens in this regard. The separation of Church and state in helping the poor is not Catholic dogma, not Catholic doctrine and not even Catholic theology. It is purely American and purely political and secular.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the mentally ill is not to be blamed on Reagan. That was a policy put in place by Carter when he made it more difficult to institutionalize people. That legislation is what emptied people into the streets. Don’t forget that poverty went down under Reagan.
I wrote that private charities are a better way to achieve success in helping poor people, not simply the Church. You’re a priest for whom I have the utmost respect, but I now understand why the history of the Democrat party and the Catholic Church is what it is. My belief is that gov’t as I see it today is a wonderful tool of the devil and that he has used it effectively to diminish the role of the Church. I wish you would see the same. Mike

George said...

One can differ on how that poor are to be served and how poverty can be alleviated. Government has a role. I believe things would be better today if the Federal government, instead of setting up Medicaid, would have established a voucher system whereby the poor could purchase their own insurance premium like everyone else.
I'm thinking this would have bent the cost curve down below where it is today.