Pope Preaches to the UN General Assembly

Pope Francis is welcomed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and receives flower bouquets from children of UN staff members at the start of his visit to UN Headquarters. UN Photo / Mark Garten

Pope Francis is welcomed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and receives flower bouquets from children of UN staff members at the start of his visit to UN Headquarters. UN Photo / Mark Garten

Pope Francis delivered a wide-ranging address before world leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly on Friday.

He urged global action to protect the environment and end the suffering of “vast ranks of the excluded,” saying that “human beings take precedence over partisan interests.”

“The present time invites us to give priority to actions which generate new processes in society, so as to bear fruit in significant and positive historical events. We cannot permit ourselves to postpone ‘certain agendas’ for the future,” said Pope Francis.

“The future demands of us critical and global decisions in the face of world-wide conflicts which increase the number of the excluded and those in need,” he declared in an address just ahead of the General Assembly’s formal adoption of a new global framework, Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, composed of 17 goals and 169 targets to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate over the next 15 years.

In his remarks, he also warned that the realities in the Middle East and Africa were grave.

“I must renew my repeated appeals regarding the painful situation of the entire Middle East, North Africa and other African countries,” said Pope Francis, “These realities should serve as a grave summons to an examination of conscience on the part of those charged with the conduct of international affairs.”

“Not only in cases of religious or cultural persecution, but in every situation of conflict, as in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan and the Great Lakes region, real human beings take precedence over partisan interests, however legitimate the latter may be,” he continued.

“In wars and conflicts there are individual persons, our brothers and sisters, men and women, young and old, boys and girls who weep, suffer and die.”

The Pope also noted the achievements of the UN as it celebrates its seventieth anniversary.

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