Holy See’s Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer to the
United Nations, was in New York yesterday to take part in a General
Assembly meeting gathered to explore counter terrorism strategies. The
prelate stressed the need not only for political solutions, but also
cultural and religious ones.
Archbishop Migliore began his address to the world body by first recalling the words of Pope Benedict XVI who, earlier this year, called on men and women of good will to unite in order to overcome the phenomenon of terrorism and build a just and peaceful society.
The Vatican representative said that the Pope feels “consideration should be given” not only to the political and social causes of terrorism, “but also to its deeper cultural, religious and ideological motivations."
For this reason, he said that the Holy See "is pleased to note that" the United Nations report on the subject "incorporates a cultural and religious component in its global strategy."
He stressed that "The Holy See is willing to support initiatives that encourage believers to be agents of peace. ... Moreover, when religion's true nature is rightly understood and lived out, it can become part of the solution rather than the problem."
He went on, saying that the United Nations should "encourage religions to make this important contribution on their own terms: that is, religions are called to create, support and promote the precondition of every encounter, every dialogue, and of every understanding of pluralism and cultural difference. That precondition ... is the dignity of the human person.”
This fact, the archbishop said, is of particular importance because "Our common human dignity is a true precondition because it comes before every other consideration or methodological principle, even those of international law. We see it in the 'Golden Rule,' found throughout the religions of the world."
In this light, he said that "Encouraging awareness and experience of this common heritage ... will surely help in the translation of this positive vision into political and social categories which will, in their turn, inform the juridical categories linked to national and international relations."
Stealing the wind from terrorists
Likewise, the U.N. observer pointed out that "the political, social and economic exclusion of immigrant communities stokes the frustration of young people and has led to breakdowns in order in some places; but the demand for a just solution to these questions remains a legitimate one.
"By resolving such questions swiftly and justly,” he said, “nations can rob terrorists of the oxygen of hatred and of grievances, real or imagined, by which they attempt to legitimize their evil deeds and recruit the impressionable."
“Counter-terrorism”, Archbishop Migliore said in closing, “must be characterized by denying the moral high ground to terrorists. This is just one reason why the treatment of terrorists and suspects should be according to international humanitarian norms."