Vatican City, Dec 5, 2016 / 12:02 pm
Pope Francis endorsed a recent conference dedicated to the conservation and restoration of art and heritage within the Middle East as a means to defend the rights of the human person.
The Pope gave his support for the Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage Conference, which occurred at Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, on Dec. 2-3. Supported by UNESCO, France and the UAE set up the conference in hopes of protecting the heritage of the countries torn by war within the Middle East.
Identifying the theme as "unfortunately starkly current," the Pope said that "the protection of cultural treasures constitutes an essential dimension in the defense of what it is to be human."
In countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, and Syria – each exposed to centuries of war – looting, destruction to cultural monuments, and illicit trading are commonplace. Within these cultures, all of which extend over a millennium back, many culturally significant pieces and property have already been damaged or obliterated. National Geographic has reported on specific pieces which have faced or are facing extinction, including the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan, Afghanistan, and the toppled statues of the Mosul Museum in Iraq by ISIS militants.