U.N. Needs a Fitting Reform, Says Papal Household Theologian

Cardinal Cottier Comments on Pope's Message for World Day of Peace

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 22, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Papal Household theologian said that John Paul II's call for a reform of the United Nations is a conclusion firmly rooted in the evolution of the Church's social doctrine.



In a conversation with ZENIT, Cardinal Georges Cottier focused on one of the issues the Pope addresses in his message for the 2004 World Day of Peace: the need for a new international order.

In the text, the Holy Father writes that "the United Nations organization needs to rise more and more above the cold status of an administrative institution and to become a moral center where all the nations of the world feel at home and develop a shared awareness of being, as it were, a family of nations."

"States must consider this objective as a clear moral and political obligation which calls for prudence and determination," the Pope adds.

The papal message does not ask the United Nations to become a kind of super-state, but to undergo "a reform which would enable" it "to function effectively for the pursuit of its own stated ends."

In this connection, Cardinal Cottier said that "the social doctrine of the Church has made a very interesting evolution politically."

"From the time of John XXIII's encyclical 'Pacem in Terris,' there is an awareness that the important political and economic problems are posed at the world level," the Swiss cardinal said.

"Including at the political level, the inspiration of the Gospel helps human reason to understand the need for institutions that are proportional to the unity of the human race," he added.

"Therefore, there is a need for an authority that is above the states," he said. "Despite the fact that the Church knows well the limits and frailties of the United Nations, she has always supported the idea that the United Nations intervene, for example, in conflicts."

The papal message recalls the origins of the United Nations and the Security Council, as well as the conditions provided in international law for recourse to force.

For this reason, the United Nations must have "a stronger authority to intervene, to defend the rights of man, to struggle against poverty, etc.," Cardinal Cottier explained.

"It is a novelty that matured at the time of Vatican Council II, perhaps even earlier, but it is also a very important aspect of the teaching of this pontificate," he concluded.