Sunday, September 18, 2005

Where is His Cassock?!

So the Cardinal-Secretary of State addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations in the black suit, rabat front and chain.

You say, "So?" I say, "NO!"

As if you needed reminding, I'm not usually the stickler for dress and deportment that others (e.g. my local confreres) are, but the General Assembly in particular is a moment where the cultural traditions of the world are manifested in their diversity, particularly in manner of dress.

If this sounds a bit over-blown, note that I have never seen Sodano out of cassock before. Ever. In my life. And that's a long time.

Whatever the dress (or lack thereof), what was ostensibly his farewell message to the international community was a very powerful, very complete one, touching on issues of poverty, UN reform, disarmament and the cause of peace.

“The poor cannot wait!” The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, borrowed a phrase from John Paul II (Chile 1987) to close his address at the Glass Palace. Participating in celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the United Nations, he voiced the impatience for UN reform felt by the world, the Holy See and by Catholics. The hope is that reform would enable the UN to work more effectively in guaranteeing peace and development to nations without hesitation, ambiguity or ideological distractions, and that it would have people and the dignity of mankind closest to its heart above policies and states.

Cardinal Sodano said the UN showed “signs of usury” and called for “institutional reform” to make its resolutions effective. Men and women of the world, he said, were “discouraged by many promises made and not kept, by resolutions adopted which do not ensure compliance.”

The Vatican secretary expressed hope that the “juridical framework” of the UN will be made more complete with legal instruments regarding “disarmament, control of weapons, the fight against terrorism and international crime, as well as effective cooperation between the United Nations and regional organisations”.

In particular the Holy See asked states to reach practical conclusions on the theme of “responsibility to protect”, especially in situations where “national authorities do not want to or cannot protect their peoples from internal or external threats”. The answer may lie in the spirit of the same UN principle of wanting to “preserve future generations from the scourge of war”.

Who knows the length of days?

PHOTO: AP/Richard Drew