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Sec.-Gen. Speech at the Church of the Holy Family

New York, 15 September 2008 - Secretary-General Remarks at the Church of the Holy Family (As Prepared)

As Prepared

Your Eminence, Cardinal Egan,

Your Excellency, Archbishop Migliore,

Pastor Robbins,

Father Chang,

Dear friends,

Every year before the start of the General Assembly, the United Nations community has the privilege of attending this beautiful prayer service. For that, my colleagues and I are deeply grateful.

But even more important, we in the UN value your efforts all year round. By reaching out with a message of peace and solidarity, you promote some of the very principles that guide the United Nations.

Pastor Robbins recently delivered a homily about how all life is interconnected. The more we accept the fact that what happens in one part of the world ultimately affects all others, the more we realize that we share a collective – and solemn – responsibility for the future of our planet as a whole.

People understand the world's economic interdependence. We call it globalization. The decision of a commodities trader in New York affects a farmer in Africa. The parts of a single car come from many different countries. The banking crisis in one market wreaks havoc in another.

But we are not only connected as producers and consumers. All of the major problems threatening our world – like poverty, hunger, terrorism and environmental degradation – show how our destinies are interlinked.

We face a development emergency. The twin crises of food and fuel make it harder for families to get enough to eat. More and more people are being driven into poverty. That is why I am convening a High-level Event this month to push world leaders to get back on track to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

We are at the critical moment. We know from experience that we can succeed. What is lacking is the global leadership and will.

I would say the same for another crisis facing us. I say “crisis” deliberately. Climate change is less in the news than last year. Yet the evidence is all around that the problem is worse than most predictions.

This in turn spawns humanitarian crises – Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, the hungry in Haiti, the millions of people facing starvation in the Horn of Africa.

Our response must be global. The United Nations is working to help Governments forge international solutions to problems that transcend national borders.

But we realize that Governments cannot do the job alone. We need all of our partners in this monumental effort to address the global challenges of our time. The faith community, non-governmental organizations, businesses and other partners in civil society are crucial to overcoming the modern challenges we face.

In all these ways, you help the UN through the immeasurable power of prayer. We are tremendously uplifted by your support – and we are depending on you even more in the future.

So please continue prayers for the United Nations: that we can forge the broad coalition of partners we need to tackle all the world's ills, and that together we succeed for the sake of all the world's people.

Thank you very much.


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