UN, Vatican 'share common goals and ideas'

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets Pope Francis at the Vatican. Photo by: Rick Bajornas / U.N.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Pope Francis underlined a joint effort to attain peace, social justice and the Millennium Development Goals worldwide in the first meeting between both leaders since the new pontiff was appointed in March.

The two world leaders met on Tuesday in the Vatican City to mark the continuation of a history of cooperation between the U.N. and the Holy See.

The Vatican, while not a member state, is a Permanent Observer to the U.N. with access to its events and texts.

According to the Holy See, the meeting forms a part of the long line of audiences granted by Roman Catholic popes to the successive U.N. heads to express their appreciation for the central role of the world body “in the preservation of peace in the world, promotion of the common good of humanity and defense of fundamental human rights.”

Ban, among the first world leaders to meet the new pontiff, asked Francis for support on his five-year program to promote international solidarity, conflict prevention, and equitable and sustainable economic development.

While the two institutions have clashed in the past on reproductive health issues, the U.N. Secretary-General believes that cooperation between the two institutions to advocate social justice and hasten action to meet the Millennium Development Goals is vital in order to attain “the millennium promise for the world’s poorest.”

Both leaders also discussed the current conflict and humanitarian emergencies in Syria, the Korean Peninsula and parts of Africa, as well as human trafficking and the challenges facing refugees and migrants.

“The Holy See and the U.N. share common goals and ideas,” said Ban, who praised Francis’ interest in poverty reduction and interfaith dialogue.

“I strongly believe that interfaith dialogue can point the way to a deeper appreciation for shared values which in turn can lead to tolerance, inclusion and peace,” the U.N. chief told reporters, according to a statement from the world body.

Ban invited Pope Francis to visit the United Nations headquarters in New York to continue their discussions in the future.

The Vatican, one of the largest care providers for HIV/AIDS patients worldwide, has also recently helped citizens and refugees affected by conflict in Syria and Congo.

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    Johanna Morden

    Johanna Morden is a community development worker by training and a global development journalist by profession. As a Devex staff writer based in Manila, she covers the Asian Development Bank as well as Asia-Pacific's aid community at large. Johanna has written for a variety of international publications, covering social issues, disasters, government, ICT, business and the law.