Pope Calls for U.N. Reform- how and how much?

This month, Pope Benedict XVI released an encyclical letter, Caritas in Veritate, to bring Catholic social teaching up to date on ethical responsibilities. Among the gamut of issues he covered, he talked about the United Nations and the need for reform within it. Calling on the UN to pursue disarmament, food security and environmental conservation, the Pope expressed the need for a true world authority. He said:

"There is a strongly felt need... for a reform of the United Nations Organisation... so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth."

Many have been caught up by this declaration, construing it to be a call for a single world government. In fact, the Pope clarifies that he promotes "dispersed political authority," and wants development activities to be rooted Christian principles. Yet, his framework for such a global body reflects many noteworthy principles.

"Such an authority would need to... observe consistently the principles of... solidarity, to seek to establish the common good, and to make a commitment to securing authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth. Furthermore, such an authority would need to be... vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights... Without this, despite the great progress accomplished in various sectors, international law would risk being conditioned by the balance of power among the strongest nations."

The message to give a voice to the smaller, suppressed people and nations of the world resounds strongly in his letter- a message we would all do good to learn from.

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