15 SEPTEMBER 2015
|"LAUDATO SI." POPE FRANCIS, WORLD LEADER
Amongst over 120 Heads of State and Governments arriving September in New York to address U.N. General Debate, Pope Francis stands out as a most prominent world leader directly
confronting relevant pressing issues facing the international community.
In a recent encyclical, "Laudato Si" -- a phrase from Saint Francis of Assisi's Umbrian dialect meaning "Praise to You," he highlighted Climate Change not only as a threat to
social habitat but also as a culprit in degrading the quality of life and escalating poverty.
While certain vested interests tried to undercut it, the encyclical received worldwide attention and overwhelming popular support. Before that, he issued "Lumen Fidel" -- Light of
Faith -- reminding authorities everywhere of a higher authority drawing from multi-denominational human faith. Concern for the soul was matched with concern for physical survival of
Pope Francis did not limit his role to impressive pronouncements. He took prompt action not only to face internal structural and management issues within the Vatican Catholic
domain, but offered his good offices to facilitate mediation and ease tension.
An open attempt to encourage a Palestinian-Israeli accord to alleviate the plight of the Palestinian people while ensuring the security of Israel within its borders was the tip of
a diplomatic iceberg. His valuable mediation to re-establish U.S.-Cuban relations, particularly through messages discreetly handled by Cuban Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega had a
valuable bearing on a historic normalization. It is no secret by now that Cardinal Ortega, on 14 August 2015, communicated helpfully with all sides during the preparations to raise
the respective national flags in Washington, D.C. and Havana. Pope Francis' discreet contacts with other religious and political leaders of other faiths, including Iran, other Moslem
personalitities and, of course, Greek Orthodox Patriarchs helped
in averting confrontations and redeploy attention to more immediate threats. The gracious welcome he extended to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Rome earlier this year
signaled a refreshing push for an effective, inclusive role by the world's singularly inclusive body. His visit to U.N. Headquarters -- and the U.S., it's Host Country, together with its
home city of New York -- deserves a special salute as it raises the hope of a sharper focus on peaceful ways to highlight a better quality of life.