UNITED NATIONS (Oct. 2)
Pope John Paul II, in a major address to the United Nations General Assembly today, called for a comprehensive settlement of the Middle East conflict, implied approval of the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement and declared that a peace settlement “cannot fail to include the consideration and just settlement of the Palestinian question.”
He also spoke on behalf of the territorial-integrity and tranquility of Lebanon and reiterated the Vatican’s position on Jerusalem, calling for a “special statute” for that city.
Early in his speech, which he delivered in English, the Pope recalled his recent visit to the former Auschwitz death camp and urged that “everything that recalls those horrible experiences should … disappear forever from the lives of nations and states, everything that is a continuation of those experiences only in different forms … “He also declared that “All human beings in every nation and country should be able to enjoy their full rights under any political regime or system.”
SETTLEMENT OF PALESTINIAN QUESTION
In his remarks on the Middle East, the Pope said; “It is my fervent hope that a solution also to the Middle East crises may draw nearer. While being prepared to recognize the value of any concrete step or attempt made to settle the conflict, I want to recall that it would have no value if it did not truly represent the ‘first stone’ of a general, overall peace in the area, a peace that, being necessarily based on equitable recognition of the rights of all, cannot fail to include consideration and just settlement of the Palestinian question.”
The Pope said, “Connected with this question is that of the tranquility, independence and territorial integrity of Lebanon within the formula that made it an example of peaceful and mutually fruitful co-existence between distinct communities, a formula that I hope will, in the common interest, be maintained with the adjustments required by the developments of the situation.”
Continuing, the Pope said, “I also hope for a special statute that, under international guarantees — as my predecessor, Paul VI indicated — will respect the particular nature of Jerusalem, the heritage sacred to the veneration of millions of believers of the three great monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”
THE INFAMY OF AUSCHWITZ
The Pope said: “Today, 40 years after the outbreak of the Second World War, I wish to recall the whole of the experiences by individuals and victims that were sustained by a generation that is largely still alive.
“I had occasion, not long ago, to reflect again on some of those experiences, in one of the places that are more distressing and over flowing with contempt for man and his fundamental rights — the extermination camp of Auschwitz which I visited during my pilgrimage to Poland last June. This infamous place is, unfortunately, only one of many scattered over the continent of Europe. But the memory of even one should be a warning sign on the path of humanity today, in order that every kind of concentration camp anywhere on earth may, once and for all be done away with.
“And everything that recalls those horrible experiences should also disappear forever from the lives of nations and states, everything that is a continuation of those experiences only in different forms, namely the various kinds of torture and oppression, either physical or moral, carried out under any system in any land; this phenomena is all the more distressing if it occurs under the pretext of internal ‘security’ or the need to preserve an apparent peace.”
The Pope said that by invoking these memories he wants to show “what painful experiences and suffering by millions of people gave rise to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which has been placed as the basic inspiration and cornerstone of the United Nations organization.”
The Pope assailed countries — without mentioning any by name — that deprive their citizens of human rights and religious freedom. “Equality of rights means the exclusion of the various forms of privilege for some and discrimination against others, whether they are people born in the same country or people from different backgrounds of history, nationality, race and ideology,” he said. (See related story P. 3.)