////

The winds of today’s storms and their global reach

4393 views
4 mins read

In his ‘Saluto Decano’ (Greetings) addressed to Pope Francis on behalf of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Vatican, Ambassador Georgios Poulides wished the Pontiff good health and fruitful continuation of his apostolic mission.

 

By Georgios Poulides

Allow me to begin our meeting by calling to mind all those people, the elderly, women and children around the world who are suffering from wars and conflicts. Some diplomats here represent countries that are in grave situations. The third world war being fought piecemeal, which you have often referred to in recent years, is a reality increasingly evident before our saddened eyes and powerless hands.

Several times you have called us to be artisans of peace, at the service of peoples and of the common good, in order to overcome our self-interests and work towards a diplomacy of dialogue, capable of seeking what unites and setting aside what divides. I would like to thank you, Holy Father, for ceaselessly suggesting ways and actions for resolving the many problems of our world and warning us with foresight of the challenges of tomorrow for which we should begin to prepare ourselves.

Before others began to do so, you identified the winds of today’s storms and their global reach; the potential challenges that over time have taken the form of real humanitarian, climatic, economic crises and war itself, which require common and multilateral responses as you have suggested on many occasions.

You said during your trip to Hungary last April: “Peace will never come as the result of the pursuit of individual strategic interests, but only from policies capable of looking to the bigger picture, to the development of everyone: policies that are attentive to individuals, to the poor and to the future”.

The world in which we live today requires us to reflect together and invites us to believe again in the values of multilateral diplomacy. Current issues, such as the climate crisis and pressing future issues, such as the use of artificial intelligence, call for collective approaches and unity, as the consequences will be global.

On the occasion of the World Day of Peace on 1 January 2024, you suggested how “to direct techno-scientific research towards the pursuit of peace and the common good, in the service of the integral development of individuals and communities”.

Opportunities and risks

Holy Father, you are aware of the great opportunities, but also of the great risks that technological development brings. For this reason, you have indicated that it is the task of politics and international organisations to regulate the use of the new tools to which human intelligence has given rise, and to focus on fundamental ethical and human values.

From the beginning of your Pontificate, you have directed particular attention to the emerging climate crisis.

Eight years after the publication of the encyclical Laudato Si’, in light of the international community’s all too slow progress and of the intensification of extreme climate events, you felt the need to respond by publishing the Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum, on 4 October 2023. Environmental destruction, climate change, increasingly frequent floods and fires with apocalyptic characteristics afflict all of humanity.

But those who suffer the greatest consequences are the most vulnerable people in our societies. To quote your words: “This is a global social issue and one intimately related to the dignity of human life”. It is necessary, then, to generate “a model of multilateral diplomacy capable of… establishing global and effective rules that can permit ‘providing for’ this global safeguarding”.

This appeal was also reiterated at the ‘COP28’ UN Conference of the Parties in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December 2023: “You are responsible for crafting policies that can provide concrete and cohesive responses… In the end, the purpose of power is to serve”.

During your visit to Mongolia you also called for a collective effort to protect our common home. You invited us to rediscover harmony with our surrounding environment. The religions can do much to achieve the goal of uniting technical progress with the spiritual dimension.

On the journey you have undertaken as a “pilgrim of reconciliation and of peace”, your trips to Africa, and in particular to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, cannot go unnoticed.

Exploitation

On the native continent of humanity, in this diverse land of incredible biosphere and subsoil resources, there is still much exploitation. That is why, as you said at the meeting with the authorities in Kinshasa: “Room needs to be made for diplomacy that is authentically human, for a diplomacy where peoples are concerned for other peoples, for a diplomacy centred not on control over land and resources… but rather on providing opportunities for people to grow and develop”.

In Juba, South Sudan, you brought an ecumenical message of peace and hope. Speaking to the hearts and minds of its people, who for years have been suffering the devastating consequences of the continuing effects of the conflict, you urgently asked for “a change of direction, an opportunity… to resume sailing in calm waters, taking up dialogue”.

Allow me to express a wish to the peoples of that extraordinary land by borrowing your words: “May Africa be the protagonist of its own destiny”.

On this ideal journey that you have traced for us by your footsteps imprinted on the lands of our planet and on the spiritual fields of our souls, we must also remember how many lose their lives in migrations, fleeing from wars and conflicts, moving from arid lands and urban centres without prospects, and how many of them, unfortunately, encounter death in the Mediterranean.

You have unceasingly urged the international community, especially Europe, to return to the founding values of community thinking. In Marseille at the conclusion of the work of the “Rencontres Méditerranéennes”, you called for open thinking that might oppose the “shipwreck of civilisation” and allow this sea to become not a cemetery or barrier, but a “laboratory of peace” and a place of welcome.

During the meeting with the younger generations in Lisbon on the occasion of the 37th World Youth Day, you recognised in young people a strength and positive energy that can change the future of our ailing planet.

How urgently we need it, for the main artisans of this change are the youth of the world.

What we need is an intergenerational dialogue that does not “cancel the past”, but fosters “bonds between young and old”. Only in this way is there hope of creating a good politics “that corrects economic imbalances and invests in the future with foresight”.

On behalf of the diplomatic family accredited to the Holy See, which I represent as Dean, I would like to thank you for the strength you have given us in the past year and for expressing confidence that, in this suffering world of ours, a better future is possible.

Thank you Holy Father for your tireless work, which gives hope to so many peoples, to so many men and women.

 

Georgios F. Poulides is Ambassador of Cyprus and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See