Interesting. When a pope gives an address to the United Nations, he is really speaking to the world.

The editors of the National Review Online analyze President Obama’s speech to the UN General Assembly with several conclusions. One of them is that he was not addressing the people of the world.

Four and half thousand words into a 5,000-word speech,
Obama finally arrived at democracy and human rights with the words
“these cannot be afterthoughts.” Plainly they were. Almost nothing else
in the speech depended on them. Obama was addressing governments and
bureaucracies rather than people and peoples. There were no policies or
programs designed to strengthen popular movements against authoritarian
regimes.

By contrast (and Obama made the point of highlighting that contrast)
President George Bush spoke prominently of human rights and pointedly
of policies or programs to thwart authoritarian regimes, in his 2003 address to the UN. And he concluded:

All the challenges I have spoken of this morning require
urgent attention and moral clarity. Helping Afghanistan and Iraq to
succeed as free nations in a transformed region, cutting off the
avenues of proliferation, abolishing modern forms of slavery — these
are the kinds of great tasks for which the United Nations was founded.
In each case, careful discussion is needed, and also decisive action.
Our good intentions will be credited only if we achieve good outcomes.

As an original signer of the U.N. Charter, the United States of
America is committed to the United Nations. And we show that commitment
by working to fulfill the U.N.’s stated purposes, and give meaning to
its ideals. The founding documents of the United Nations and the
founding documents of America stand in the same tradition. Both assert
that human beings should never be reduced to objects of power or
commerce, because their dignity is inherent. Both require — both
recognize a moral law that stands above men and nations, which must be
defended and enforced by men and nations.

These words echoed Pope John Paul II’s, almost exactly, from that same platform.

“If we want a century of violent coercion to be
succeeded by a century of persuasion, we must find a way to discuss the
human future intelligibly. The universal moral law written on the human
heart is precisely that kind of “grammar” which is needed if the world
is to engage this discussion of its future.”

This week, it’s sounding more like Babel at the UN.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....