Speaking at the United Nations office in Nairobi, Kenya, Pope Francis said on Thursday that working together is necessary to conquer problems, whether in the realms of politics, health, or development. No country “can act independently of a common responsibility. If we truly desire positive change, we have to humbly accept our interdependence, Pope Francis said Nov. 26, repeating his words from an Address to Popular Movements this July. The Pope was in Kenya Nov. 25-27 as part of a larger African tour that will also take him to Uganda and the Central African Republic later this week. “The problem arises whenever we think of interdependence as a synonym for domination, or the subjection of some to the interests of others, of the powerless to the powerful,” the Pope explained to those gathered at the U.N. hall. “What is needed is sincere and open dialogue, with responsible cooperation on the part of all: political authorities, the scientific community, the business world and civil society.” When politics, science and business work together, with the “human person and human dignity the point of departure and the goal of everything,” he said, substantial change can occur. Such a shift requires not only political and technical solutions, the Holy Father said, but also “a process of education which proposes new ways of living. A new culture… a culture of care — care for oneself, care for others, care for the environment.” This new culture will shape humanity’s response on challenges ranging from blood diamonds and organ trafficking to malaria and environmental concerns, he said. On his way to the hall, the Pope was asked to plant a tree in the United Nations Centre park. “I was happy to carry out this simple symbolic act, which is so meaningful in many cultures,” he said, adding that the act is both “an invitation to continue the battle against phenomena like deforestation and desertification” and “an incentive to keep trusting, hoping, and above all working in practice to reverse all those situations of injustice and deterioration which we currently experience.” He noted the upcoming climate change conference in Paris, saying, “It would be sad, and I dare say even catastrophic, were particular interests to prevail over the common good and lead to manipulating information in order to protect their own plans and projects.” The Pope called for the upcoming conference to help develop a new energy system “which depends on a minimal use of fossil fuels, aims at energy efficiency and makes use of energy sources with little or no carbon content.” At the same time, the poor and underprivileged must be taken into account, he said. Therefore, the upcoming conference must have “three complex and interdependent goals: lessening the impact of climate change, fighting poverty and ensuring respect for human dignity.” He warned that “the culture of deterioration and waste” has human victims, questioning whether the modern world is “growing accustomed to the suffering of others, as if it were something normal.” The Pope drew attention to an increasing number of migrants fleeing poverty that is aggravated by environmental degradation. He also warned of urbanization accompanied all too often by social breakdown, drug trafficking and use, violence, and a loss of identity. Efforts must be made, he said, to work for the right to land, lodging and labor, as well as to promote city planning and maintenance that take into account views of local residents and alleviate poverty. Regarding medical developments, the Pope said that treaties dealing with intellectual property, especially in the areas of pharmaceutics and biotechnology, should ensure that all people have access to basic medical treatment, regardless of poverty or location. “Certain health issues, like the elimination of malaria and tuberculosis, treatment of so-called orphan diseases, and neglected sectors of tropical medicine, require urgent political attention, above and beyond all other commercial or political interests,” he added. “In the context of economic relationships between States and between peoples, we cannot be silent about forms of illegal trafficking which arise in situations of poverty and in turn lead to greater poverty and exclusion,” he continued. “Illegal trade in diamonds and precious stones, rare metals or those of great strategic value, wood, biological material and animal products, such as ivory trafficking and the relative killing of elephants, fuels political instability, organized crime and terrorism.” Concluding, the Pope stressed the importance of “regional cooperation,” offering prayers that such joint efforts “may be vigorously pursued and always take into account the common good of the sons and daughters of this land.”
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