updated 9/29/2004 6:02:58 PM ET 2004-09-29T22:02:58

The Vatican, in its first speech ever to the U.N. General Assembly, called Wednesday for a total ban on human cloning and criticized the war in Iraq and unilateral responses to terrorism.

Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary of the Holy See’s relations with states, spoke in broad terms and did not mention the U.S.-led coalition that invaded Iraq or the nations that had acted unilaterally against terrorists. He referred to Pope John Paul II’s fervent opposition to the war in Iraq.

“Everyone can see that it [military action] did not lead to a safer world, either inside or outside Iraq,” he said as the assembly’s two-week annual ministerial session neared an end.

He stressed, however, that it was imperative to support Iraq’s new government in bringing normalcy and democracy to the country.

Regarding terrorism worldwide, Lajolo said nations had to work together to tackle the growing scourge.

“It seems obvious that terrorism can only be effectively challenged through a concerted multilateral approach ... and not through the politics of unilateralism,” he said.

The fight against terrorism requires long-term action against terrorism’s underlying causes, Lajolo said, adding that the Roman Catholic Church aids in that work by promoting mutual understanding among religions.

First address ever at U.N.
The Vatican has had an observer mission at the United Nations since 1964 and Pope John Paul II visited the General Assembly 25 years ago, but the Holy See has not addressed the assembly during the ministerial meeting before.

That is a privilege reserved for states that are members of the United Nations, now 191 in all, and granted to observers only when the members vote to do so.

The member states approved a resolution during the previous General Assembly session granting the Vatican the right to participate in the debate and in many other activities at the United Nations.

The Holy See did not seek full membership, which automatically includes the right to vote in the assembly or to propose candidates for U.N. positions, preferring instead to remain a permanent observer, along with the Palestinians.

In his speech Wednesday, Lajolo called for an international convention that would lead to a comprehensive ban on human cloning.

The Holy See, he said, supports the advances of medical science through the use of adult stem cells. The General Assembly is to resume its debate on human cloning in the coming weeks.

To fight poverty and promote development, the Vatican called for a more just system of international trade, foreign debt cancellation for the poorest countries and “generously shared” scientific research and technology, particularly on matters of health.

“The urgency of the situation cannot tolerate delay,” Lajolo said. “It is a question of justice, not of charity, even if the need for charity remains and will always remain.”

In addition to a broad call for disarmament, he spoke about specific conflicts.

The archbishop urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to work harder toward the “road map” peace plan proposed by the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia.

“May they proceed along it with determination and courage,” he said, adding that “there can be no justice without forgiveness. Indeed, without mutual forgiveness.”

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