U.S. Congress Supports Holy See's Presence at UN

Author: U.S. House of Representatives


U.S. House of Representatives

The Holy See was pleased to learn that on 11 July the Congress of the United States of America passed a Resolution supporting the Holy See's presence at the United Nations. The text was passed almost unanimously by roll-call vote (416 in favour, one opposed).

This Resolution is particularly important because the American Congress not only expresses its support of the Holy See's presence and activity at the United Nations, but recognizes it as a sovereign entity capable of acting In the international arena and, moreover, pays tribute to its contribution on behalf of peace and the promotion of human rights.

The Holy See is grateful to the members of the U.S. Congress and applauds the supporters of this measure for their efforts to ensure the Resolution's full acceptance.

Similar measures have already been adopted by the Chilean Senate and the Philippine Parliament in response to the position taken by several groups which have criticized the Holy See's presence at the United Nations Organization.

Here is the text of H. Con. Res. 253, submitted on 16 February and passed on 11 July.

Concurrent Resolution

Expressing the sense of the Congress strongly objecting to any effort to expel the Holy See from the United Nations as a state participant by removing its status as a Permanent Observer.

Whereas the Holy See is the governing authority of the sovereign state of Vatican City;

Whereas the Holy See has an internationally recognized legal personality that allows it to enter into treaties as the juridical equal of a state and to send and receive diplomatic representatives;

Whereas the diplomatic history of the Holy See began over 1,600 years ago, during the 4th century A.D., and the Holy See currently has formal diplomatic relations with 169 nations, including the United States, and maintains 179 permanent diplomatic missions abroad;

Whereas, although the Holy See was an active participant in a wide range of United Nations activities since 1946 and was eligible to become a member state of the United Nations, it chose instead to become a nonmember state with Permanent Observer status over 35 years ago, in 1964;

Whereas, unlike the governments of other geographically small countries such as Monaco, Nauru, San Marino, and Liechtenstein, the Holy See does not possess a vote in the General Assembly of the United Nations;

Whereas, according to a July 1998 assessment by the United States Department of State, "[t]he United States values the Holy See's significant contributions to international peace and human rights";

Whereas during the past year certain organizations that oppose the views of the Holy See regarding the sanctity of human life and the value of the family as the basic unit of society have initiated an organized effort to pressure the United Nations to remove the Permanent Observer status of the Holy See; and

Whereas the removal of the Holy See's Permanent Observer status would constitute an expulsion of the Holy See from the United Nations as a state participant; Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That the Congress—

(1) commends the Holy See for its strong commitment to fundamental human rights, including the protection of innocent human life both before and after birth, during its 36 years as a Permanent Observer at the United Nations;

(2) strongly objects to any effort to expel the Holy See from the United Nations as a state participant by removing its status as a nonmember state Permanent Observer;

(3) believes that any degradation of the status accorded to the Holy See at the United Nations would seriously damage the credibility of the United Nations by demonstrating that its rules of participation are manipulable for ideological reasons rather than being rooted in neutral principles and objective facts of sovereignty; and

(4) expresses the concern that any such degradation of the status accorded to the Holy See would seriously damage relations between the United Nations and member states that find in the Holy See a moral and ethical presence with which they can work effectively in pursuing humanitarian approaches to international problems.

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
19 July 2000, page 7

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