Catholic News - Catholic Telecommunications, a devision of Catholic Resources





Church diplomats remember UN envoy as champion of people

Mourning the death of UN Iraq envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello, Vatican diplomats remembered him as a highly efficient champion of people whose rights were being trampled.

The 55-year-old UN envoy was killed late Tuesday when a truck carrying explosives was driven into the UN headquarters in Baghdad.

"He was very active and extraordinarily well-liked," said Coadjutor Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland, the former Vatican representative to UN organisations in Geneva. "He represented what is best in international public service. He was efficient, hard-working, dedicated, an idealist, yet realistic."

The Irish archbishop said he and the Brazilian diplomat would chat after meetings and receptions, in Italian. The archbishop worked at the Vatican for years, and de Mello attended high school in Rome when his father, also a diplomat, was stationed in the city.

Archbishop Martin said that while many Catholic charitable organisations, particularly those working with refugees, had contacts with de Mello his closest work with Catholics probably occurred in 1999-2002 when he was head of the UN mission overseeing East Timor's transition to independence.

"He had a lot of contact with the church and good contacts with the bishops of East Timor," the archbishop said.

Archbishop Martino said de Mello "was very kind to everyone" and got the best out of his collaborators.

Meanwhile Pope John Paul prayed at yesterday's weekly audience that world leaders find the wisdom to end a "woeful spiral of hatred and violence" after deadly bombings in Baghdad and Jerusalem.

On the same day that a suicide bomber struck the UN headquarters in Baghdad, a suicide bombing of an Israeli bus in Jerusalem killed at least 20 people, including women and chldren.

"The tragic news that arrives in these hours from Baghdad and Jerusalem cannot but generate profound sadness and unanimous reprehension in our hearts," he said.

"While we entrust to divine mercy those who lost their lives and beg comfort for those who weep, let us pray to God so that wisdom prevails in hearts and that public officials know how to break this woeful spiral of hatred and violence."

Palestinian officials said yesterday that Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas postponed a visit with the Pope because of the Jerusalem attack. Abbas had been expected in Rome on Monday for a meeting with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi. He was to meet the pontiff the following day and then travel to Oslo for the 10th anniversary of the Oslo peace accords.

Pope John Paul sent a telegram of condolences to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan after the explosion in Baghdad. The bomb killed the top UN official there, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and 19 other people.

Catholic News Service/AP

Vieira De Mello, From Brazil to serve peace throughout the world (MISNA)
Franciscans International Mourns Loss of UN Human Rights Commissioner (Franciscans International)
Pope expresses sadness at bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad (Catholic News Service)
Pope calls for end to terror (
Iraq: fears grow for safety of aid workers (Independent Catholic News)
Pope issues new appeal for peace after Jerusalem bombing (Independent Catholic News)
Christian Aid condemns suicide bombing (Independent Catholic News)
Stigmatic who foresaw 9/11 warns that in Iraq there is 'much below the surface' (Spirit Daily)
Toughest test for roadmap (BBC)
Charmer who united nations, without getting his shoes dirty (Sydney Morning Herald)
Curriculum Vitae: Sergio Vieira de Mello, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
General audience of John Paul II Castelgandolfo 20/8/03

21 Aug 2003