Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today lauded the commitment of Pope Benedict XVI to inter-faith dialogue and the promotion of peace, in reaction to the Pontiff's decision to step down at the end of this month.
The 85-year-old Pope cited deteriorating health for his decision to step down as the head of the Roman Catholic Church. He was elected in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II.
"Recalling the Pope's visit to the United Nations Headquarters in April 2008, the Secretary-General expresses his appreciation for the profound commitment of Pope Benedict to inter-faith dialogue and to addressing such global challenges as the alleviation of poverty and hunger, as well as the promotion of human rights and peace," said Mr. Ban's spokesperson.
"He hopes that the wisdom demonstrated during his Pontificate may stand as a legacy on which to build further dialogue and tolerance."
During his address to the UN General Assembly in April 2008, Pope Benedict called the UN the embodiment of aspirations for a "greater degree of international ordering" in response to the needs of the human family.
He also stressed the Organization's major role in seeking a better world as he highlighted the need to protect human rights, ensure development, security and reduce local and global inequalities.
"The promotion of human rights remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and for increasing security," he added.