YORK (CNS) -- The daily schedule at the United Nations is jammed with
substantial debates and conferences about issues of interest to the universal
the Vatican's leanly staffed Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations is
represented at most of them, thanks to a "force-multiplier" cadre of interns
year, 18 to 20 young Catholics from around the world are selected to
participate in an intensive program that immerses them in the Holy See's multilateral
work at the U.N. During their three-to-six-month service, participants attend U.N.
meetings, file comprehensive reports for the Holy See, staff conferences run by
the mission, and go to receptions and cultural events sponsored by various U.N.
Vatican has been a neutral, nonvoting member of the world body since 1964. It
participates in the debate of the General Assembly, makes interventions, co-sponsors
draft resolutions that make reference to the Holy See and is a party to
Roger Landry, an attache at the mission and director of the intern program,
said interns and fellows are valuable adjuncts to the permanent staff that
includes Archbishop Bernardito Auza, who is the Holy See's permanent observer,
as well as two diplomats and four attaches.
zeal and youth keep all the staff members enthusiastic for the work, even on
challenging days," Father Landry told Catholic News Service. Their presence at
meetings and research on issues "have impacted in a very powerful way the work
we've done at the U.N.," he said.
universal church also benefits from training bright, committed young Catholics
who will use their new learning to help strengthen both church and society in
their home countries, he said.
have served at the mission for many years, but since the program was formalized
and re-established in 2016, the number of applicants and their qualifications has
increased significantly, Father Landry said.
of the people who apply for one of three annual sessions are graduate students
and one-third already hold an advanced degree. Interns are unpaid, but fellows
receive a stipend from their universities.
want to integrate their academic life with their life of faith. Their zeal for
the types of things we are doing precedes them here," he said of the applicants.
Landry described the successful candidates as faithful Catholics who know
Catholic social teaching and see it as part of what the Vatican has to offer
the international community. They are self-starting, high-level thinkers who
can understand complex, nuanced issues and write clearly, he said.
also want them to be able to work efficiently and cheerfully and not be
overwhelmed by the amount of work, but integrate into it the joy of the Gospel,"
he told Catholic News Service.
bring some sunshine to the work we do. We call them teammates and members of
the family and they become some of our greatest advertisers and recruiters,"
Father Landry said.
2016, there have been more than 50 interns and fellows from 14 countries on six
continents. During the first week of September, seven new participants
completed a three-day training program at the mission and "hit the ground
running," according to Father Landry.
Iop, 23, an intern from Udine, Italy, has an undergraduate degree from Sciences
Po in Paris, and a master's degree in comparative politics from the London
School of Economics.
said she applied for the program because "I wanted to see if spirituality, my
own and others', can fit into politics and political strategies. I think it's
something that's missing today and could be a great help in solving current
who wrote her master's dissertation on extremist Buddhist organizations in
Myanmar and Sri Lanka, said she hopes to see if spirituality is something that
can become "entrenched in the political system."
Goretti Byamugisha, 32, a doctoral candidate from Uganda, holds a master's
degree in international law and human rights and another in political science
and international politics. She has studied in Uganda, Costa Rica and the
Sophia University Institute in Italy.
internship is a way to realize my dream to work in the U.N. setting," she said.
She said the Holy See presence at the U.N. is "a platform to help the church
hear the voice of the voiceless and an opportunity to sit in a position to
plans to take her experiences back to Uganda to start an organization to
educate about human rights and advocate for the return of Africans to Africa.
Malouf, 24, came to the program in June after completing a master's degree in
international law as a Fulbright scholar at Fordham University. The Melkite
Catholic from Nazareth, Israel, has a law degree from Haifa University. He said
he grew up "hanging out in churches in Bethlehem" because his father has driven
tour buses for pilgrims for 30 years.
his fellowship, Malouf has covered Security Council meetings and those of the U.N.
General Assembly Fourth Committee, the group responsible for decolonization
issues. On his first day, he attended a session on the Israel-Palestine
the big players were there, and it was mind-blowing to see the ambassadors from
both sides at the same table," he told CNS. "The U.N. provides a platform for
everyone to discuss things in a civilized way, even if they don't agree."
said people look for the opinion of the Vatican, which he described as "a
mediator and key player. Every delegation respects us. There is no resentfulness."
hopes to practice international law and diplomacy. "The field is fascinating
because it has an impact on the world."
Beretta, 27, has a law degree from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart
in Milan, Italy. He has been drawn to the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica in
Rome since he was a child. "I felt the beauty of the universal church," he
was baptized by Cardinal Loris Francesco Capovilla, longtime secretary to Pope
John XXIII, and said the late prelate was "a father, guide and mentor to me
since age 6. His death (in 2016 at age 100) was the first difficult important
loss of someone close to me who helped me mature. I think often of his love for
the church and his testimony."
began his fellowship in June and hopes to work in bilateral or multilateral
diplomacy for Italy. He has focused on the Security Council and discussions on
counterterrorism strategy and the protection of the human rights of the
elderly. Watching the U.N. proceedings, Beretta said he is learning to think,
listen, balance interests and help all parties reach a substantive consensus.
said he wakes with enthusiasm every morning with the focus of serving Pope
Francis and the Catholic Church to benefit humanity. He is trying to cultivate
and use all of his talents.
said the interns and fellows are an engaged community of diverse people from
like living in a hierarchical family. It's an amazing group and you have to
learn to work together," he said.
Information about the Holy See Mission program for interns and fellows is
available at https://bit.ly/2zGnIM8.