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Covering the USCCB



Permanent ObserverMission of the Holy See to the UnitedNations

Although the Holy See is not a member state of the United Nations, since

1964 it has had a Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations in New

York. In 2004 the UN General Assembly passed a resolution by acclamation

strengthening the mission’s status. The Holy See now enjoys, among other

things, the right to participate in the general debate of the General Assembly,

the right of reply, the right to have its communications issued and circulated

directly as official documents of the assembly, and the right to co-sponsor draft

resolutions and decisions that make reference to the Holy See. In December

2006 Congress authorized the president to grant members of the observer

mission the same diplomatic immunity and privileges that the United States,

as host country, grants to UN ambassadors and their staffs.

Archbishop Bernardito C. Auza is apostolic nuncio and permanent

observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. The mission’s main phone

number is 212-370-7885. Its Web site is .

Catholic Near EastWelfare Association (CNEWA)

Based in New York, CNEWA is a special agency of the Holy See, established

in the United States by Pope Pius XI in 1926 out of his concern for the post-

World War I humanitarian and religious needs in Russia and the Near East. It

supports the pastoral mission of the Eastern Catholic churches—the needs of

the churches, institutions and persons under the jurisdiction of the Vatican’s

Congregation for Eastern Churches and the Permanent Interdicasterial

Commission for the Church in Eastern Europe—and provides humanitarian

assistance to the needy and afflicted without regard to nationality or creed. It

seeks to promote Catholic-Orthodox unity and raises and distributes funds to

help meet the material and spiritual needs of the people it serves.

In 1949 Pope Pius XII formed the

Pontifical Mission for Palestine


under the direction of the general secretary of CNEWA, to help meet the

social and humanitarian needs of Palestinian refugees from the Arab-Israeli

conflict following the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948. Since then

CNEWA’s presence in the Middle East under the pontifical mission’s umbrella

has expanded significantly. Religion-related conflicts in Lebanon, Ethiopia and

other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, most recently Iraq, have

drawn CNEWA’s attention to relief and rebuilding in those nations as well.

In the establishment of both CNEWA and the Pontifical Mission for

Palestine, the Vatican relied on the postwar economic capabilities of American

Catholics, after two world wars when most of Europe was in economic sham-