Pope Francis endorsed a recent conference dedicated to the conservation and restoration of art and heritage within the Middle East, as a means to defend the rights of the human person.
The Pope gave his support for the Safeguarding Endangered Cultural
Heritage Conference, which occurred at Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, on
Supported by UNESCO, France and the UAE set up the conference
in hopes of protecting the heritage of the countries torn by war within
the Middle East.
Identifying the theme as “unfortunately starkly current,” the Pope
said that “the protection of cultural treasures constitutes an essential
dimension in the defense of what it is to be human.”
In countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, and Syria – each exposed
to centuries of war – looting, destruction to cultural monuments, and
illicit trading are commonplace. Within these cultures, all of which
extend over a millennium back, many culturally significant pieces and
property have already been damaged or obliterated.
has reported on specific pieces which have faced or are facing
extinction, including the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan, Afghanistan, and the
toppled statues of the Mosul Museum in Iraq by ISIS militants.
Both the president of France, François Hollande, and the crowned
prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, have organized
the conference with over 40 representatives from other countries.
The conference is supported by UNESCO, an organization within the UN
dedicated to protecting and rehabilitating damaged art, cultural
monuments, and natural wonders. Since its establishment in 1945, UNESCO
has retained significant art and nature all over world.
helped restore the Old Walled City of Shibam, Yemen and even Yellowstone
National Park within the US, UNESCO will be an important piece in
enforcing and organizing the restoration.
“This will be a historical initiative to pass down our legacy of
tolerance and value of heritage,” said the organization's chairman of
tourism, Mohammad Khalifa Al Mubarak, who added that the project would
need to raise $100 million in order to do so.
Partnering with UNESCO and relying on their previous expertise,
countries will look to establish the Global Fund for Culture in order to
reconstruct places like Nimrud or Palmyra. France and a few other
countries have also shown interest in housing artifacts until it is safe
for their return.
For the countries of the Middle East under violence and constraints
to religious freedom, the Pope trusts this conference will bring about a
greater concern for the human person.
“I hope that this event marks a
new step in the process of the implementation of human rights,” he