14 September 2001


NEW YORK, 13 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of an address given today in New York by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Interfaith Service of Commitment to the United Nations:

Thank you for welcoming us today to this interfaith service of commitment to the United Nations. As always in difficult times, it is comforting to be among friends.

I take heart especially at the sight of so many individuals of so many creeds praying side by side in the cause of peace. Heaven knows how much we at the United Nations need the hope and comfort of your prayers. Heaven knows how deeply we wish all of our prayers today may bring some comfort to the people whose lives have been touched by this week’s tragedy.

The events of the last two days must have tested the faith of every one of us.

At times like this, it is all too tempting to jump to conclusions about the kind of people who must be behind such appalling acts, and to identify them with some faith or community different from our own.

Instead, we should remember that, whoever they are, they must be human beings. We like to think of such acts as inhuman, but the truth is that human nature can sink to the depths of horror, as well as rise to the highest level of nobility. It is up to each of us to cultivate the best in his or her nature, and to struggle against the worst.

That is why I esteem so highly the efforts of the Interfaith Centre: to find the common ground of mutual respect and love, which goes with true spirituality.

Those efforts proceed, I know, from a shared faith -- faith in a dimension of life beyond the material, and in the obligation, binding on all human beings, to strive to understand each other and to live in peace. That is the faith that sustains all of us here today. That is the faith we must have in each other -- now, and in the days ahead.

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