Press Releases

    11 September 2002


    NEW YORK, 10 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the Holy Family Church in New York, on 9 September:

    Let me express my sincere gratitude, as ever, to the Parish of the Holy Family Church for organizing this service. Gathering here every year is a source of solace and strength for the United Nations community. This house of worship, which has stood here for almost four decades, provides a much-needed sense of continuity in the midst of the challenges and crises that constantly confront our Organization.

    That sense is particularly important in the week that lies ahead of us -- not just to the United Nations, but to all New Yorkers. When we met here one year ago, on the evening of 10 September, the terrorist attacks of 11 September were less than 24 hours away.

    Since then, some of us may feel that not only one year has passed, but something approaching a lifetime.

    In the course of the past year, we may have felt that the world would never be the same again. We may have feared that there were not enough prayers in heaven and earth to make us heal again. We may have felt that a language of fear and grief had taken over our prayers. Perhaps this should remind us of the anguish millions of our brothers and sisters around the world feel every day, as they struggle to survive in the midst of armed conflict, dire poverty and disease.

    But as we look back, let us also look at the stained glass window that runs along the wall of the Church. In that window, we can see another language, which is the opposite of the language of despair: it is the universal language of hope. We can see some of the words of that language -– espoir and esperanza -- displayed across the mosaic of colour and light.

    I believe it is that language which helped us through this incomparable tragedy and helped this city recover from the events of September 2001.

    I would like to think that it is that language which unites us today in September 2002.

    And I would hope that it is the language in which we pray now.

    As all the world’s nations prepare to meet this week for the General Assembly, I hope you will pray for our United Nations. That whatever challenges and crises confront us the year ahead, we may make this indispensable instrument as effective as it can be, in the interests of the people on whose behalf it exists to serve. Let us pray that all the world’s peoples hear the message of hope.

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