"The Gospel is the most humanizing message known to history": Pope Francis to UNESCO

Pope Francis and UNESCO’s Audrey Azoulay at Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University, Oct. 7, 2021. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Pope Francis said on Friday that “the Gospel is the most humanizing message known to history.”

He made the remark in a video message marking the 75th anniversary of UNESCO, the United Nations’ educational, scientific and cultural organization.

“From my heart, I express my congratulations on the 75th anniversary of this United Nations agency. The Church has a privileged relationship with it,” the pope said in the message released on Nov. 12.

“Indeed, the Church is at the service of the Gospel, and the Gospel is the most humanizing message known to history. A message of life, freedom, and hope, which has inspired countless educational initiatives in every age and in every place, and has inspired the scientific and cultural growth of the human family.”

“This is why [UNESCO] is a privileged partner of the Holy See in the common service to peace and solidarity among peoples, to the integral development of the human person and to the protection of the cultural heritage of humanity.”


The video message was played during a live-streamed 75th anniversary celebration attended by Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo and artists including the actor and director Forest Whitaker and singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo.

UNESCO, based in Paris, France, was founded on Nov. 16, 1945, in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. Today, it has 193 member states and 11 associate members.

The Holy See has permanent observer status. The first permanent observer of the Holy See to UNESCO was Angelo Roncalli, the then apostolic nuncio to France, who was elected Pope John XXIII in 1958 and canonized in 2013.

The Italian priest Msgr. Francesco Follo has served as the permanent observer since 2002.

Pope Francis sat alongside Audrey Azoulay, the director-general of UNESCO, at an event at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome last month.

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The pope was launching a degree course on ecology and the environment, in cooperation with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, while Azoulay was inaugurating a UNESCO Chair “On Futures of Education for Sustainability.”