Holy See Flag to Be Raised Outside UN Due to Palestinian Proposal

Flag to be raised at pope's arrival, in turnaround from earlier Vatican stance; General Assembly overwhelmingly approved Palestinian proposal to raise flags of UN's two non-member observer states.

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Flags fly outside the UN headquarters in New York.
Flags fly outside the UN headquarters in New York.Credit: Bloomberg

The flag of the Holy See will be raised for the first time outside UN headquarters the morning of Pope Francis' first visit next week, a United Nations official confirmed Friday.

It is a turnaround for the Vatican, whose UN ambassador earlier this month told reporters it had "no intention" of raising the flag before the pope arrives Sept. 25 to address the world body.

The General Assembly last week overwhelmingly approved a Palestinian proposal to raise its flag and that of the Holy See as the UN's two non-member observer states.

The Palestinians have announced a ceremony for their flag-raising Sept. 30 after President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the annual UN gathering of world leaders. They see the event as a symbolic step in their quest for an independent state.

But the Holy See flag is set to be raised quietly the morning of Sept. 25 along with the flags of the UN's 193 member states. Two empty flagpoles have been set up outside the main UN entrance.

The UN official spoke Friday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about the event.

The spokesman for the Holy See's UN mission, the Rev. Roger Landry, said Friday he could not comment.

The Holy See, which officially recognized the state of Palestine in their first bilateral treaty in May, had asked that it not be named in the Palestinians' flag-raising proposal. But the Vatican's UN ambassador, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, said after last week's vote that the Holy See didn't object to it and respected the assembly's decision.

At the time, Auza left open the possibility that the Holy See's flag might fly at UN headquarters sometime in the future.

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