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Vatican newspaper pays tribute to Dag Hammarskjöld

September 29, 2011

L’Osservatore Romano has paid tribute to Dag Hammarskjöld, the second secretary-general of the United Nations, on the fiftieth anniversary of his death.

“What made Hammarskjöld withstand the enormous pressures of his office and kept him together as a person was his deep spirituality and devotion to God,” according to the newspaper, which added:

The most frequently read text by Hammarskjöld is italic Markings, his spiritual autobiography, sketchy, aphoristic notes that have a pregnancy which speaks directly to the soul and which reveals the inner strife of a person who was constantly “negotiating with God” (his own words). “Spiritual maturity” was in Dag Hammarskjöld’s eyes the most important quality in world leaders, civil servants and diplomats. Freedom for him did not equal unrestrained individualism, but the courage and humility to follow a vocation and live according to your conscience.

One is struck by the similarity between this definition of freedom and the one expressed by Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, in this interviews with Peter Seewald. To listen to a conversation between the two would have been fascinating. They would not necessarily have agreed on everything. Dag Hammarskjöld’s own road to God was definitely a Christian one.


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