NEW YORK (CNS) — The communications revolution of modern times has given the peoples of the world an unprecedented opportunity to come together in understanding, Cardinal Edward M. Egan said at a prayer service for the opening of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Speaking to ambassadors and diplomats, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as religious leaders of various faith traditions, the retired archbishop of New York called on his listeners to “seize the day and move forward”– taking advantage of God-given “wondrous things” as they seek resolution to conflicts around the world.

Also speaking at the Sept. 17 service at Holy Family Church, the U.N. parish in Manhattan, were the secretary-general and the Vatican’s U.N. nuncio, Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, who delivered a message from Pope Benedict XVI with a blessing to the new session.

Cardinal Egan based his talk on the service’s Scripture reading from Sirach, which began: “And now, bless the God of all, who has done wondrous things on earth.”

The cardinal spoke of the U.N., founded in 1945 to promote peace and dialogue among nations, as one of God’s wondrous works at the disposal of humankind.

Calling the world body “a remarkable institution,” he said, “Only the Lord knows what horrors of war and strife might have been ours to endure if it had not been for the multitude of successes (of) … the United Nations.”

The U.N., he said, is a “unique instrument of peace that gives us hope at a time when hope … is in short supply.”

But our gratitude to the Lord does not stop there, he said. Because of his wondrous works here on earth, “We are able at this moment in history to speak with one another, communicate with one another, dialogue with one another, converse with one another, even negotiate with one another as never before in history. And what a blessing that is for those who yearn for and work for understanding and peace among nations.”

The cardinal continued, “Walk down any crowded street in London, Athens, Shanghai, Paris, Buenos Aires, Lagos … or even stroll along a country road in Ethiopia … and what do you see? You will see cellphones held up to the ear.”

“It’s almost as though the world has suddenly decided to engage itself in a constant and unrelenting conversation,” he said.

“And to this add the wonders of the Internet, Twitter, websites … and what do we have? We have a world that can speak … and come to accord. We can talk as never we could before.

“Of course, all of these wonderful works can be abused,” Cardinal Egan said. “They can be turned into means of betraying truth and fomenting controversy and conflict.”

Even so, he said, “the leadership is available at the United Nations and the means of communication are open as never before. … We have the means, we have the opportunity, … we need to only seize the day and move forward.”