Communicators Seen as Having a Role in Culture of Life

Interview with Cardinal Nicolas de Jesús López Rodríguez of Santo Domingo

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NEW YORK, NOV. 23, 2003 ( Communicators have a particular responsibility to respect and promote the culture of life, says the primate of America.

Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus López Rodríguez, archbishop of Santo Domingo, expressed this conviction in the context of the 2nd Hispanic-American Press Congress, held at Columbia University from Oct. 24-26.

Q: Are we able to defend the value of life?

Cardinal López Rodríguez: We know that in all cultures, when it comes to values, the first place belongs, without a doubt, to life. It is the supreme value. Because of this, the most solemn religious ceremonies in all cultures are those that celebrate the great moments of life: birth, marriage, death.

Other values, such as peace, justice, honesty, beauty, are subordinate to life. Habits, customs, institutions, language protect life and serve as a wall of defense and instrument of support and promotion.

Q: Is the battle for «being» being lost to «having»?

Cardinal López Rodríguez: Our culture and our society have engendered a man whose needs increase every day; they are generally fictitious, but very expensive. However, contemporary man has not grown in moral qualities. He grows in the area of having, of power and pleasure, but not in the area of truth and life.

We have an opulent person who enjoys things, but not a virtuous and wise person. There are many educated people, but few who are morally wise. There is an abyss between education and formation, both in the school as well as in society.

Q: What are the values proposed to us in these times?

Cardinal López Rodríguez: In history, each culture has opted for different values and proposes to its society the models that best embody them: the Greek hero, medieval mystic, Renaissance and modern philosopher. … Contemporary society emphasizes material well-being, pleasure, and sees these fulfilled in the one who possesses and enjoys them without limits, even if deep down he is a miserable human being.

Q: How can one be a real person in a context devoid of ideals?

Cardinal López Rodríguez: Contemporary man, equipped with weak reason, has abandoned the great ideals to allow himself to be progressively seduced by the passion of lust, which keeps him enslaved and depraved.

It must be proclaimed with clarity: to be a person, a minimum of well-being is certainly necessary — we do not dispute this. But even for material well-being, little is needed: health, a modest home, work, food and clothes. One is a person because of one’s spiritual dimension, and one grows as a person in the measure that one grows spiritually.

Q: What is the state of the violation of human rights?

Cardinal López Rodríguez: Human rights are violated not only by violence exercised directly against the person, but by the persistence of poverty of millions of human beings — by unjust structures that are the cause of inequalities.

Political intolerance and indifference toward poverty manifest contempt for human life. As children of God we can neither accept not keep quiet about this.

Q: Are we more contradictory than ever now?

Cardinal López Rodríguez: There are inconceivable contradictions now. The right to life is proclaimed as well as the «right» to abortion. The same is true of euthanasia: In the end, it is about killing.

In the present social context, marked by a dramatic confrontation between the culture of life and that of death, we must foster a strong critical sense, capable of discerning the real values and needs. A mobilization of consciences and a common ethical effort are urgent to articulate a great strategy in favor of life.

Q: Who has the capacity to assume moral leadership today?

Cardinal López Rodríguez: Communicators and public communication must be in the vanguard of that general mobilization of consciences and promotion of an ethical effort that should encompass the whole of society. It is the most effective way to be on the side of life.

We Christian communicators cannot remain silent in face of the general confusion of life today, despite the indifference and hostility of the media to the Christian experience. If today it is thought that the only absolute truth is that there is no truth, then the Truth must be affirmed, proclaimed and defended for the good of the whole of society.

[By Jaime Septien, director of El Observador]

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