Uganda Cautioned About Loss of Ethics in Public Life

Cardinal Martino on a Visit to Promote Reconciliation

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KAMPALA, Uganda, MAY 31, 2004 ( Loss of the ethical dimension in the social and political realm «leads inevitably to the dehumanization of life and institutions,» a Vatican official told leaders in Uganda.

Cardinal Renato Martino, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, delivered that message in an address on the first day of his four-day to Uganda, a trip designed to promote reconciliation in the country’s war-torn areas. His visit will take him to areas including Gulu, Kalongo and Kitgum, the pontifical council said in a statement.

Today, the cardinal delivered an address in Kampala, the capital city, to parliamentarians and lay leaders, as well as to members of the Ugandan commissions for justice and peace. His theme was «The Commitment of the Christian Laity in the Social and Political Field in the Light of the Social Doctrine of the Church.»

The Vatican official stressed that the ethical dimension in the social and political realm «not only affects the quality of life of persons, families, institutions and the state itself, but also its survival.»

«To ignore the ethical dimension leads inevitably to the dehumanization of life and institutions, transforming social and political life into a jungle at the mercy of violence and the law of the strongest,» he warned.

The cardinal referred to the «structures of sin» that Christians must combat actively.

Examples of this are «abuse of children, organized prostitution, lasting wars and civil conflicts, ethnic cleansing operations, legislation that supports racial discrimination, political corruption and mafia organizations,» Cardinal Martino said.

He stressed that the Christian faith can never be «translated» into a concrete political position, and labeled it a «dangerous error» to pretend that a political party or coalition can coincide with the experience of faith and Christian life.

On Tuesday, Cardinal Martino will travel to the north, where there have been armed confrontations for the past 18 years between the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan army. His stops will include refugee camps and hospitals caring for war victims.

The rebel LRA has been fighting ostensibly to establish a state based on the observance of «biblical» concepts. To reach its objective, the LRA has not hesitated to attack the civilian population.

Since 1986, LRA rebels have tortured and killed tens of thousands of people, and kidnapped more than 25,000 children, forcing them into slavery or combat work.

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