Dialogue Seen as a Tool of Church's Service

Cardinal Hummes Addresses Congress on “Gaudium et Spes”

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 17, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Church must constantly exercise dialogue in its commitment to serve people and protect their fundamental rights, says Cardinal Claudio Hummes.

“Perhaps it is one of the most important methods today to relate positively and constructively with society,” the archbishop of Sao Paolo, Brazil, said Wednesday at the opening session of a congress organized by the Holy See on “The Call to Justice: The Legacy of ‘Gaudium et Spes’ 40 Years Later.”

The prelate spoke of the Church’s role in relation to the world, expressed in “a dialogue with courage — open, frank, sensible and humble. A dialogue with contemporary man, with human reason, the sciences, the progress in biotechnology, with philosophies and cultures, with politics and economics, with everything that refers to social justice, human rights, solidarity with the poor. A dialogue with the whole of society and its segments.”

The congress, called by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, is in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the pastoral constitution issued by the Second Vatican Council. The congress ends Friday.

“The Church supports and favors all the present efforts to seek the full development of the personality of every human being and to promote his fundamental rights, dignity and freedom,” said Cardinal Hummes.

“But she also wants to help man find the full truth of the human being and his vocation in this world, and that is why she points to Jesus Christ, in whom this full truth is found,” added the 70-year-old prelate.

“The Church is at the service of man and of all men, at the service of humanity and she cannot attempt to dominate humanity,” said the cardinal. His audience included members of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and experts on Church social doctrine.

He continued: “A serving Church must have solidarity with the poor as her priority. The Apostle Paul wrote that what matters ‘is faith acting through charity.’ Faith must be expressed in charity and solidarity, which is the civil version of charity.”

Regarding globalization, Cardinal Hummes said that “Gaudium et Spes” already foresaw the rise of this phenomenon and that “the Church must be at the service of this unity.”

“Moreover,” he recalled, “the Church recognizes how much good there is in the present social dynamism: above all, the evolution toward unity, the process of a healthy civil and economic socialization. Promotion of unity is in agreement with the profound mission of the Church.”

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