Defense of Life Is Linked to Liberty

In Rimini, Cardinal Martino Speaks About Social Doctrine

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RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 25, 2005 ( Defense of life, religious freedom, and peace and human rights are the priorities on the world scene, says the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Cardinal Renato Martino highlighted these issues Tuesday when addressing the topic “The Social Doctrine of the Church at the Service of Modern Man,” at the Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples, being held here this week by the ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation.

The session began with a question posed by Giorgio Cittadini, president of the Foundation for Solidarity: “What are the conditions necessary for an individual and the community in which he lives to enjoy full liberty?”

Cardinal Martino responded by illustrating the contents of the recently published Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, written by the pontifical council he heads.

According to the cardinal, the priority areas of commitment in society, in the light of the demands of the Gospel and the primary needs of humanity, are life, religious freedom, and peace and human rights.

The promotion and defense of life, from conception until natural death, is “of fundamental importance for Christians’ action in the social realm,” said the president of the pontifical council.


“The right to religious freedom is the foundation of all other rights,” Cardinal Martino said. “God guarantees man’s inviolable nature, made in the image and likeness of God. Freedom of conscience, just like religious freedom, does not stem from a subjective claim, but derives from the reality of human dignity and man’s transcendent vocation.”

Further, Cardinal Martino distinguished between a peace-loving person, a pacifist and a peacemaker.

“The peace-loving person is the one who, by the gift of God and his own virtue, is able to live with himself and others without conflict. Peace is proper to peace-loving men,” he said.

“Pacifism is something good, but unless it is oriented by peace-loving men, it runs the risk of betraying the objective of peace, becoming an ideology,” the cardinal warned.

“The peacemaker is the peace-loving person who enters into historical situations of conflict to offer words, attitudes and solutions of peace,” he continued. The peacemaker, or “agent of peace,” is guided by love, because, as St. Augustine wrote, “to have peace means to love,” the Vatican official said.

Also, Cardinal Martino confirmed that “the main criteria of attention to human right must be the proclamation of the transcendent principle of the dignity of the person, as true humanism is transcendent.”

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