True Secularity Allows Religion's Public Role, Says Cardinal

Addresses Italian Chamber of Deputies

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ROME, NOV. 16, 2005 ( The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, when making a presentation to Italy’s parliamentarian, said that authentic secularity in a society recognizes the public role of religion.

Cardinal Renato Martino made that assessment today when presenting the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church to the Chamber of Deputies.

“An authentically secular political regime,” he said, “accepts both that Christians act individually as Christians in society without having to camouflage themselves, as well as that the Church manifest her own convictions on important ethical questions.”

“It is in the interest of politics itself, because if it pretends to live as if God didn’t exist, in the end it makes itself arid and loses awareness of the intangible character of human life,” the cardinal said.

For this reason, “Catholicism will never be able to give up its public role of faith, distinguishing the cases in which the faithful act in their own name from the cases in which they act in the name of the Church, together with their pastors,” the Vatican official added.

Explaining the fundamental contribution that the Church offers politics, Cardinal Martino mentioned its work to “preserve and promote in the common conscience the sense of the transcendent dignity of the human person.”

Soul concern

“The Christian conception of the person as an image of God” prevents the person from “being considered as a means and not as an end,” he clarified. This vision calls for considering the person in “his horizontal and vertical openness, capable of relating to others and to God, in truth and goodness.”

“An authentic democracy needs a soul!” exclaimed the cardinal when addressing the Chamber of Deputies in the Hall of the Cenacle.

The parliamentarians were also addressed by the president of the Chamber, Pier Ferdinando Casini, who presented the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church as “an irreplaceable point of reference for the difficult decisions that we are all called to make.”

To those who deny the Church the right to intervene on important issues of the human condition, Casini recalled that “the Church limits herself to proposing, not imposing.”

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