Patriotism Is Good to a Point, Says Cardinal Sodano

Cautions Against Falling Into Nationalism

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 6, 2009 ( Love for country is certainly a Christian principle, but the deviation of nationalism is “wholly anti-Christian,” according to Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

The dean of the College of Cardinals affirmed this today when he addressed the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. The synod began Sunday in Rome.

“I was pleased to note that the theme of reconciliation has priority among the three great themes that are being studied at this synod: reconciliation, justice and peace,” the cardinal said, according to the summary of his address published by the Vatican.

“In truth,” he continued, “today we can see more clearly the enormity of the disasters provoked by nationalism and the exaltation of the concept of race. We here in Europe have had our own sad experience of this down through the centuries, up to the last World War, that in five years was responsible for 55 million deaths!

“Now we all have to work to ensure that such historical tragedies do not re-occur.”

Cardinal Sodano said that the “homicidal rage between different ethnic groups” cannot be forgotten in Africa, noting that it “has devastated entire countries.”

“I believe we should repeat to everyone, with greater insistence,” he said, “that love of one’s nation — concretely, of one’s people, one’s compatriots — is certainly a Christian duty, but we also have to add that the deviation of nationalism is wholly anti-Christian.”

The cardinal explained that the concept of nation is believed to have been formed in a Christian setting.

“Christianity, though, has always condemned every deformation in this concept of nation, a deformation that frequently descends into nationalism or even racism, the true negation of Christian universality,” the cardinal clarified. “In reality, the two basic principles of the Christian community have always been as follows: the dignity of each human person, on the one hand, and the unity of the human species, on the other. These are two inviolable frontiers, within which various concepts of nation can evolve, depending on time and place.”

Cardinal Sodano affirmed that the “present 53 African nations will have a great future in the concert of the 192 nations that today make up the entire human family, if they are able to overcome their divisions and cooperate together for the material and spiritual progress of their peoples.”

The cardinal was one of 16 synod fathers who offered interventions to the synod today.

As the dean of the College of Cardinals, he said he is participating “almost as a representative” of that group, though “of course, we already have present among us a number of brother cardinals, from Africa above all. But I am delighted to be here symbolically representing all the 185 cardinals of the whole world who in this moment are close to us in their prayer and shared apostolic efforts.”

Cardinal Sodano further noted that he has participated in the last 12 synodal assemblies, and can attest to the “great importance of these meetings.”

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Summary of Cardinal Sodano’s address:

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