ROME, DEC. 3, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The former leader of the Vatican’s justice and peace council — who also served for 16 years representing the Holy See before the United Nations — takes a broad look at social doctrine and its global application in his new book.
Cardinal Renato Martino’s “Servire la Giustizia e la Pace” (To Serve Justice and Peace) particularly highlights the importance of the principle of subsidiarity.
The book, released last month by the Vatican Publishing House, brings together some of the 77-year-old prefect’s most significant addresses. He considers issues such as international cooperation, employment, peace, human rights and technology, the common good, and the need for a world political authority. And he makes his reflections in light of the social doctrine of the Church, understood as an instrument of evangelization.
Cardinal Martino served as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace from 2002 until last month. From 2006 to Feb. 28, 2009, he was also president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers. The Italian cardinal served from 1986-2002 as the permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.
With that experience, his book looks at the various facets of globalization and global governing, always emphasizing the importance of subsidiarity — according to which a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order.”
Cardinal Martino also emphasizes the primacy of charity over justice.
He maintains that “the true way to serve the poor man is not to begin from his poverty in the sociological sense, but to begin from the poor Christ.”
“Without referring to the social doctrine of the Church,” the cardinal contends, “one who is committed to justice and human rights, to development and the defense of the poor, constantly runs the risk of losing sight of the ‘theological place’ from which to properly interpret his commitment.”