ROME, NOV. 26, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Though modern times are marked by an “indescribable load of suffering,” a Vatican official said he sees signs of “unique and very promising” opportunities.
Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, made this reflection after the 2nd World Congress of the Ecclesial Organizations Working for Justice and Peace, sponsored by his dicastery. It concluded in Rome last Saturday.
The two-day conference, like the pontifical council’s plenary assembly held just before it, was dedicated to the consideration of Pope Paul VI’s “Populorum Progressio,” on the 40th anniversary of its publication.
A concluding statement from the congress said, “The indescribable load of suffering caused by the new fratricidal wars, the bloody inrush of terrorism on the world scene, the persistent increase of scandalous inequality between the poorer countries and the richer countries should not bring a feeling of desperation and paralyzing powerlessness.”
“These times also offer unique and very promising opportunities for the integral development and solidarity of humanity,” affirmed Cardinal Martino. “We must not demonize globalization: It can represent a great opportunity, on the condition that it is oriented truly to global solidarity and social justice, in the perspective of the universal common good of the united family of peoples.
“The development of science and of technology can help much as well, while the discoveries of medicine are able to confront successfully the problem of endemic illnesses and of pandemics.
“Besides, there is an ever growing awareness that development is above all a moral problem.”
Referring to the encyclical about hope that Benedict XVI will publish this Friday, Cardinal Martino said, “Christian hope is the strength that God gives us in order to fulfill his plan of love for man and for history, in which integral development and solidarity are an essential element.”
Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Florida, gave the homily at Saturday’s Mass during the congress. He suggested that the social doctrine of the Church could be summed up in one phrase: “No man is a problem.”
“Any anthropology that would reduce the human person to being just a problem is simply a defective, an erroneous anthropology — unworthy of man created in the image and likeness of God,” the prelate said. “When we allow ourselves to think of a human being as a mere problem, we offend his or her dignity.
“This is why Catholic social teachings proclaim a positive and consistent ethic of life: No man is a problem. For us, Catholics, therefore, there is no such thing as a ‘problem pregnancy’ — only a child, who is to be welcome in life and protected by law. The refugee, the migrant is not a problem. He may perhaps be a stranger, but a stranger to be embraced as a brother. Even criminals — for all the horror of their crimes — do not lose their God-given dignity as human beings.”
Bishop Wenski said the mission of Christians is “to model what life looks like when God matters, when man matters.”