Lighting the Darkness of War

Catholic Military Chaplains Gather in Rome

ROME, OCT. 16, 2007 ( Defense of human dignity is the only ray of light in the darkness of war, said Cardinal Renato Martino.

Cardinal Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said this about the 2nd International Conference for the formation of Catholic military chaplains.

The event took place Friday and Saturday, titled “Human Dignity and Humanitarian Rights: The Role of Religions.” It was co-sponsored by the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, Interreligious Dialogue and Promoting Christian Unity, along with the Congregation for Clergy.

The conference focused on humanitarian rights and interreligious initiatives. It gathered military chaplains, other members of the armed forces, academics and civil society representatives from more than 30 countries.

This ray of light brought about by defending human dignity, the cardinal explained, “can illuminate the mind, [and is] a little flame that can dissolve hatred and resentment, a fine red thread thanks to which man does not succumb, but continues along the path of love which leads to God.”

“War is never a right,” Cardinal Martino said, “and even when dictated by the necessity to defend the innocent it must follow precise rules compatible with human dignity.”

“In this perspective,” said the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, “not simply for any political or strategic calculation, must international humanitarian law be numbered among the most effective expressions which emanate from the truth of peace.”

The chaplains and other guests paid special attention to current issues in the area of humanitarian rights, such as the struggle against terrorism, the status of nuclear weapons, and new ways of waging war, including the military use of biotechnology.

The first conference for Catholic military chaplains took place in 2003.