Person Seen as Top Priority for Politicians

Cardinal Address Argentine Social Week

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina, JUNE 10, 2008 ( Catholic political leaders must make the social teaching of the Church an “essential” priority, since it is centered on the person and the common good, says the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

This was the message Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino delivered Sunday, the last day of the 7th Social Week of Argentine Catholics, held in Mar del Plata. The meeting had as its theme, “Toward a New Social and Political Leadership.”

A communiqué of the dicastery explained that the cardinal reminded his listeners that for Christian leaders involved in social, economic and political issues, an “essential priority, which can never be given up, is a constant and committed reference to the Social Doctrine of the Church, with its passion for man and the common good, and with its principles of the universal destination of goods, of subsidiarity and of solidarity.”

Speaking of “contributions for committed management in the just distribution of goods,” he paused to highlight the “profile of the Christian leader in the socio-political field,” calling for reflection on the principles of Christian teaching as delineated in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

Cardinal Martino highlighted the importance for Christian leaders to “acknowledge the centrality of the person, and to safeguard and promote the primacy of the person in every situation.”

Valued work

He said that because man is increasingly the decisive factor of production, it is necessary that the Christian leader “acknowledges, without any discrimination, the value and dignity of every worker and of every type of work.”

Moreover, the president of the Vatican dicastery confirmed that social justice must also include the objective of a better distribution of the goods of the earth, on the basis of the principle of global solidarity as a specific duty of justice.

Cardinal Martino went on to recall that the Catholic social teaching supports the relations between the Church and state, along the line of reciprocal autonomy and factual collaboration, indicating four ways for the Christian leader’s political commitment: “political commitment in truth, according to justice, in solidarity and in liberty.”

The meeting took place in the context of a conflict in the country that began in March over a 13% increase in export taxes on grain. The country’s agriculture sector rallied to demand concessions from the government.

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner did not initially budge, and the crisis continued for weeks with agricultural workers establishing roadblocks around the country.

Last week truck drivers launched their own protest of the roadblocks, saying the 90-day strike is making it impossible for them to work.

Farmers lifted the roadblocks Sunday, in hopes of striking a deal with the government. President Fernández has said she has no plans to return the grain export taxes to previous levels.

In a statement issued Thursday, the bishops of Argentina said the “persistence of the conflict, and the apparent impossibility to resolve it, constitutes a sign of institutional weakness.”

The bishops urged both sides to reconciliation, and added that “the solution can only be found by means of gestures of greatness.”

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