Serving God Is Serving Humanity, Says Cardinal

Closes International Congress on Consecrated Life

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2006 ( The most important social project for the consecrated members of the Church is to belong totally to God, says the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Cardinal Renato Martino said this at the closing statement of a congress in Rome on “Consecrated Life and Social Doctrine: Itineraries of Formation,” which drew some 70 scholars, experts, and consecrated men and women of various institutes and countries.

The international seminar, Oct. 12-13, studied how consecrated men and women can put the social teachings of the Church into practice, while respecting their charisms.

In a telegram Benedict XVI sent through Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope expressed his hope that the meeting would foster “an ever more profound contemplation of the image of Christ, prince of peace, awakening a growing and generous commitment to promote the universal values of justice and solidarity while respecting the rights of the human person.”

A luminous witness

Cardinal Martino said that evangelical dedication to the poor by innumerable consecrated men and women is one of the most luminous and edifying chapters of the history of the contemporary Church.

He added that the most important and urgent social apostolate for consecrated men and women is to belong totally to God.

In doing this, said the cardinal, the consecrated proclaim to the world that without God, one builds against man.

Cardinal Martino warned of two unbalanced attitudes toward social issues: those who are “disinterested,” and those who, “misinterpreting the exigencies of evangelical radicalism, go so far as to express themselves in behavior and ideological references in opposition to the doctrine and discipline of the Church.”

The cardinal said that the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church expresses a balanced attitude: “[B]y placing themselves totally at the service of the mystery of Christ’s charity to man and the world, religious anticipate and show with their lives some features of the new humanity which the social doctrine wishes to foster.”


In this context, and in order to achieve a balanced relationship between consecrated life and human promotion, the cardinal suggested “an appropriate formation using the social doctrine as recently proposed in the compendium,” which offers “concepts and language to understand what is happening in the world.”

Cardinal Martino exhorted the participants to invest “in spirituality and formation.”

He offered as an example “the testimony of Mother Teresa of Calcutta,” and he paid homage to the “very many men and women religious, hidden heroes of Christian love and most faithful servants of the Gospel of charity.”

The cardinal said that consecrated persons’ total gift of self is “an emblematic and prophetic sign of the social doctrine.”

According to a communiqué of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the meeting concluded that consecrated men and women are called to animate social, political and economic relations by being witnesses of the Gospel.

Spirituality and formation, including proper knowledge and use of the social doctrine of the Church, were identified as two ways to achieve this end, added the communiqué.

The congress was organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, together with the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation.

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