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Cardinal Martino on 'Reconciliation and Peace' (Part 2of 2)

9/23/2005 - 6:00 AM PST

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Vatican Official's Address in Tanzania

KIGOMA, Tanzania, SEPT. 23, 2005 (Zenit) - Here is conclusion of the text of an address given by Cardinal Renato Martino, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, on the theme "Reconciliation and Peace."

He gave the address at a meeting of Church representatives from Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Congo on July 18. The text was recently released by the Catholic Information Service for Africa. Part1 appeared Wednesday.

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Some Requirements for Consolidating Peace

To oppose the culture of violence, it is necessary to promote the cultivation of a terrain suitable for peace, in which peace can take root. In fact, it is necessary to find the ways and the means for making peace grow and for consolidating it. I would like to specify the ethical and cultural factors that make it possible not only to verify whether true peace is present or not, but that also contribute to making it stronger and to helping it to grow.

a) Peace is strengthened when it is respected

The antithesis of peace is war, injustice, the violation of human rights, contempt for life. When respect for life is lacking it is legitimate to declare that we find ourselves truly at war. Therefore, in her actions aimed at promoting peace, the Church correctly places much emphasis on defending human life and on pointing out the contradictions of our culture. In fact, the attitudes that mankind adopts today concerning both life and sexuality reveal themselves to be strange and contradictory: on the one hand, there is the insistent quest for "quality of life" while at the same time we are witnessing numerous and sundry acts of violence that put it seriously at risk. Life, new life, is ardently desired: in cases of untreatable sterility, great sacrifices are made to have "a child at all costs" and, at the same time, there exists, and it is widespread, a "fear of life," as can be seen in the use of various methods of contraception, in recourse to abortion and abortifacient drugs. According to trustworthy estimates, millions of abortions are performed in the world every year. The massacre of innocent victims is comparable to a war. Until there is effective opposition to a situation such as this, how can we speak of peace?

In order to speak of peace or to work for peace, it is essential that the good news of God's plan for human life should be proclaimed. The human person is the image of God and a new creature in Christ: human life is always, from its beginning at conception, a gift of God and is therefore inviolable. It belongs to God and God is its guarantor. From this Christian perspective -- which, however, can be grasped by any person, even if he is not a great thinker -- there arises the firm condemnation of abortion and of the abuses of genetics and of the techniques of in vitro fertilization, as well as the condemnation of every violation committed against the lives of minors, women and the emarginated.

Even as it declines, human life retains all its significance and value. Suffering and death, seen in Jesus Christ who is one with human suffering and death, takes on a significance that needs to be understood if we are to spread a "culture of life." Sharing pain, humanizing sickness, accompanying the dying with sincere and deeply felt empathy, resolutely rejecting every temptation of euthanasia: these are the duties that arise from the Christian perspective of the value of every human life, from its beginning until its end.

These are inescapable duties for peace-makers. Peace is found and is strengthened when the command "thou shalt not kill" is accepted without any attempt to gloss over it. I believe that, in order to consolidate peace, it is urgently necessary today to rethink -- in more radical terms and without exaggerated rationalization -- the command "thou shalt not kill," under its negative aspects, and the command "promote life", seeing them as fundamental values that are to be defended, assisted, guaranteed on every front. Believers who, out of fidelity to the Lord of life, reject abortion, the arbitrary manipulation of life and the pseudo-justifications for procedures of euthanasia, have the duty to defend life on all its fronts and to be sensitive to the quality of life and death. They must be particularly attentive in order to call into question and to refute those who hold positions that support unjust, oppressive and manipulative elements and situations that hinder, alter or diminish the fullness and the harmony of life. The best defense of life consists in putting into practice social, structural and cultural conditions that will allow each person to live an authentically human life and, consequently, to die in a manner which does not violate human dignity.

b) Peace is consolidated when justice is affirmed

Justice is the matrix for ...

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