The Corner

God & Caesar

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 23, 2008 ( Christians should not label politics as the realm where corruption flourishes, but should engage in politics as an instrument for building up a society worthy of man, said a Vatican official.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, affirmed this Saturday when he concluded a two-day Vatican conference on “Politics, a Demanding Form of Charity.”

“Politics is a serious issue for Christians,” he said, because it is “an essential place and fundamental instrument to build a society worthy of man.”


Cardinal Martino acknowledged that there are two extremes that should be avoided: that of considering politics as a cure-all and that of rejecting them wholeheartedly as a negative reality.

Christians, he said, are called to establish a “balanced relationship with politics.”

2 concepts

Cardinal Martino explained that politics, more than ever because of globalization, must address two questions today, that of truth and that of authority.

“The question of truth will become ever more relevant in the near future, because of the urgent demand for meaning posed by technology,” especially “in the political realm, where there is the risk of technocracy; in the area of the manipulation of life, in which there is blind trust in biotechnology; and in the realm of communication, reshaped and distorted by information technology,” the cardinal said. All this “opens the door to unheard-of forms of slavery of man to man.”

The question of authority will also be ever more relevant due “to the ever increasing needs of government and of guidance, stemming from the fragmentation caused by the increase of liberties,” the cardinal proposed.

This authority must be “thought out and articulated in a new way,” more “horizontal and flexible” and with greater consistency with the principle of subsidiarity, he added.

“It is necessary to give new impetus and hope to politics,” the Vatican official affirmed. “A politics is needed that puts the human person at the center, respecting his fundamental rights, especially that of life; a politics that serves the common good, inspired in an integral and solidaristic humanism, which is subsidiary to the intermediate social bodies, especially the family.

“A politics is necessary which pauses when it discovers values that precede it, that is transcendent and that is enriched by the values of truth, justice, liberty and charity.”

Social doctrine

In this connection, the cardinal invited Christian politicians to become familiar with the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, published by his dicastery in 2004.

“Social doctrine is a fundamental ‘strategic instrument’ in the political task of Christians,” as “it links politics to charity, in a network of theological, spiritual, ethical and cultural connections,” he stated.

Likewise, the cardinal invited local Churches to consider politics as a “pastoral priority,” which must be “enlightened and evangelized.” He encouraged Catholic universities to give greater priority to education in politics.

“The Church does not engage in politics, is not part of politics,” he affirmed, “but must form and educate for the social and political task.”


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