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Vatican Looks at Politics as Form of Charity

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 20, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican is proposing politics as a form of charity, but affirming that the Church has an essential contribution to make to the political world. Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, opened a two-day Vatican conference this morning focused on "Politics, a Demanding Form of Charity."

The meeting, being held at the headquarters of that dicastery, will offer guidelines for a politics based on a Christian perspective, in areas such as life and the family, taxes, international cooperation and biotechnologies.

In his opening address, Cardinal Martino said that "in Christ's message, proclaimed by the Church, the human community can find the strength to love one's neighbor as oneself, to combat everything that is opposed to life, to acknowledge the fundamental equality of all, to struggle against every form of discrimination, and to overcome a merely individualist ethics."

Referring to the topic of laicism, sometimes understood as the exclusion of religion from public life, the president of the Vatican council expressed the conviction that Catholicism will never turn its back on faith's public role.

"If politics pretends to act as if God did not exist, in the end it dries up and loses the very awareness of intangible human dignity," he said.

Cardinal Martino defended democratic pluralism, but stressed that there are values that cannot be negotiated, such as respect for human life, the family, and the right to education.

"When rights are claimed in an individualist way, removing them from a reference to truth, solidarity and responsibility, democracy itself is corroded and elements of opposition are introduced," he warned.

The cardinal concluded by proposing that genuine democracy needs a soul: a conviction about the unconditional value of the human person, open to others and to God, in truth and goodness.

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