Tuesday, 13 May 2003

Cotonou (Fides Service) “Development cannot be built on conflicts, discrimination, rancour, exclusion, or the power of weapons. It demands harmony, solidarity, united efforts, justice, respect for others, for human dignity and human rights”. This was said by Archbishop Renato Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who was speaking in Cotonou in Benin on the theme: “The concern of the Catholic Church for development, justice and peace” at the start of a Meeting organised by the Adenauer Foundation and the local Institute of Artisans of Justice and Peace with the title: “Political stability and development: the contribution of the Social Teaching of the Church”.
Archbishop Martino, on his first pastoral visit to Africa as head of the Vatican Council for Justice and Peace, spoke among other things of the serious problem of the causes of the conflicts which bloody the continent, identifying one cause in particular, cupidity for the resources of which Africa’s soil and subsoil are rich . “These riches – Archbishop Martin pointed out – are desired by interest groups which exploit the extension and permanence of conflicts for dirty trafficking , paying a percentage to leaders in producing countries. What is needed is more solidarity, more justice, more sharing of these resources”.
Another no less serious cause was indicated by Archbishop Martino: the exclusion of individuals and peoples, on the grounds of ethnic or racial hatred which can only be eliminated by education to values and conversion of hearts to accept those who are different and to show mutual respect and appreciation. The Archbishop is convinced that the desired peace among peoples can only be reached with solidarity. “This need is urgently felt in this era of globalisation in which the emphasis given to the free market risks putting to one side the progress and development of entire areas of the planet and a large portion of humanity, which cannot compete with equal strength with industrialised countries”.
Underlining that the right to development and the right to peace are inseparable and interdependent, Archbishop Martino said that authentic elevation of man is obtained through respect for values such as the right to life, the identity of every people, equality among persons, solidarity, liberty, truth, protection of the environment. Speaking about the crucial problem of international debts of poor countries, the President of Justice and Peace stressed the need to ensure that the money released from the remission of these debts must be invested in priority sectors such as health, educaiton and other social services: the generosity of industrialised countries must be met with a more acute sense of responsibility on the part of beneficiary countries. Echoing Pope John Paul II, the Archbishop said that Africa does not need pity, it needs solidarity and justice. Left alone Africans will never find the way out of the chaos into which they have been plunged by decades of dependence, oppression, violence and antagonism of all sorts. They will succeed only with the help and the solidarity of the international community. SL (Fides Service 13/5/2003 EM lines 35 Words: 487)