Proposed Conclusions
Conclusions and proposals offered by Cardinal Raffael Martino in relation to the new compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church.

Author: Renato Raffaele Cardenal Martino | | Source:


Renato Raffaele Cardenal Martino 

President of the Pontifical Council "Justice and Peace" 

Mexico City, November 22, 2005 

1. We have reached the conclusions of our Continental Seminar on the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. I am sure I can interpret the feelings of all the participants, directing our Thanksgiving to Jesus, who in these days of intense reflection has helped us to understand how his Gospel is the source of all authentic deliverance and all human true promotion of man and, at the same time, has driven us to a generous effort to give concrete action to the social message of his Church. In the contemplation of the Holy Face of Jesus, God and true man, in the comforting discovery that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life, we find the most appropriate reasons for any social and political commitment, inspired by an integral and solidarity humanism, soon to give our world a future of justice and peace. 


2. Our Seminar has been characterized by the dedication that has been made to the representatives of the Church, those pilgrims in America of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. 


The Compendium is now in the hands of our ecclesial communities, so that a generous and profound work of contextualization and inculturation of its message is carried out. It is in the hands of the bishops that in the Compendium they will find valuable inspirations to enrich their social magisterium; it is in the hands of the priests that he will find inspirations and indications for the pastoral work of the evangelization of social life and to increase the indispensable formative and educational activity; it is in the hands of the people of consecrated life that, through the testimony of their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, they can offer the whole Church a new way of dealing with material goods and of bringing new relationships into evidence; it is in the hands, above all, of the lay faithful that by their vocation identity and their mission, they are particularly involved in making concrete the social doctrine of the Church. Without a promotion of the vocation and the mission of the laity it is difficult to give a concrete perspective of implementation to the social doctrine of the Church. The Compendium strongly registers this requirement in its last chapter where it talks about the subjects of the evangelization of social life. 


3. The most authoritative delivery of the Compendium, we have been made by Pope Benedict XVI, who with his message, has given an extraordinary value to our seminar, indicating in the document a valuable tool and a precious help to increase the action of the new evangelization and the evangelization of social life. With his message, the Holy Father has given us the understanding that social doctrine constitutes a real pastoral priority. To the Holy Father we have already given him the feelings of our gratitude and of our filial and joyful adherence to his insurer and enlightening Magisterium. Your message contains some pastoral indications that are particularly valuable to our future commitment. I limit myself to remember two: 


a.   The close connection between evangelization and social doctrine of the Church, with the invitation to give the latter an appropriate context in the various national realities, in the social, economic and political spheres. In fact the Compendium is characterized as an instrument that responds to the universal dimensions of the Church, but it requires the commitment of the episcopal conferences to give a "local" profile that responds better to the essential local dimension of the Church (n. 8). In this regard, testimonies from the various episcopal conferences on the initiatives to pastorally promote the compendium in the context of each country have been of great value and importance. I would like to point out in this respect a document from the Argentine Episcopal conference which is presented as a well-achieved text of local contextualization of the Compendium.


b. The Holy Father also asks us to use the Compendium in our pastoral work of formation. Social doctrine is not a political, social or economic program; it proposes to cultivate and form the minds and the hearts so that, with freedom and autonomy, they decide to make those social, economic and political options that serve to concretize the ideal of an integral and solidarity humanism. This formation, the Holy Father invites us, must be finalized to the lay faithful who, as claimed before, are in fact the great recipients of the social doctrine.


A complete formation that is made such by a constant reference to the full truth of the Christian faith, which feeds on the liturgical life, especially the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, a formation that at the time of the study, it manages to enrich itself with the inspiration and the orientations of the social doctrine and, at the same time, of the precious contribution that it receives of the human sciences and of the philosophy. 


4. Training is the main challenge we face. I strongly hope that the Compendium will make a small miracle:-to make known the social doctrine that in many environments remains an illustrious unknown; 


-To liberate the social doctrine of the specialized circles to make the patrimony of the whole Church. The social doctrine of the Church is not a doctrine of someone for someone; it is church doctrine for the whole Church. 


In the face of this training challenge I think it is important to propose some indications that could better assess the many resources present in America: 


-I think it is important that the social doctrine be inserted in the studiorum curricula of the students of theology and in the training programs of the religious institutes, both male and female; 


-To achieve a more intense collaboration of the many Catholic universities, which are already active in the study and dissemination of the social doctrine of the Church. They will be spaces in which social doctrine inspires a rational deepening of social issues. The social doctrine of the Church, which feeds on the two sources of revelation and natural law, cannot not argue by taking advantage of both fides and ratio. I announce that the universities, which have participated with great enthusiasm in our seminar, will be able to unite to identify the criteria to use the social doctrine and the criteria of valuation of the interdisciplinary dimension of this doctrine. In this regard I would like to announce that the Pontifical Council will organise, next year, an international seminar on universities and social doctrine of the Church. 


-To insert social doctrine, as requested by the Holy Father in his message, in the various pastoral and catechetical actions. 


-Use the Compendium in the training programmes of associations, movements and groups. Often, in these programs, there is no trace of reference to social doctrine, as if it can be considered as an adjunct and secondary and not as a fundamental and central to a correct conception of the Christian life. Particular attention should be given to training in the social doctrine of the Church of the young generations. 


-To reinforce some initiatives that by their nature are linked to the social doctrine; I am referring to the social weeks present in some countries or to the series of institutes which, at various levels, work to promote the knowledge and dissemination of the social doctrine of the Church. 


All this requires having in the front row the organizations of social pastoral, for the sensitization of the whole Church on the necessity of the social doctrine. 


5. I would like to confirm to you that the organization of this seminar has always been accompanied by a certain concern, the concern to see and verify, for the first time, the capacity of the Compendium to become a contextualized reflection in the American Continent. After the first World Congress of the ecclesial bodies working for justice and peace, and the decision taken to make continental meetings, we could not not start in America, since the proposal of the Compendium was formulated in the scope of the Synod For America and formalized in the exhortation post Synodal Ecclesia in America (N. 54). The concern became a joyful conviction in the capacity of this instrument to delineate concrete processes of promotion and liberation of the men and women of this Continent.


It is not possible to synthesize the many contributions that came to us, the result of the qualified relations and the appreciated interventions of the Assembly. I strongly hope that this valuable material can be collected and published. This may be used to delineate one of the intermediate stages that will lead to the CELAM General Assembly in Brazil, in 2007. 


America, which more than any other continent has historically highlighted the close links between evangelization and human promotion, has a great responsibility to the whole Universal Church: to make a concrete view of how, in fact, social doctrine is able to promote justice and peace to give hope and trust to the people.


In this perspective I wish to remind and share with you some hopes and fears that arise from the awareness of the concrete situation of this great and important Continent: 


-The first area of care is poverty. The poor are the treasure of the Church because of the preferential option that commits to use the goods of the earth in the perspective of their universal destiny. The most dramatic problem concerning poverty is the unbearable situation of inequality which, beyond specific differences, weighs as a huge stone on the future of almost all the countries of the continent. The Church in America has a historical task in acting to overcome this situation. 


-The second issue concerns the role of the market that the cultural and political perspective of neoliberalism retains only and absolute regulator and governor of economic life. The Church is not against the market, but considers the market a medium not an end and with respect to it has no restraint, conscious that this one must be judged with great freedom. Currently, also on the part of many scholars, it is understood the updated and punctual of the message of the Church. It's not the first time it's happened. The message of the Church, at first misunderstood and fought, is revealed at the end of certain victories and prophetic processes. The communist vicissitudes are emblematic of this. The Church has an economic and social perspective of great balance in which the market, the State, the economic initiatives of the civil society concur to give body to a solidarity and integral development. 


I cannot stop saying a word to the workers: the work must remain, also today when work changes and lacks the heart and the key of the social question. A word also to the entrepreneurs, called to manage their companies taking into account the social responsibility. I very strongly hope that the Compendium will promote the development of a pastoral work and enterprise. 


-The third issue is that of democracy. The Church does not marry any political system, but it looks with particular attention to democracy, on one condition: democracy must be made authentic with an essential reference to values; to the values that they find in the fundamental rights and duties their basis and in the common good their horizon. In this regard, let us think about how much corruption is undermining citizens' confidence in the democratic system and its credibility. On the issue of corruption, well-treated in the Compendium, the Pontifical Council will organise an international meeting next year. 


In the context of the reflection on democracy, the current problem that interests the family must be placed: more and more public debate and legislative provisions of parliaments, also in America, are the cause of earthquakes that hit inexorably the institution of the family, which the Lord has wanted founded on the marriage between a man and a woman. The Church is not against democracy, but against the totalitarian dictatorships of the majorities that act to the point of compromising the fundamental and primary institutions of human coexistence. 


6. Dear friends we must experience a legitimate pride in being the recipients of the social doctrine of the Church that is now proposed in the Compendium. Like all Christian pride, also ours must be serviced and minister towards others, to realize in the world the civilization of the love. That is why I cannot fail to remember and underline the social dimension of the Eucharist. The Servant of God John Paul II, in the Apostolic Letter Mane Nobiscum Domine, particularly in two beautiful paragraphs on the social dimension of our faith and Christian worship, reminded us, in the first place, that we are called to the intimate union with God and with the brethren and that we have in the Eucharist an inexhaustible source of life and a school of communion, of solidarity, of justice and of peace, that enables us to face the great challenges that confront humanity today (cf. N. 27).


Immediately asserted that they are love, service and active commitment to build a more just and fraternal society, the criterion that reflects the authenticity of our participation in the community celebration of the Eucharist: «It is no coincidence that in the Gospel of John does not find the account of the Eucharistic institution, but the "washing of the feet" (cf. Jn 13.1-20): bowing to wash the feet of his disciples, Jesus unequivocally explains the meaning of the Eucharist. In turn, St. Paul reiterates with vigor that it is not lawful a Eucharistic celebration in which charity does not shine, corroborated by the fact that the goods are effectively shared with the poorest (cf. 1 Co 11,17-22.27-34)» (n. 28). 


This number ends up unambiguously declaring what the Gospel of Matthew, proclaimed at the inaugural mass of our meeting last Sunday in the Basilica of Guadalupe, warned us: “We cannot have illusions: for mutual love and, in particular, for the attention to the needy will be recognized as true disciples of Christ (cf. Jn 13.35; Mt 25,31-46). On the basis of this criterion the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebrations will be verified”. 


Dear friends, the Compendium asks us to be attentive to the demand for personal testimony and to promote a new project of integral and solidarity humanism. The two dimensions should never be separated. The hope of all is that the Compendium inspires credible witnesses and, at the same time, men and women of thought and action, capable of modifying the mechanisms of today's society. The evangelical logic of love must be embodied in the human and rational logic of economics, politics and society. In short we need a new station of social saints, example of Father Hurtado, canonized last October by Benedict XVI. 


Thank you to all of you who have participated in this magnificent encounter; thanks to eminent Cardenal Norberto Rivera, for his generous and unpayable availability; thanks to the IMDOSOC for its careful organisational commitment; thanks to the Cardinal brothers, Bishops, Priests, for their fraternity and support; thank you very much to the rapporteurs and to the moderators who with their contribution have enriched and stimulated our reflection. Thank you, in short, to the people of Mexico who have been here represented at their highest level by the President of the Republic, who has offered us a sincere and valuable reflection. 


We entrust to the Virgin of Guadalupe, patroness and mother of America, the purposes of good arising from our Seminar, imploring to make us generous servants of justice a

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