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Vision for ethical dialogue between religious and world leaders

Religious leaders have a distinctive role in appealing to the conscience of world leaders, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin told the UN on Thursday.

But the archbishop, who was formerly Vatican nuncio to UN agencies in Geneva, said religious insights could also provide "a framework within which believers and nonbelievers alike can work".

"Religious language contains much of the wisdom which has been refined over the centuries through a dialogue on the deeper questions of humankind," he said.

Archbishop Martin, also a former Vatican justice and peace official, gave the main address at an event sponsored by the Vatican's UN mission in connection with a weeklong meeting to prepare for the next session of the Commission on Sustainable Development in New York next month.

Archbishop Martin noted that this year was the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council document "Gaudium et Spes," the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, and said he was presenting his reflections in accordance with its "method of dialogue."

As an example, he said the religious concept of creation, with its implication that the world cannot be used "just according to our own private whim," harmonized with the international community's concept of a form of development that the ecology could sustain over generations.

Archbishop Martin said development should be worked out in the context of "a creative tension" that kept in balance three principles: the dignity of every individual person, the unity of the human family and care for the environment.

Every individual has inalienable rights and unique capacities, and the poor individual who is to be helped by development should therefore be seen as a brother or sister, not as a mere statistic, he said.

Declaring that what people living in poverty wanted above everything else was "voice," he said this meant establishing "systems of participation" and helping them find work where they could express their own creativity.

Archbishop tells UN that development issues have ethical dimension (Catholic News Service 4/3/05)


United Nations Division for Sustainable Development
Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes

7 Mar 2005