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Tuesday, May 13, 2003


VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, is in Cotonou, Benin where he spoke this morning at the opening of a conference entitled "Political Stability and Development: The Contribution of the Social Doctrine of the Church." His talk focussed on "The Catholic Church's Concern for Development, Justice and Peace." The three-day meeting was organized by the Adenauer Foundation and by the Institute of Artisans of Justice and Peace of Cotonou.

According to a communique published by the council, Archbishop Martino noted that "development cannot be built on conflicts, discrimination, rancor, exclusion, nor on the force of arms. It calls for agreement, solidarity, the joining of efforts, attention to one's neighbor, justice amd respect for the dignity of the person and of his rights."

He also spoke of the serious problem of the causes of the conflicts which have covered the African continent with blood, stating that one of these causes lies in the greed for the resources that are so abundant in the African soil and subsoil. "Such riches are coveted by interest groups that exploit the breadth and the permanent nature of the conflicts for dirty commerce, paying bribes to the leaders of producing countries. There is need for greater solidarity, greater justice, greater participation in the administration of these resources." Another cause, he said, is exclusion which takes the form of ethnic discrimination and racial hatred.

The archbishop also pointed to the question of international debt, saying that there is a need for the sums that have been freed up by the remission of debt to be invested in priority sectors such as health, education and other social services.


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