"Africa Doesn't Need Pity But Solidarity," Archbishop Martino Says

Addresses Congress on African Development in Benin

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COTONOU, Benin, MAY 13, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, says Africa's development depends on agreement, solidarity, united efforts, justice, and the respect of others' rights.



Conflicts, discrimination, rancor, and the force of arms make development impossible, the archbishop said on Tuesday in Cotonou, during his first pastoral trip to Africa as president of this Pontifical Council.

Archbishop Martino opened the meeting, organized by the Adenauer Foundation and the local Institute of Artisans of Justice and Peace, entitled: "Political Stability and Development: The Contribution of the Social Teaching of the Church." The meeting will end on Thursday.

In his address on "The Concern of the Catholic Church for Development, Justice, and Peace," the archbishop said that development "cannot be built on conflicts, discrimination, rancor, exclusion, or the power of weapons. It demands harmony, solidarity, united efforts, justice, respect for others, for human dignity and human rights."

Archbishop Martino addressed the causes of the bloody conflicts afflicting Africa, identifying one cause in particular: greed for the resources of which Africa's soil and subsoil are rich.

"These riches are desired by interest groups which exploit the extension and permanence of conflicts for dirty trafficking, paying a percentage to leaders in producing countries," he said. "What is needed is more solidarity, more justice, more sharing of these resources."

No less serious, the archbishop pointed out, is 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.

Convinced that the desired peace among peoples can only be reached with solidarity, the archbishop stressed that "this need is urgently felt in this era of globalization 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 industrialized countries."

Emphasizing that the right to development and the right to peace are inseparable and interdependent, Archbishop Martino said that the 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.

Concerning the international debts of poor countries, Archbishop Martino stressed the need to ensure that the money released from the remission of these debts must be invested in priority sectors such as health, education, and other social services. The generosity of industrialized countries must be met with a more acute sense of responsibility on the part of beneficiary countries, he added.

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, he concluded.