Pro-Life Hero, Catholic Cardinal Renato Martino Retires From Top Vatican Post

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 21, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Hero, Catholic Cardinal Renato Martino Retires From Top Vatican Post

by Austin Ruse
January 21, 2010 Note: Austin Ruse writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax publication.

The Vatican ( — United Nations (UN) pro-lifers are saluting a man they consider one of the great, unsung heroes of the international pro-life and pro-family movements. Cardinal Renato Martino, longtime papal nuncio to the United Nations, has retired after 47 years of service to the Holy See, most of which was spent in the diplomatic service.

Cardinal Martino served as papal nuncio at the UN from 1986 to 2002, a period in which UN abortion debates reached their high water mark of divisiveness at the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994) and the Fourth World Congress on Women (Beijing, 1995).

Prior to the Cairo conference Pope John Paul II gave a series of talks in which he outlined the impending threat to life and family that could be expected from that conference. John Paul II called for regular people to go to Cairo to help the Holy See and other pro-life nations, a call that created the UN pro-life movement. At the same time, John Paul II initiated a highly potent alliance between Muslim and Catholic states.

Beginning at Cairo and moving through dozens of conferences large and small, pro-life and pro-life forces have been successful in blocking attempts by abortion advocates to make abortion a universal right. They have also blocked attempts to redefine the family, gender and much else.

While John Paul II set the course of the Holy See’s role in all these debates, it was left to Cardinal Martino and his staff of negotiators to carry them out. Sometimes this was lonely work and put Cardinal Martino and his staff up for international derision. Holy See negotiators have been surrounded and berated by abortion advocates and have also been browbeaten by governmental chairmen of negotiating sessions.

John Klink, long time chief negotiator for the Holy See at the UN, recalls the time he asked Cardinal Martino what his instructions were for an upcoming negotiation. Cardinal Martino answered, “Follow the Gospel.”

Klink continued, “His leadership and support led to pro-life and pro-family victories at one UN conference after another. Millions have benefited from His Eminences refusal to shirk what he knew to be right.”

Cardinal Martino left the UN in 2002, returned to Rome, was made president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and was elevated to cardinal by John Paul II in 2003.

At the council, Martino personally facilitated the publication of the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church” (2004), which was translated into 38 languages and published in 56 countries. He also founded the Saint Matthew Foundation, which supports worldwide projects to reduce poverty, educate children, and otherwise aid sick, poor and handicapped children.

Never giving up the fight for the unborn child, in 2007 Cardinal Martino urged Catholics to cease giving money to Amnesty International because of its endorsement of abortion as a human right. He also intervened directly in efforts to save the life of Terry Schiavo, an American woman suffering brain damage who was denied food and water and left to die by medical professionals in 2005.

Pro-lifers are hosting a dinner for Cardinal Martino in Rome on February 12.

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