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NRL News
Page 11
February/March 2010
Volume 37
Issue 2-3

Cardinal Martino Honored for Dedicated Pro-Life Leadership

By Jeanne E. Head, R.N., Vice President for International Affairs

On February 12, 2010, on the occasion of his retirement from his official duties for the Vatican, members of the United Nations Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Pro-Life/Pro-Family Coalition, including NRLC, held a dinner in Rome, Italy, honoring and thanking H.E. Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino for his 16 years of brilliant and dedicated leadership in defense of innocent human life and family at the UN.

In 1994, prior to the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), Pope Paul John II was so alarmed about the anti-life and anti-family goals of the proposed population conference that he put out a call to all people of good will and of all faiths to go to Cairo and join the battle for the protection of unborn children and the family. NRLC, along with hundreds of other individuals and groups, answered that call.

Then-Archbishop Martino, who was the Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, was charged to lead an alliance of pro-life/pro-family nations and people of all faiths in the battle for innocent human life and family worldwide. It was at Cairo that the UN Pro-Life/Pro-Family Coalition was born.

There is no doubt that Archbishop Martino’s courage in the face of much opposition and derision by UN and government officials, his steadfast commitment, dedication and wise leadership was responsible for preventing abortion from being recognized as a fundamental human right worldwide through the documents of the 1994 ICPD and the subsequent maze of Conferences, Conventions, Commission meetings, and Resolutions that followed.

NRLC honored Archbishop Martino for his extraordinary work at the UN with our Proudly Pro-Life Award at our Dinner in 2002. Humble and gracious as ever, Archbishop Martino spent much of his remarks praising fellow pro-lifers, National Right to Life, and the NRL Educational Trust Fund, which sponsored the dinner.

Through legislative initiatives, lobbying efforts, and the personal witness of all those connected to this national organization, the right to life will remain in the forefront of political, economic, cultural and social discussions,” Archbishop Martino said. “I remain grateful for the mission of the National Right to Life Committee, and for its uncompromising role in promoting human life as the treasure that it is.”

In a letter read at the Rome dinner, NRLC reaffirmed that honor which was and is still so richly deserved and thanked the Cardinal for the inspired leadership that guided us through those turbulent years and serves us even today as we continue the battle for the protection of innocent human life throughout the world.

Speaking of Cardinal Martino, John Klink, long time dedicated negotiator for the Holy See at the UN throughout those years, said, “His leadership and support led to pro-life and pro-family victories at one UN conference after another. Millions have benefited from His Eminence’s refusal to shirk what he knew to be right.”

Cardinal Martino was called to leave his UN post and return to Rome in 2002 for a new assignment as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. He was elevated to cardinal by John Paul II in 2003. Since leaving his UN work, Cardinal Martino has continued his fight for life. In 2005, he intervened directly in efforts to save the life of Terri Schiavo who was being denied food and water and left to die by medical professionals and the courts, and in 2007, he urged Catholics to cease giving money to Amnesty International because of its endorsement of abortion as a human right.

Those who know him well know that although he is retiring from his official duties, he is not retiring from the defense of innocent human life and family—a cause he holds so dear to his heart.

Cardinal Martino was presented with a book of memorabilia from the Pro-Life/Pro-Family NGO Coalition of activities related to the battles to protect life and family at the UN during his tenure. Since he plans to write his memoirs, he is asking for further input of additional relevant stories and memorabilia.

Jeanne E. Head, R.N., is NRLC’s Vice President for International Affairs and UN Representative. NRL’s Educational Trust Fund has Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as a Non-Governmental Organization—a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly. Jeanne was the first representative at the UN in New York for the International Right to Life Federation when it received its ECOSOC status in 1987 and still serves in that capacity as well.