Cardinal Martino Honored for
Dedicated Pro-Life Leadership
Jeanne E. Head, R.N., Vice President for International Affairs
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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