Renato Martino

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Renato Raffaele Martino
Protodeacon of the College of Cardinals
Renato Raffaele Martino (cropped).jpg
Cardinal Martino in 2011
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
Appointed12 June 2014
PredecessorJean-Louis Tauran
Other postsCardinal-Deacon of S. Francesco di Paola ai Monti
Ordination20 June 1957
by Demetrio Moscato
Consecration14 December 1980
by Agostino Casaroli
Created cardinal21 October 2003
by Pope John Paul II
Personal details
Birth nameRenato Raffaele Martino
Born (1932-11-23) 23 November 1932 (age 87)
Salerno, Italy
NationalityItalian and Vatican
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous post
Alma materPontifical Gregorian University, Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy
MottoVirtus ex Alto ("Power from on high")
Coat of armsRenato Raffaele Martino's coat of arms
Styles of
Renato Martino
Coat of arms of Renato Martino.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
SeeSegerme (titular)

Renato Raffaele Martino (born 23 November 1932) is an Italian prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He has been a cardinal since 2003. He has been the longest serving Cardinal Deacon, the Cardinal Protodeacon, since June 2014. He served for more than twenty years in the diplomatic service of the Holy See, including sixteen years as Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. He held positions in the Roman Curia from 2002 to 2009.

Early life[edit]

Born in Salerno, Martino was ordained as a priest in 1957. He holds a doctorate in Canon law and is fluent in Italian, English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

To prepare for a diplomatic career he entered the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in 1960.[1] He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1962, serving in Nicaragua, the Philippines, Lebanon, Canada, and Brazil.

Apostolic Nuncio[edit]

On 14 September 1980, Martino was named Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Thailand, Apostolic Delegate to Laos, Malaysia, and Singapore, and Titular Archbishop of Segerme.[2] On 24 June 1981, his responsibilities were divided into the roles of Delegate to Singapore and Delegate to Laos and Malaysia.[citation needed] On 7 December 1983, they were reorganized further and he took on the titles Delegate to Laos and Delegate to Malaysia and Brunei.[3]

On 3 December 1986, he was appointed Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.[4] He was in that post during the United States invasion of Panama, when president Noriega had taken refuge at the Vatican embassy.

In 1991, he opposed the American-led invasion of Iraq and was later critical of state sanctions against Iraq. In 1992, he participated at the UN Conference for the environment in Rio de Janeiro, speaking about the "centrality of the human person".

In June 1994, Martino demanded at the UN that a "safe haven" be created for Tutsi refugees in Rwanda in order to save over 30 000 lives in Kabgayi.[5]

In September 1994, he was the official spokesman for the Holy See at the International Conference on Population and Development.

Martino was Pope John Paul II's official representative at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, and he had the task of defending the Church's pro-life teachings before a European-American bloc that strongly supported access to abortion. Martino was able to find support from Latin-American and Arab countries that were anti-abortion, and the Cairo conference was ultimately inconclusive.

Later in 1995, he participated at the World Conference on Women in Beijing, echoing John Paul's positions in his Letter to Women. He has been on diplomatic mission to Côte d'Ivoire to settle disputes there.

Roman Curia[edit]

On 1 October 2002, Martino was named President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.[6]

In November 2003, he championed the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to alleviate world hunger at a conference that he organized to consider the morality of GMOs, which troubled critics concerned about the risks they pose to the environment and heath.[7][8]

Martino was elevated to the College of Cardinals in the consistory of 21 October 2003 becoming Cardinal-Deacon of S. Francesco di Paola ai Monti.[9][10] Martino was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI.

In December 2003, reacting to U.S. treatment of Saddam Hussein, including the release of video showing his teeth being inspected "like a cow", he said: "I felt pity to see this man destroyed. Seeing him like this, a man in his tragedy, despite all the heavy blame he bears, I had a sense of compassion for him."[11] On 6 November 2006, after Hussein had been sentenced to death, Martino said that "...punishing a crime with another crime – which is what killing for vengeance is – would mean that we are still at the point of demanding an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth..." He pleaded for clemency for Hussein and called for a peace conference aimed at solving all the major conflicts in the Middle East and reiterated his position that invasion of Iraq by U.S.-led coalition was wrong.[citation needed]

Martino was named President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants on 11 March 2006.[12]

In November 2006, Martino called plans by the Bush administration to construct an additional 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border "an inhumane program".[13] He also said that Muslims in Europe should respect local laws restricting the wearing of certain types of veils. He said: "It seems elementary to me and it is quite right that the authorities demand it."[14] He said they "must respect the traditions, symbols, culture and religion of the countries they move to".[15]

On 14 June 2007, Martino urged Catholics to withhold donations from Amnesty International after the organization decided in April to advocate support access to abortion in cases where pregnancy threatened a woman's life or was the result of rape or incest.[16]

Speaking on the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict Cardinal Martino said that "Defenseless populations are always the ones who pay. Look at the conditions in Gaza: more and more, it resembles a big concentration camp." He called for peace talks: "If they can't come to an agreement, then someone else should do it (for them). The world cannot sit back and watch without doing anything. We Christians are not the only ones to call this land 'holy', Jews and Muslims do so too. The fact that this land is the scene of bloodshed seems a great tragedy."[17] When the Israeli Foreign Ministry objected to the use of the phrase concentration camp, Vatican officials distanced themselves from Martino's remarks.[18] Elaborating on his remarks, he said: "I say that the conditions people are living in there should be looked at: surrounded by a wall that is difficult to cross, in conditions contrary to human dignity. What is happening during these days is horrible. But when I speak, may people take into account the whole of what I say."[19] He said both sides are "guilty" and that it is "necessary to separate them, like two fighting siblings" and make them "sit down to negotiate".[20]

Cardinal Martino has taken a great interest in automobiles and has proclaimed the Ten Commandments for Drivers. He has collaborated with the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile.


Martino submitted his resignation as required when he reached the age of 75. On 28 February 2009, Pope Benedict relieved Martino of the presidency of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, appointing Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò to succeed him.[21] On 24 October 2009, Pope Benedict named Cardinal Peter Turkson to succeed Martino as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.[22]

In July 2010, Martino assumed the position of Honorary President of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, a Rome-based organisation established to promote human dignity "based on the recognition that man is made in the image and likeness of God".[23] He resigned in 2019.[24]

In November 2010, Martino was appointed by Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro as Grand Prior of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George. On 25 June 2012 Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro appointed him Knight of the Illustrious Royal Order of Saint Januarius.

On 8 October 2011, he was named special papal envoy to the celebration of the centenary of the cathedral of Yangon, Burma, scheduled for 8 December 2011.[25] Martino met with Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, a Buddhist, before the Mass.[26]

Though too old to participate in the 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis, Martino was one of the six cardinals who made the public act of obedience on behalf of the College of Cardinals to the new pope at his papal inauguration.[a][27][28]

On 12 June 2014, Martino became the longest serving cardinal deacon following the elevation of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran to the rank of Cardinal-Priest. Martino had declined to exercise his option of taking the title of Cardinal-Priest after ten years as Cardinal-Deacon.[29][30]

In letters dated 21 July 2017, the Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda issued notice that Martino's 2014 appointment to the Order of the Nation had been annulled.[31]


  1. ^ Cardinals Giovanni Battista Re and Tarcisio Bertone represented the cardinal-bishops; Cardinals Joachim Meisner and Jozef Tomko represented the cardinal-priests; Cardinals Francesco Marchisano and Martino represented the cardinal-deacons.


  1. ^ "Pontificia Accademia Ecclesiastica, Ex-alunni 1950 – 1999" (in Italian). Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  2. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). LXXII. 1980. pp. 977, 1160. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  3. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). LXXVI. 1984. p. 262. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Former Observers". The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  5. ^ Lewis, Paul (1 June 1994). "Vatican Asks U.N. for 'Safe Area' in Rwanda". New York Times. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  6. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 01.10.2002" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 1 October 2002. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  7. ^ "The Moral Implications of GMOs". Wired. Associated Press. 11 November 2003. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  8. ^ Popham, Peter (11 November 2003). "Vatican looks to GM food as panacea for hungry and burgeoning global population". The Independent. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  9. ^ "Assignment of the Titles or the Deaconries to the new Cardinals". Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations. 21 October 2003. Archived from the original on 19 August 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  10. ^ "List of the 31 New Cardinals". New York Times. Reuters. 28 September 2003. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  11. ^ Horowitz, Jason (17 December 2003). "Pity at the Vatican for a Captive". New York Times. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 11.03.2006" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 11 March 2006. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  13. ^ Kiefer, Peter (14 November 2006). "Vatican Official Criticizes U.S. Border Fence Plan". New York Times. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  14. ^ Willey, David (14 November 2006). "Vatican enters Muslim veil debate". BBC News. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  15. ^ Crouch, Gregory (17 November 2006). "Dutch Government Proposes Public Ban on Burkas". New York Times. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  16. ^ "Cardinal Wants Catholics to Halt Aid to Rights Group". New York Times. Associated Press. 14 June 2007. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  17. ^ "Vatican justice minister calls Gaza Strip a 'big concentration camp'". The Telegraph. 7 January 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  18. ^ Bronner, Ethan (8 January 2009). "U.N. and Red Cross Add to Outcry on Gaza War". New York Times. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  19. ^ Politi, Marco (8 January 2009). "Dicano quello che vogliono ma la dignità umana è calpestata". La Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  20. ^ "Cardinal Discounts "Tension" Over Gaza Comment". Zenit. 9 January 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  21. ^ "New President for Migrants Council". Zenit. 1 March 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  22. ^ "Vaticano, il cardinale ghanese Turkson presidente di Giustizia e Pace". Il Sole 24 Ore (in Italian). 24 October 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  23. ^ "H E Cardinal Martino". Dignitatis Humanae Institute. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  24. ^ "Steve Bannon wins case to set up Italy political academy". Reuters. 27 May 2020. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  25. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 08.10.2011" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 8 October 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  26. ^ "Burma: Aung San Suu Kyi meets Cardinal Martino". Independent Catholic News. 15 December 2001. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  27. ^ Rolandi, Luca (19 March 2013). "Il giorno di Papa Francesco: La messa di inizio pontificato in Piazza San Pietro" (in Italian). Archived from the original on 8 August 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  28. ^ Inaugural Mass of the Pontificate (Vatican video of Pope Francis' papal inauguration on YouTube
  29. ^ "Assegnazione del titolo presbiterale ad alcuni cardinali diaconi creati nel consistoro del 21 ottobre 2003" (in Italian). 12 June 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  30. ^ Scaramuzzi, Jacopo (12 June 2014). "Martino diventa cardinale protodiacono (senza "Habemus Papam")". La Stampa (in Italian). Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  31. ^

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Silvio Luoni
Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Thailand and to Singapore,
Apostolic Delegate to Laos and to Malaysia

14 September 1980 – 3 December 1986
Succeeded by
Alberto Tricarico
Preceded by
Apostolic Delegate to Brunei Darussalam
7 December 1983–3 December 1986
Succeeded by
Adriano Bernardini
Preceded by
Giovanni Cheli
Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations
3 December 1986 – 1 October 2002
Succeeded by
Celestino Migliore
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Nguyen Van Thuan
President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
1 October 2002 – 24 October 2009
Succeeded by
Peter Turkson
Preceded by
Pietro Pavan
Cardinal-Deacon of San Francesco di Paola ai Monti
21 October 2003–present
Preceded by
Stephen Fumio Hamao
President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples
11 March 2006 – 28 February 2009
Succeeded by
Antonio Maria Vegliò
Preceded by
Jean-Louis Tauran
Cardinal Protodeacon
12 June 2014–present