VATICAN CITY – The absolute frontline in the prevention of crime is the family, a top Vatican official told members of Interpol, the international police organization.
To prevent crime and violence, societies must educate citizens about values that can be learned earliest and best in the family, said Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican's secretary for relations with states.
Those values include their own dignity, the value of human life, solidarity and a sense of justice in society, he said.
The 190 country-members of Interpol not only coordinate crime-fighting efforts, but also work together on crime prevention programs.
An increase of crime, particularly violent crime, calls for strong preventive actions, Mamberti said.
Prevention requires "the removal of factors which give rise to and nourish situations of injustice," he said.
The most important place in which human beings are formed is the family, he said.
"There, children experience the value of their own transcendent dignity, as they are accepted gratuitously on the basis of the stable and reciprocal love of their parents."
In the family, people have their first experiences of "justice and forgiveness, which cements family relationships and acts as a foundation for the correct insertion into social life," Mamberti said.
He also insisted that the respect for human dignity at the basis of good social order must be extended to those who have disturbed the social order.
"The criminal, no matter how grave the crimes he committed, always remains a human person, endowed with rights and obligations," he said.