Governments Urged to Watch Agenda of U.N. Agencies

Vatican Officials Say Pro-abortion Efforts Violate International Pacts

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ROME, SEPT. 16, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A Vatican official appealed to governments to remind them of their duty to denounce U.N. agencies that go against international agreements by promoting abortion.



The appeal by Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was supported by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer to the U.N. offices in Geneva.

It took place after the presentation Wednesday of a report of the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA).

Against numerous studies that point to a worrying "demographic winter," the UNFPA report continues to predict a "demographic explosion" and sees births as an obstacle for development and the environment.

Since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, UNFPA and other U.N. agencies have used demographic data to try to justify the implementation of abortion in the world.

"Governments have the duty to denounce the UNFPA and other U.N. agencies that violate the Program of Action signed in Cairo, trying to promote free abortion," said Cardinal Martino, who for 16 years was the papal representative at the United Nations in New York.

In statements to a publication of the European Center of Studies on Population, Environment and Development, the cardinal recalled that in Cairo the Holy See formed a front together with 40 other countries "to block the attempt to introduce for the first time the right to abortion in an international document."

"It must be remembered that the Clinton administration, which was represented in Cairo by Vice President Al Gore, defended this point with determination and radicalness," Cardinal Martino said.

"But in the end we achieved consensus and Article 8.25 of the approved Program of Action states explicitly that in no case can abortion be considered as a means of family planning," he continued.

"Since then, every international conference on sustainable development, up to the last one held in Johannesburg in 2002, has witnessed the attempt of the usual pressure groups which seek to reintroduce the question of abortion in different ways," the cardinal added.

Among these groups are various U.N. agencies, said the cardinal. He appealed to governments' sense of responsibility: "Funds cannot be allocated to multilateral agencies and then be disinterested in the way they are used."

"Governments must control the use that is made of their citizens' money and they have the duty to denounce any violation of Article 8.25 of Cairo's Program of Action, according to which, no U.N. agency can allow the promotion of abortion," Cardinal Martino said.

"For this reason, the Holy See has for some years withdrawn its own contribution to the United Nations Children's Fund. It must be remembered that these organizations have only executive power, and cannot go beyond the mandate that has been given to them in documents signed by the governments," he explained.

For his part, Archbishop Tomasi, the Holy See's observer to the United Nations in Geneva, said in statements published by CESPAS magazine that the Cairo conference "established new philosophical foundations on which to base global policies."

This view sees in the "excess of population the primary cause of poverty." In this way, he continued, "the natural law has been canceled and the value and dignity of the person has become something secondary."

What comes first in this philosophy is "well-being, beginning with the economic, and the most exacerbated individualism, namely, a conception of the person shut in on himself, without any other reference than himself," Archbishop Tomasi said.

"This has conditioned all kinds of social and political programs," he added. "Religions themselves become something acceptable if they fit in this horizon, otherwise, they become obstacles that must be eliminated."

For agencies in charge of implementing the Cairo conclusions, despite the fact that "in their documents they talk about the struggle against poverty, their real concern is not development, but birth control, which they present as the way to facilitate development," the archbishop said.

On the contrary, the papal representative said, "underdeveloped countries are not necessarily very populated. What is more, some are lacking in population. Moreover, the most important resource for development is people's creativity; experience shows that an aging and conservative population is incapable of innovation, of growth."

He added: "To promote development, other important factors are necessary: the education of the human resources, the distribution of resources which is often hindered by political power, access to products of international markets."