U.N. Manual on Refugees´ "Reproductive Health" Is Assailed

Note from Pontifical Councils for Health, Migrants and Family

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 9, 2001 (Zenit.org).- A U.N. field manual for refugees that promotes abortion, contraception and homosexual behavior has come under fire from a trio of pontifical councils.



The Pontifical Councils for Health Care Workers, for Migrants and Travelers, and for the Family signed a Note criticizing the manual, which deals with the "reproductive health" of refugees. The note is entitled "The Reproductive Health of Refugees: A Note for Episcopal Conferences."

"The purpose of the study is to analyze the ´Inter-Agency Field Manual on Reproductive Health in Refugee Situations,´ a practical book on the ways to assist refugees in the area of so-called ´reproductive health,´" a statement published Thursday by the Vatican Press Office explains.

The 1999 manual was published by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, the U.N. Population Fund, and some nongovernmental organizations.

The Catholic Church´s principal concern is the U.N. manual´s attempt to promote, along with "reproductive health," "individual liberty, neglecting corresponding duties, whether individual or social."

"This has created a moral and intellectual confusion in public opinion and is the cause of initiatives that propose the limitation of births, the concept of irresponsibility in sexual relations, and also abortion," the Vatican Note clarifies.

To counter this approach which describes the person as "utilitarian and neo-Malthusian," the Holy See proposes "the way of love, of respect, of the protection of refugees´ rights, among which is the inalienable right to life, as the profound reason for the commitment of pastoral agents at the service of life and the condition of refugees."

In particular, the Vatican document points out that the U.N. agencies´ manual proposes the "morning-after" pill without reservations.

The U.N. manual describes the pill as an "emergency contraceptive," even though in reality it can cause early abortions, the Vatican note says.

"Sterilization is also presented as simple ´contraception,´" warns the Vatican press statement.

"Lastly, the field manual accepts the separation between sexuality and procreation through the promotion of a ´nonjudgmental´ attitude on extramarital as well as homosexual relations," the Vatican statement said.

In response to the U.N. manual, the Vatican Note appeals to bishops to pay more attention to "the information programs on ´reproductive health,´" especially in its proposals to adolescents.

The response should be the proclamation of Christian love in its fullness, and not "individualistic and irresponsible sexual pleasure that increases the risk of spreading the HIV/AIDS epidemic," the note concludes.