Monday, April 28, 2014

Tour of side events on day 1 of the recent Commission on Population and Development

A recap of Day 1 events at the 47th Commission on Population & Development at the United Nations in New York by Tanya Granic Allen of Campaign Life Coalition Canada. Topics include: abortion, sertilization, contraception, expanding the role of midwives to include abortion, national sovereignty, and misplaced global priorities.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The ECLJ calls the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to investigate on children born alive after late abortion

The European Centre for Law and Justice (ELCJ) has announced in a press release that it has lodged an urgent appeal with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture cases on the issue of torture
of babies during late term abortions.
The full ELCJ statement is set out below and can be accessed on this link
In an “urgent appeal”, the ECLJ has called the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to investigate on children born alive after late abortion, and on methods of late abortion, especially in the United-Kingdom and Canada: in Canada, between 2000 and 2011, 622 babies born alive after an abortion were left to die, and 66 in the United Kingdom in 2005. Some cruel methods of late abortion constitute torture, especially the one called dilatation and evacuation: the foetus, still alive, is dismembered to be pulled out of the womb in pieces.

The ECLJ has communicated to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture cases of torture due to late abortion. Appointed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on Torture can examine questions relevant to torture in all countries. He transmits urgent appeals to States, undertakes fact-finding country visits and submits annual reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

Scientific evidence proves that foetuses and premature babies can feel pain at least as much as adults. Foetuses are responsive to touch at 8 weeks and have the physical structure to experience pain at 20 weeks.

As early as 16 weeks, an infant can survive for a while out of the womb, and it is considered viable at 22 weeks. However, in Canada, there is no legal limit for abortion, even if medical rules recommend limiting abortion on demand to 22 weeks. In the UK, abortion is legal until 24 weeks, and until the end of pregnancy in case of foetal anomaly.

British Department of Health figures show that 2860 abortions at 20 weeks or more were carried out in England and Wales in 2012. In 2012, 160 abortions were done after 24 weeks, including 38 between 28 and 31 weeks, and 28 after 32 weeks. 66 babies were thus aborted after 28 weeks, which was the viability limit defined by the WHO until 1975: an infant born at that gestational age can survive without medical help.

In Canada in 2011, there were 823 abortions between 17 and 20 weeks, 549 after 21 weeks[1]. These figures are severely underestimated since they do not include Quebec (more than 26,000 abortions a year, including over 1500 after 14 weeks) nor clinics, though more than half abortions are done in clinics.

Late abortion being difficult to perform, it happens that babies are born alive after an abortion. In 2007, a study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology[2] concluded that about 1 in 30 abortions after 16 weeks’ gestation result in a born-alive infant. At 23 weeks’ gestation, the number reached 9.7%. In that case, they are left to die without any care, or killed. The Guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists[3] recommends killing these babies by lethal injection. When they are not killed, they are not fed, not even covered, no care is given them even if they were wounded by the attempted abortion. They are left to suffer and die alone. According to official statistics, between 2000 and 2011 in Canada, 622 babies were born alive and left to die after an abortion. They were 66 in 2005 in the United Kingdom, where no statistics were published on this issue the following years.

Concerning Syria, the Special Rapporteur recently stressed that deprival of food, water, shelter and medical care constitutes a crime against humanity. Depriving newborn babies of elementary care, whatever the conditions of their birth, constitutes torture and should also be considered a crime against humanity.

Some methods of abortion, especially dilatation and evacuation, should be banned because of the inhumane suffering they cause for the foetus. According to the statistics of the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 1226 abortions in 2010 and 1341 in 2011 used the method of dilatation and evacuation in Canadian hospitals (except Quebec and not including clinics)[4], while among the 160 late abortions in England and Wales in 2012, 43% were by dilatation and evacuation.

In the case of dilatation and evacuation, the cervix is dilated, then the “content of the uterus” is pulled out with a clamp. In the end, the pieces are examined to make sure everything has been removed. This means that the body is gathered like a puzzle, because in many cases it has been dismembered during the operation. If there was no feticide injection first, or if the injection did not cause death[5], the foetus was alive while its members were being torn off one after the other. This frightfully cruel method is inhumane and constitutes torture.



[3] and
[4] 2010:; 2011:

[5] According to a study, the injection effectively induced fetal death in 87% of women. This means that 13 % survived. Nucatola D, Roth N, Gatter M. A randomized pilot study on the effectiveness and side-effect profiles of two doses of digoxin as fetocide when administered intraamniotically or intrafetally prior to second-trimester surgical abortion. Contraception. 2010 Jan;81(1):67-74. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2009.08.014. Epub . Available at

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Origin of Planned Parenthood

This is an interesting video which looks at the origin of Planned Parenthood and the ideas of Margaret Sanger with a focus on eugenics and the elimination of those Sanger considered to be undesirable.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Major clash on abortion and sexual rights at UN conference

The 47th session of Commission on Population and Development (CPD 47) held at UN headquarters in New York last week was a controversial process from start to finish

This year’s CPD has to be viewed through the lens the original Cairo Conference on Population and Development (also known as the ICPD or Cairo Programme), during which an uneasy balance was reached between the radical western sexual rights agenda and the more generally accepted societal norms for life and family issues, but that did not stop the anti life brigade from endeavouring to implement their complete agenda of sexual and reproductive rights, which includes among other things, abortion on demand, comprehensive sexuality education for children and adolescents and acceptance of every form of sexual practice including sexual orientation and gender identity.

Despite the fact that it had been agreed during a previous session there would not be a negotiated outcome document this year nevertheless it transpired that there would after all be a document but this would be procedural only. In the final analysis the draft document produced for the purposes of commencing negotiations was is fact much more than a procedural text and included controversial paragraphs which if accepted would have expanded the scope of the original Cairo agreement despite the fact that it was purported to be simply, an ‘Assessment of the status of Implementaion of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development.’

The ugly, anti life agenda was all too evident during the negotiations.  The gloves were off and a deadly war was waged against the unborn, marriage, children and the family.

In what could be termed a marathon session even for the UN, the attempt to expand the carefully crafted Cairo Platform language to include sexual rights came to an end when, in the early hours of Saturday morning, it finally dawned on the anti-life brigade that they would not succeed this time in obtaining their cherished pro-abortion and sexual rights language in the CPD outcome document. The tactic of stringing out the negotiations in order to tire out ones opponents and get them to agree controversial issues, simply to bring matters to a conclusion failed miserably and the Holy See, the African Union member states and some others bravely held the line to the end.

The final statement in explanation position made by the Holy See Negotiator the Rev. Fr Justin Wiley at 7am on Saturday morning is reprinted below.
Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations 
Statement in Explanation of Position on the Resolution

“Assessment of the Status of Implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development”

47th session of the Commission on Population and Development
of the United Nations Economic and Social Council
New York, 12 April 2014
Mr. Chairman,
My delegation is convinced that only a truly human-centered approach to development can function as the authentic starting point for policy on population and development. Through its unparallelled global network of institutions, the Holy See unceasingly manifests its commitment to serving the poorest and most vulnerable populations in working to achieve their integral human development. This includes physical, social, and spiritual development – keeping the focus on those most essential factors for development, including: quality and affordable education and health care, access to food and nutrition, water and sanitation, the rights of migrants, as well as policies that support the family as the fundamental and most basic contributors of this development.
My delegation acknowledges with thanks your efforts and those of your bureau and the Secretariat for all the hard work during this Commission. The resolution just adopted contains many helpful contributions for advancing integral human development, and we are appreciative to you for including quite a number of our proposals. However, as already expressed on several occasions by many delegations, including my own, the balance of this resolution remains heavily skewed towards peculiar interests of certain developed countries, as evidenced by undue emphasis on selected rights over the real development priorities consistently elaborated by major regional groups, particularly those from developing regions.
I refer in particular to the heavy focus on sexual or reproductive mores. In this regard, the Holy See requests that its reservations on the following paragraphs be formally entered into the record of this meeting: PP16, OP9 and 9bis, OP10 and OP11.
With reference to “sexual and reproductive health”, so-called “reproductive rights,” “family planning” and other language on which the Holy See has registered reservations at Cairo, we reiterate these reservations as set out more fully in the Report of the ICPD. In particular, the ICPD rejects recourse to abortion for family planning, denies that it creates any new rights in this regard and recognizes that this is a matter subject to national legislation. Abortion is always gravely illicit and can never be called safe for the child who is killed or the mother who is brutalized. Yesterday Pope Francis publicly condemned yet again what he calls this “unspeakable crime” in the following terms: “[F]rom the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care.” “Therefore,” the Pope pleaded, “it is necessary to reaffirm our strongest opposition to any direct offence against life, especially ... the unborn child in its mother's womb.”
With respect to so-called “education” or “counselling” on “sexuality”, we reaffirm the “primary responsibility” and the “prior rights” of parents, including their right to religious freedom, when it comes to the education and upbringing of their children, as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which we are a State Party.
By “gender” my delegation understands to mean “male or female” only, and to have no meaning other than the customary and general usage of the term.
We also were disappointment by the methods of work that led to this resolution. What was promised to be a concise, procedural approach without renegotiation of the issues ballooned into a partisan substantive jamboree during a week in which very little time was set aside for actual multilateral negotiations. We regret that the series of general comments for which we were solicited never matured into a full and robust negotiation of a true compilation text. We share the concerns expressed by the distinguished delegate from Bangladesh and others regarding the transparency and inclusivity of this final session. As a final procedural irregularity, you have inexplicably preferred to give me the floor next to last, despite the fact that requested the floor in third place, if I am not mistaken (it might have been second place). This manner of proceeding should not serve as a precedent for future Commissions.
We ask that the text of this statement be included in the official records of this meeting.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Report on Pro-life interventions at the Commission on Population and Development New York No. 3

We report on an intervention made by Scott Fischbach of MCCL GO during the plenary session of the Commission on Population and Development at UN headquarters in New York and on Friday April 11th. The statement set out below, was one of a series of pro-life statements delivered at the

Mr. Chairman;

On behalf of the 200 chapters and 70,000 member families of MCCL and our Global Outreach program, I appreciate this opportunity to address this esteemed body today.

Twenty years after the adoption of the ICPD Programme of Action, maternal mortality and morbidity remain a very serious problem in large parts of the world. The World Health Organization estimates that 287,000 maternal deaths occurred in 2010 alone.

This problem is enormous, but we know how to solve it. We can save women's lives by improving maternal health care. This includes prenatal and antenatal care, skilled birth attendants, emergency obstetric care, basic sanitation and clean water. These measures helped lead to a dramatic reduction in maternal mortality in the developed world during the 20th century. They helped lead to a 47 percent decline in maternal deaths worldwide from 1990 to 2010, according to estimates by the World Health Organization. Now these measures must be extended to the places where basic health care is still lacking.

Some say that legalizing or expanding access to abortion is necessary to protect the lives and health of women. That is not true. A recent editorial in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization acknowledges, "Illegal abortion is not synonymous with unsafe abortion." The legality of abortion is distinct from its safety, and maternal health in general depends on the quality of maternal health care, not on the legal status or availability of abortion.

Countries such as Ireland, Chile and Malta prohibit most or all abortions and have a very low incidence of maternal mortality. Other countries permit abortion for any reason and have a very high incidence of maternal mortality. It is simply a matter of fact that legalizing abortion is not necessary to protect the lives and health of women.

Legalized abortion is often touted as beneficial to women, but a wealth of medical and psychological evidence suggests otherwise.  Legal, or illegal abortion poses both short-term and long-term risks to the physical health of women. It can also seriously affect their mental health.

Indeed, legalizing abortion does nothing to address the underlying issue of poor health care. Only by prioritizing improvements in maternal care and enabling healthy reproduction can we save lives and solve the problem of maternal mortality and morbidity.

We urge member states to make every effort to improve maternal health care in order to save women’s and babies lives.  Member states should reject all efforts to legalize or promote abortions and instead focus on maternal health care and healthy reproductive outcomes.    

Mr. Chairman, I thank you for this opportunity.

 Statement of Scott Fischbach MCCL GO

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Pope Francis says the right to life is the “first and most fundamental right”

Vatican Radio reports that Pope Francis on Friday reiterated human life is sacred and inviolable during a meeting with Italy’s Pro-Life Movement (Movimento per la Vita), adding every civil right is based on the “first and most fundamental right,” the right to life: which is not subordinate to any condition, neither qualitative, nor economic, much less ideological.
The Holy Father said one of the most serious risks of the present age is the divorce between economics and morality, so that as the market gives us every technical innovation, it neglects more and more elementary ethical standards.
“It is must be therefore reiterated the strongest opposition to any direct attack on life, especially innocent and defenseless life, and the unborn child in the womb is the most concrete example of innocence,” said Pope Francis. “Let us remember the words of the Second Vatican Council: From the moment of its conception, life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes.” ( Gaudium et Spes, 51).
Pope Francis said for a Christian, it is a part of the witness of the Gospel to protect life with courage and love in all its stages.
“I encourage you to always act with a style of nearness, of closeness: that every woman feels regarded as a person who is heard, accepted, and accompanied,” he said.
Pope Francis also showed gratitude for two specific activities of the Pro-Life Movement: The “Gemma Project”, which works with woman facing crisis pregnancies; and the “One of Us” Campaign, which is a European Union Citizens’ Initiative requesting the prohibition of EU financing of activities which involve the destruction of human embryos, especially in the areas of research, development cooperation and public health.

Pro-Life Interventions at the Commission on Population and Development 2.

Continuing the series of pro-life statements made during the plenary session of the Commission on Population and Development at UN headquarters in New York and on Friday April 11th  the statement set out below, was delivered by Wendy Wright on behalf of the Family Research Council (FRC), The American Association of Pro - Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) and the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-Fam.)
Statement by Family Research Council, C-FAM and the
American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Commission on Population and Development
47th Session
United Nations Headquarters, New York, 11 April 2014

Thank you chairperson for the opportunity to deliver this statement on behalf of Family Research Council, C-FAM and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.


Securing a better future for mothers needs to be the number one goal for the advancement of women in the post-2015 development agenda. Maternal health should remain a stand-alone goal in the post-2015 development agenda as it was in the MDG framework.

Now better than ever before, we know what it takes to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for mothers. It takes investment in education, skilled birth attendants, prenatal and antenatal care, clean water and sanitation, adequate nutrition and vitamins, antibiotics and other healing medicines, and emergency obstetric care.

There is no quick fix here. And, we cannot be deceived by those who say that changing abortion laws will improve maternal health.

Evidence shows that mortality from abortion, estimated at less than 15% of all causes of maternal death, decreases proportionately with all other causes of maternal death if the right improvements to maternal health care are made, regardless of the legal status of abortion. This means that complications from abortions, whether legal or not, can only be dealt with through adequate investments in maternal health care.[1]

Making abortion legal doesn’t improve maternal health in any way. It only makes it “safe” for the abortionist, it does not make it any safer to the mother and her unborn child. Ireland and Chile are world leaders in maternal health, with lower maternal mortality rates than the United States and other wealthy countries, despite having highly restrictive abortion laws.

Legalizing abortion actually endangers the lives of women by exposing them to health risks they would not encounter if they would carry their pregnancies to term.

Studies show that abortions often result in immediate complications like massive bleeding, infection and death, even in countries where elective abortion is legal. In the United States, abortions carried out after 5 months of pregnancy are more likely to result in the death of the mother than carrying a pregnancy to term.

Over 130 studies in the medical literature show that elective abortion results in an increased risk of preterm birth in subsequent pregnancies. And women who abort have a greater risk of depression and suicide as compared to women who give birth.

Maternal health care strives to make pregnancy safer for both mothers and their unborn children, Preventing births by aborting the unborn child, or preventing the human embryo from implanting in the mother’s womb does not improve the health of the mother or her unborn child.

In conclusion, we know what it takes to make pregnancy and childbirth safe. Maternal health care, must remain a distinct and urgent priority in the post-2015 development agenda. This cannot be confused with elective abortion, which destroys the life of innocent unborn children and places the lives of mothers in jeopardy.

Thank you Chairperson.

[1] Stefano Gennarini, J.D. and Rebecca Oas, Ph.D., Securing a Better Future for Mothers in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Evaluating the ICPD Operational Review, IORG Briefing Paper Number 11, March 28, 2014,

Pro-life interventions at the United Nations

The Commission on Population and Development continued apace at UN headquarters in New York and on Friday a number of pro-life speakers made statement during the plenary.
The statement set out below, was delivered by our colleague, Peter Smith of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. 
Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates, NGO colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.
I would like to talk about maternal mortality, which is a major area of interest for the ICPD.
A brief history will help us to understand this problem a little better. A miraculous decline in maternal mortality began in England after 1935. In 1945 the maternal mortality rate was half what it had been ten years earlier. By 1950, it was half what it had been in 1945.  This coincided with the introduction of Prontosil in 1936, the first successful drug to treat for bacterial infection. Soon after this sulphamide was introduced, later on penicillin was available. There was better treatment for high blood pressure, and haemorrhage post and ante partum.. There was also an improvement in nutrition during this period. This amazing reduction in maternal mortality was well before the introduction of modern contraceptives (1960) and legal abortion (1968 ). The decline in maternal mortality, in England, after 1970 was nowhere near as steep as from 1935 to 1950. This same pattern was followed by all the developed nations.
I am pleased to observe that the World health Organisation published a small paper on the definition of unsafe abortion in March 2014. They stated that “[…] illegal abortion is not synonymous with unsafe abortion”.  In the past the two terms were completely interchangeable.
Two countries with consistently the lowest maternal mortality in the world are Ireland and Malta, where abortion is currently illegal.
Since the Cairo conference I believe that too much money has been spent on contraception and the promotion of abortion.  It is scandalous that over 340,000 women die each year from pregnancy related causes. We have known how to remedy this situation in the developed world since the 1950’s. The answer is simple, better basic health care, better nutrition for mothers, emergency obstetric care , and skilled birth attendants.
Those promoting fertility decline and the legalisation of abortion should stop pretending that they are trying to reduce maternal mortality. We believe they just want to lower the number of births.

If, in the developing world there was, better basic health care we would have a safer outcome for mother and baby. Who knows what even the “least of these little ones“ may one day contribute to the betterment of the world.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Excellent statement by the Holy See at the UN Commission on Population and Development

The anti-life forces never seem to rest they are back in force at the UN in New York for the 47th Commission on Population and Development (CPD), promoting their never changing radical agenda of declaring abortion to be a human right, under the guise of ‘sexual and reproductive health rights’ and demanding comprehensive sexuality education for children. 

Fortunately there are some pro-life and pro-family member states and many similar NGO’s here to oppose the culture of death.
The following excellent statement was made by Statement by Msgr. Janusz Urbanczyk, Chargé d'Affaires a.i. Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations
Mr. Chairman,
My delegation takes this opportunity to express its best wishes to you and your Bureau for a productive session, and looks forward to working constructively with delegations as we assess the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development.
According to the report of the Secretary General, no fewer than 80 countries now register a fertility rate below replacement level.1 These statistics should be a great cause for alarm, as expressed in another report of the Secretary General:
Old-age support ratios, defined as the number of working-age adults per older person in the population, are already low in most countries of the more developed regions and are expected to continue to fall in the coming decades, ensuring continued fiscal pressure on support systems for older people.2
The unsustainable phenomenon of ageing populations can only be resolved by promoting family life and fertility. Support systems for the ageing can only be sustained by a larger, not smaller, next generation, either by paying into a social security system, or by providing intergenerational family support directly.
Mr. Chairman,
My delegation wishes to express grave concern over a very proscriptive approach taken in the zero draft of the outcome document, towards the implementation of the ICPD. This approach seems to treat fertility and pregnancy as a disease which must either be prevented or managed via government or outside assistance. While this may well reflect the concerns of certain highly developed countries, on a universal scale it certainly skews the population and development realities for the most part of the developing countries of the world, for whom other issues take greater priority. My delegation is of the view that a more sensible approach should focus less on reducing fertility and more on programs and values which support integral human development, namely: personal, social, and spiritual development. Access to education, economic opportunity, political stability, basic health care, and support for the family should serve as the key priorities for achieving such integral human development.
Mr. Chairman,
An issue of great international sensitivity is an insistent promotion of so-called sexual and reproductive “rights”, almost to the exclusion of any other issue. This reflects an improper overtaking of the ICPD Programme of Action by efforts to promote the legalization and/or liberalization of abortion laws, whether by Member States or some UN Agencies, who openly promote laws providing for legal abortion.3
However, the Programme of Action in no way promotes abortion, but expressly repudiates it as a mean of controlling families or the population. The ICPD denies that it creates any new rights in this regard. Such laws and policies remain the prerogative of individual Member States according to the Programme of Action. All States emphasized at Cairo that Governments should help women avoid recourse to abortion.
Pope Francis recently addressed this issue:
Among the vulnerable for whom the church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. ... [T]he church cannot be expected to change her position on this question... It is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life...4
Mr. Chairman,
The Holy See continues to serve at the front-line addressing greater global poverty, human rights and development. Through its presence and emphasis on providing quality and affordable education, health care, access to food and respect for all human rights, the Holy See demonstrates that care and compassion for the poor, rather than focusing on fertility reduction, serves as a model for a truly human-centered approach to development.5
Thank You Mr. Chairman 
1 2

E/CN.9/2014/5, para. 7 E/CN.9/2014/3, para. 42
3 legal abortion ...”,
See OHCRH and UNAIDS, International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, 2006 Consolidated Version, pg. 35:Laws should also be enacted to ensure women’s reproductive and sexual rights, ... including safe and
4 5
Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 213 & 214
See Pope Francis, Message to the World Council of Churches, 4 October 2013

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Family as a Driver of Social and Economic Development

We commented last week that it is very rare at UN meetings that one hears any positive statements about the family, which is more often than not painted as being one of the abusers of women and children.
We now report on a statement by the Institute of Family Policy (IFP) during the 47th session of the Commission on Population and Development at UN headquarters in New York.
This year we are celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the International Year of the Family. As UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in his 2011 landmark report asserted, “the majority of the Millennium Development targets, especially those relating to the reduction of poverty, education of children and reduction in maternal mortality, are difficult to attain unless the strategies to achieve them focus on the family.” (SG Family Report 2011 (A/66/62– E/2011/4).
No development effort can fully succeed unless the family is expressly placed at the center.
Throughout history governments have recognized the premiere status of the family. Indeed 110 countries have formally recognized its importance in their constitutions and commitments. Yet to date, these government commitments remain largely unfulfilled.
Experience shows that when families are respected and empowered, efforts to achieve development goals are much more likely to be successful. An example of this is the Family Preservation Program, a holistic approach to development that focuses primarily on working with families, targeting the poorest of communities in Africa with a high concentration of people living with HIV/AIDS, and which has already addressed 14,000 people. An independent evaluation of the program found that communities achieved unprecedented results after participating in this family-centered program in terms of child access to education, use of treated water, ownership of family businesses, health improvement or maternal death rate (not 1 in over 1,000 births).
The Family Impact Institute, a research organization based in the United States, has found that a family-centered approach that uses “a family lens” for developing and implementing policies yields much better results in many areas, including poverty reduction, health, and education.
Could it be that the global community has not been as successful as hoped for in eradicating poverty, preventing disease and death, and achieving the full and fair participation of women in society, because the most fundamental unit of society that empowers nations to achieve such goals has largely been ignored?
We support the statement recently presented by the Republic of Belarus and join their effort and that of so many other countries which share this same awareness, calling upon all UN Member States, UN Agencies, and civil society to put the family at the center of the post 2015 development agenda, and adopt a stand-alone goal to strengthen the role of the family as a driver of sustainable economic and social development.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Belarus call for a 'stand alone goal on the family', as one of the sustainable development goals

Discussions are underway at UN headquarters in New York on the formation of a new 15-year development agenda to be known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’S). The development of the future goals is being discussed by a number of different UN related bodies one of which the ‘Open Working Group’ is currently holding its tenth session.
It is very rare at UN meetings that one hears any positive statements about the family, which is more often that not painted as being one of the abusers of women and children, however in what has to be a ground breaking statement  Mr. Valentin RYBAKOV Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus called for a ‘stand alone goal’ on the family.
Mr. Valentin told the meeting; ‘We consider the family as a foundation for sustainability and prosperity, for tolerance and equality, especially equality between women and men, an important pillar naturally providing safety and freedom from violence.’

Valentin also posed the question, (H) how do we see the family issue in the future SDG context? – This is the question we all have to think about. A stand-alone goal on supporting family as a contributor to sustainable development could seem a rather bold option, but after all aren’t we trying to set an ambitious development framework for the sake of the current and future generations? If we talk about poverty eradication as a factor of the survival of humankind, we should also talk about the family as guarantor and centre of centuries-long social cohesion pattern inherent to all cultures and civilisations of the Earth.

The full Belarus statement is set out below 
Mr. Co-Chairman,
Without diminishing the importance of the areas under this cluster, let me start however with the issue not present here – the institution of the family and its contribution to sustainable development.
We consider the family as a foundation for sustainability and prosperity, for tolerance and equality, especially equality between women and men, an important pillar naturally providing safety and freedom from violence.
The notion of sustainable development is commonly characterised as inclusive and people-centred. It should benefit and involve all people, including youth and children. Human beings are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature. At the same time we have to recognise that current demographic, social and economic changes affect the institution of family. The international community has to undertake appropriate actions to meet the needs not only of individual members of the family but also of the family as social institution, contributing to overall development efforts, to advance the institution of the family and rebuild the family culture in society, as well as to promote the value of the family among youth. In this connection we should strongly highlight in the new SDG framework the role of the family as a natural and fundamental group unit of society in sustainable development of mankind. It needs no additional proof that the family as the basic social unit of reproduction, education and socialization of children, social coherence and integration plays an important role in achieving sustainable development including but not limited to contributing to eradicating poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases.
The SDG framework should be set in such a way as to recognize that the achievement of any development goals depends, to a significant extent, on how families are empowered to fulfil their important social functions and to benefit society at large. Future sustainable development goals should promote and enhance national family policy as well as keep the family focus within the UN system and other relevant international organizations. Without consistent efforts to sustain and uphold the institution of the family the global sustainable development will be put into question.
How do we see the family issue in the future SDG context? – This is the question we all have to think about. A stand-alone goal on supporting family as a contributor to sustainable development could seem a rather bold option, but after all aren’t we trying to set an ambitious development framework for the sake of the current and future generations? If we talk about poverty eradication as a factor of the survival of humankind, we should also talk about the family as guarantor and centre of centuries-long social cohesion pattern inherent to all cultures and civilisations of the Earth.
As for the other topics of this cluster, let me underline the equal significance of all of them when it comes to sustainable development.
For example, much remains to be done to make gender equality a constant and irreversible feature of our everyday life. We see gender equality as inseparable from the topic of family. One of the reasons behind the apparent family’s decline worldwide has been related to abuse of masculine power that resulted in domestic violence against women. If we succeed in redressing this grave challenge we will be able to lay ground for a more healthy and sustainable family, and thus, for better human life. It would be reasonable to elaborate stand-alone goal on gender equality and integrate it through targets and indicators into all goals of any new development framework.
At the same time Member States should build on the lessons from the elaboration and implementation of the MDGs as the new post-2015 development agenda is being shaped. All these lessons call for comprehensive approach to the issue of the family in the post-2015 development agenda by integrating this issue firmly in the future SDG framework as a cross-cutting theme and designing, implementing and monitoring at the national and international levels family oriented policies in the areas related to the future sustainable development goals.
As for education: we certainly share the view to have a stand-alone goal that would equally embrace access to and quality of education and would foster skills and talent among youth.
The area of employment has not been substantially addressed in the MDGs framework. As a result, there is a strong argument – which we support – in favor of having a stand-alone goal on employment with the breakdown into a number of specific targets, such as, creation of new jobs, setting higher youth employment objectives, providing equal employment opportunities for both men and women, ending working poverty etc. Of course, this is not the final list and it might be further developed and expanded.
Health, demographics and population dynamics are clearly interrelated and will have to be recognised as such through a separate sustainable development goal, to complete the unfinished business of the MDGs.
Thank you for your attention.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Language of Love

One of the most encouraging pastoral letters I have seen for some time was published on March 24th, the eve of the feast of the Annunciation, by Bishop James Conley of Lincoln Nebraska. The pastoral letter entitled the ‘Language of Love’ highlights the sacrificial nature of authentic love and the disruptive immorality of contraception.

Bishop Conley referred to the visit of Mother Teresa of Calcutta twenty years ago and reminded his congregation about some of the things she said;
“Love,” she told them, “has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them.  This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts.  Otherwise, there is no true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.”

Mother Teresa he says, ‘believed, as do I, that much of the world’s unhappiness and injustice begins with a disregard for the miracle of life created in the womb of mothers.  Today, our culture rejects love when it rejects the gift of new life, through the use of contraception’

Mother Teresa he continues said that, “in destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife…destroys the gift of love.”
Husbands and wives are made to freely offer themselves as gifts to one another in friendship, and to share in the life-giving love of God.
He created marriage to be unifying and procreative.  To join husband and wife inseparably in the mission of love, and to bring forth from that love something new. 

The full text of letter is included below and can also be read in full on thislink.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Twenty years ago, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta stood before the President of the United States, before senators and congressmen, before justices of the United States Supreme Court.  She spoke about her work among the world’s poor.  She spoke about justice and compassion.  Most importantly, she spoke about love.

“Love,” she told them, “has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them.  This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts.  Otherwise, there is no true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.”[1]

Sacrifice is the language of love.  Love is spoken in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who poured out his life for us on the cross. Love is spoken in the sacrifice of the Christian life, sharing in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.  And love is spoken in the sacrifice of parents, and pastors, and friends.

We live in a world short on love.  Today, love is too often understood as romantic sentimentality rather than unbreakable commitment. But sentimentality is unsatisfying.  Material things, and comfort, and pleasure bring only fleeting happiness.  The truth is that we are all searching for real love, because we are all searching for meaning.

Love—real love—is about sacrifice, and redemption, and hope.  Real love is at the heart of a rich, full life.  We are made for real love.  And all that we do—in our lives, our careers, and our families, especially—should be rooted in our capacity for real, difficult, unfailing love.

But today, in a world short on love, we’re left without peace, and without joy.

In my priesthood, I have stood in front of abortion clinics to offer help to women experiencing unwanted pregnancies; I have prayed with the neglected elderly; and I have buried young victims of violence.  I have seen the isolation, the injustice, and the sadness that comes from a world short on love.  Mother Teresa believed, as do I, that much of the world’s unhappiness and injustice begins with a disregard for the miracle of life created in the womb of mothers.  Today, our culture rejects love when it rejects the gift of new life, through the use of contraception

Mother Teresa said that, “in destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife…destroys the gift of love.”

Husbands and wives are made to freely offer themselves as gifts to one another in friendship, and to share in the life-giving love of God.

He created marriage to be unifying and procreative.  To join husband and wife inseparably in the mission of love, and to bring forth from that love something new.

Contraception robs the freedom for those possibilities.

God made us to love and to be loved.  He made us to delight in the power of sexual love to bring forth new human beings, children of God, created with immortal souls.  Our Church has always taught that rejecting the gift of children erodes the love between husband and wife: it distorts the unitive and procreative nature of marriage.  The use of contraception gravely and seriously disrupts the sacrificial, holy, and loving meaning of marriage itself.

The Church continues to call Catholic couples to unity and procreativity. Marriage is a call to greatness—to loving as God loves—freely, creatively, and generously.  God himself is a community of love—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Christian marriage is an invitation to imitate, and to know, and to share in the joyful freedom of God’s love, an echo of the Holy Trinity.

In 1991, my predecessor, Bishop Glennon P. Flavin, wrote that “there can be no true happiness in your lives unless God is very much a part of your marriage covenant.  To expect to find happiness in sin is to look for good in evil…. To keep God in your married life, to trust in his wisdom and love, and to obey his laws…will deepen your love for each other and will bring to you that inner peace of mind and heart which is the reward of a good conscience.”[2]

God is present in every marriage, and present during every marital embrace.  He created sexuality so that males and females could mirror the Trinity: forming, in their sexual union, the life-long bonds of family.  God chose to make spouses cooperators with him in creating new human lives, destined for eternity.  Those who use contraception diminish their power to unite and they give up the opportunity to cooperate with God in the creation of life.

As Bishop of Lincoln, I repeat the words of Bishop Flavin.  Dear married men and women: I exhort you to reject the use of contraception in your marriage.  I challenge you to be open to God’s loving plan for your life.  I invite you to share in the gift of God’s life-giving love.  I fervently believe that in God’s plan, you will rediscover real love for your spouse, your children, for God, and for the Church.  I know that in this openness to life, you will find the rich adventure for which you were made.

Our culture often teaches us that children are more a burden than a gift—that families impede our freedom and diminish our finances.  We live in a world where large families are the objects of spectacle and derision, instead of the ordinary consequence of a loving marriage entrusted to God’s providence.  But children should not be feared as a threat or a burden, but rather seen as a sign of hope for the future.

In 1995, Blessed John Paul II wrote that our culture suffers from a “hedonistic mentality unwilling to accept responsibility in matters of sexuality, and… a self-centered concept of freedom, which regards procreation as an obstacle to personal fulfilment. ”[3]  Generous, life-giving spousal love is the antitode to hedonism and immaturity: parents gladly give up frivolous pursuits and selfishness for the intensely more meaningful work of loving and educating their children.

In the Diocese of Lincoln, I am grateful for the example of hundreds of families who have opened themselves freely and generously to children.  Some have been given large families, and some have not.  And of course, a few suffer the very difficult, hidden cross of infertility or low fertility.  The mystery of God’s plan for our lives is incomprehensible.  But the joy of these families, whether or not they bear many children, disproves the claims of the contraceptive mentality.

Dear brothers and sisters, Blessed John Paul II reminded us that, “man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God.”[4] The sexual intimacy of marriage, the most intimate kind of human friendship, is a pathway to sharing in God’s own life.  It is a pathway to the fullness of our own human life; it is a means of participating in the incredible love of God.  Contraception impedes our share in God’s creative love.  And thus it impedes our joy.

The joy of families living in accord with God’s plan animates and enriches our community with a spirit of vitality and enthusiasm.  The example of your friends and neighbors demonstrates that while children require sacrifice, they are also the source of joy, meaning, and of peace.  Who does not understand the great gift of a loving family?

Yes, being lovingly open to children requires sacrifice. But sacrifice is the harbinger of true joy.  Dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to be open to joy.


Of course, there are some true and legitimate reasons why, at certain times, families may discern being called to the sacrifice of delaying children. For families with serious mental, physical, or emotional health problems, or who are experiencing dire financial troubles, bearing children might best be delayed.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that couples must have “just” reasons to delay childbearing. For couples facing difficulties of various kinds, the Church recommends Natural Family Planning: a method for making choices about engaging in fruitful sexual relations.

Natural Family Planning does not destroy the power to give life: instead, it challenges couples to discern prayerfully when to engage in life-giving sexual acts. It is an integrated, organic and holistic approach to fertility care.

Natural Family Planning is a reliable and trustworthy way to regulate fertility, is easy to learn, and can be a source of unity for couples.  To be sure, using NFP requires sacrifice and patience, but sacrifice and patience are not obstacles to love, they are a part of love itself.  Used correctly, NFP forms gentle, generous husbands, and selfless, patient wives.  It can become a school of virtuous and holy love.

Those who confine sexual intimacy to the infertile times of the month are not engaging in contraceptive practices.  They do not attempt to make a potentially fertile act infertile.  They sacrificially abstain during the fertile time precisely because they respect fertility; they do not want to violate it; they do not want to treat the gift of fertility as a burden.

In some relatively rare instances, Natural Family Planning is used by couples with a contraceptive mentality.  Too often couples can choose to abstain from fertility by default, or out of fear of the consequences of new life.  I encourage all couples who use Natural Family Planning to be very open with each other concerning the reasons they think it right to limit their family size, to take their thoughts to God, and to pray for his guidance. Do we let fear, anxiety, or worry determine the size of our families? Do we entrust ourselves to the Lord, whose generosity provides for all of our needs?

“Perfect love,” scripture teaches, “casts out fear.”[5]

Dear friends, I exhort you to openness in married life.  I exhort you to trust in God’s abundant providence.

I would like to address in a special way Catholic physicians, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals.  The noble aim of your profession is to aid men and women as they live according to God’s perfect plan. Bishop Flavin wrote that, as professionals, “you are in a position to be God’s instruments in manifesting his truth, and his love.”[6]

No Catholic healthcare provider, in good conscience, should engage in the practice of medicine by undermining the gift of fertility.  There is no legitimate medical reason to aid in the acts of contraception or sterilization.  No Catholic physician can honestly argue otherwise.

Healthcare is the art of healing.  Contraception and sterilization may never be considered healthcare.  Contraception and sterilization denigrate and degrade the body’s very purpose.  Fertility is an ordinary function of health and human flourishing; and an extraordinary participation in God’s creative love.  Contraception and sterilization stifle the natural and the supernatural processes of marriage, and cause grave harm.  They treat fertility as though it were a terrible inconvenience, or even a physical defect that needs to be treated.

Contraception attempts to prevent life from the beginning, and when that fails, some contraception destroys newly created life.  Many contraceptives work by preventing the implantation of an embryonic human being in the uterus of his or her mother.

Contraception is generally regarded by the medical community as the ordinary standard of care for women. The Church’s teachings are often regarded as being opposed to the health and well-being of women.  But apart from the moral and spiritual dangers of contraception, there are also grave physical risks to the use of most chemical contraceptives.  Current medical literature overwhelmingly confirms that contraception puts women at risk for serious health problems, which doctors should consider very carefully.

Some women have health conditions that are better endured when treated by hormonal contraceptives.  But the effects of contraception often mask the underlying conditions that endanger women’s health.  Today, there are safe, natural means of correcting hormonal imbalances, and solving the conditions that are often treated by contraception.

Contraception is an unhealthy standard of care.  All doctors can do better.

Catholic physicians are called to help their patients and their colleagues learn the truth about the dangers of contraception and sterilization.  The good example of a physician who refuses to prescribe contraceptives and perform sterilizations or a pharmacist who refuses to distribute contraceptives in spite of antagonism, financial loss, or professional pressure is an opportunity to participate in the suffering of Jesus Christ.  I am grateful for the Catholic physicians and pharmacists who evangelize their patients and colleagues through a commitment to the truth.

Tragically, a majority of people in our culture and even in our Church, have used contraception.  Much of the responsibility for that lies in the fact that too few have ever been exposed to clear and consistent teaching on the subject.  But the natural consequences of our culture’s contraceptive mentality are clear.  Mother Teresa reflected that “once living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily.”[7]  She was right.  Cultural attitudes that reject the gift of life lead very easily to social acceptance for abortion, for no-fault divorce, and for fatherless families.  For fifty years, America has accepted the use of contraception, and the consequences have been dire.

Dear brothers and sisters, I encourage you to read the encyclical by Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae with your spouse, or in your parish.  Consider also Married Love and the Gift of Life, written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Dear brother priests, I encourage you to preach about the dangers of contraception, and to visit with families in your parish about this issue.

Dear brothers and sisters, if you have used or prescribed contraception, the merciful love of God awaits.  Healing is possible—in the sacrament of penance.  If you have used or supported contraception, I pray that you will stop, and that you will avail yourself of God’s tender mercy by making a good heartfelt confession.

Today, openness to children is rarely celebrated, rarely understood, and rarely supported.  To many, the Church’s teachings on life seem oppressive or old-fashioned.  Many believe that the Church asks too great a sacrifice.

But sacrifice is the language of love.  And in sacrifice, we speak the language of God himself.  I am calling you, dear brothers and sisters, to encounter Christ in your love for one another.  I am calling you to rich and abundant family life.  I am calling you to rejoice in the love, and the sacrifice, for which you were made.  I am calling your family to share in the creative, active love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I pray that in true sacrifice, each of you will know perfect joy.

Through the intercession of Our Lady of the Annunciation, the Holy Family, and in the love of Jesus Christ,

+James D. Conley

Bishop of Lincoln

March 25, 2014

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

[1] Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.  National Prayer Breakfast, 1994.

[2] Glennon P. Flavin, Pastoral Letter to Catholic Couples and Physicians.  September 26, 1991

[3] Blessed John Paul II.  Evangelium Vitae, 13.

[4] Ibid. 2.

[5] I John 4:18

[6] Bishop Flavin.

[7] Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.  National Prayer Breakfast, 1994.