Catholicism, UN Style

A web of wires connected microphones, earphones, and lights behind the nameplates of the world’s leading foundations: Turner, Hewlett, MacArthur, Rockefeller, Gates. The main committee meeting of the United Nations’s Hague Forum featured an amphitheater of desks manned—often womanned—by delegates of 177 nations and of the rich and famous who bankroll population control worldwide. This cabal of international policy tinkerers and philanthropists would map out the course of United Nations population control programs into the next century.

The Hague Forum was a preliminary conference leading to ICPD+5, the five-year assessment of the world’s progress in implementing the Programme of Action (POA) adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) at Cairo, Egypt, in 1994. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Netherlands hosted the forum last February, courtesy of a massive grant from foundations started by multimillionaires Bill Gates and Ted Turner.

Population management, under guises ranging from eugenics to sustainable development, long ago set the UN on a collision course with the Catholic Church in matters of sexual morality and the primacy of the family as the first unit of society, but a new danger loomed in The Hague as several countries discovered that, beyond religious and moral beliefs, the very concept of national sovereignty was called into question.

Just beneath the surface of appeals to high-minded principles and human-rights-based language lay the dangers. Two fora that preceded the main forum the Youth Forum and the NGO Forum—each produced a draft document that was presented at the main conference. The gatherings turned surreal as it became clear that they were mere pep rallies for a specific agenda and were prearranged to codify into international law a global “consensus” regarding universal rights to abortion, contraception, gender equity, homosexual rights, and even rights to sexual pleasure. Screened applications ensured that few pro-life teens or nongovernmental organizations (NGO) participated.

Cold War on the Family

Youth, ages 14 to 29, were chosen from among those already involved in their countries with sex and population issues, typically under the auspices of a Planned Parenthood International Federation affiliate. The concern of this set is that one billion youth are entering their reproductive years. The Youth Forum was stage managed at every step, resulting in an attitude of detachment from the ideal of family. An advisory committee of eleven young adults led by Rachel Russell, a Gen-X employee of Planned Parenthood, was trained by UNFPA officials. These eleven then guided the working group discussions, all moderated by UNFPA officials. In this manner, the 132 participants representing the “youth of the world” produced a document demanding legal access to abortion and “freedom of sexual expres¬sion and orientation.”

A slick public relations packet, called The Word and produced by New Zealand’s Planned Parenthood affiliate, depicted graphic illustrations, listed both clinical and crude definitions of sexual practices, and promoted homosexuality: “It doesn’t matter who you are attracted to … lots of different people are gay, lesbian, and bisexual—all of them are happy, strong, on-to-it people who have the right to love.”

As the Youth Forum came to a close, a pretty Dutch 16-year-old, clad in the signature UN sweatshirt and passing out The Word, was asked, “What did the Youth Forum mean to you?” She responded, “I won’t need the permission of my parents when I need reproductive health information or want to be free to enjoy my own sexuality. It will just be my right that no one can take from me.” Her brilliant smile was confident. No eerie foreboding troubled this young world citizen.

During The Hague Forum that followed, the Vatican and pro-life NGOs warned that enforcement of such “rights” would be an end-run around parental rights and national sovereignty: Who will enforce a universal “right” to orientation, abortion, and “sexual pleasure”? Who will enforce “gender facilitators” in schools worldwide?

The Hague Forum organizers repeatedly stressed that the goal was not to renegotiate Cairo but to assess the progress of governments toward implementation. Yet Catholic and other pro-life NGOs detected familiar signs in forum procedures and materials: The goal was to achieve by stealth what was not achieved at Cairo: Insert culture of death “rights” into official documents representing globally recognized conventions.

The Cairo Conference of September 1994 stalled when Islamic, Central African, Latin American, and Vatican delegates objected to language that imperiled religious practice. Their interventions preserved national sovereignty which was at risk in the implementation procedures of the proposed document, the “Programme of Action” (POA). To avoid a stalemate and conclude the conference, a compromise chapter was added that made mandatory this provision: “The implementation of the recommendations contained in the Programme of Action is the sovereign right of each country, consistent with the national laws and development priorities, with full respect for the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people, and in conformity with universally recognized human rights.” Yet, that chapter provision—known as the Cairo Chapeau—was buried at The Hague Forum beneath a glitteringly redefined millennial population agenda.

Forum organizers attempted to inject rights-based language into The Hague draft document, thus distracting participants with polished presentations and an orchestrated “consensus” of concern for “human rights.” The prod was the looming terror of humanity, a global crush of bodies; young bodies—one billion strong entering their reproductive years, bodies with AIDS, bodies having babies, bodies demanding “sexual rights,” bodies in need of abortion, bodies endangering “sustainable development,” and bodies migrating from the south to the north. Obscured in the rhetoric was a new slant on POA language: “Women’s rights are human rights.”

Innocuous as that slogan appears, it was crafted to slide undetected into the already ratified Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Hague draft reads:

The ICPD and the subsequent Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing) have enhanced national attention and debate on the centrality of gender equity, equality, and the empowerment of women in sustainable development. Governments have made important strides toward implementing international conventions; … many countries have enacted gender action plans aimed at promoting and protecting the rights of women as fundamental rights … [and at promoting] the primacy of gender issues. The heightened public awareness of women’s rights issues is increasing pressure to convert policy statements and legislation into effective action.

The phrases “international conventions” and “rights of women as fundamental rights” provide a means to a hidden end.

If women’s rights are redefined to include “reproductive health and rights” (a euphemism that encompasses abortion), and if “gender equity” can be pushed into the category of universal human rights, then nations failing to provide women and young girls with ready access to abortion, contraception, sex education, and political processes will risk being in violation of the UN’s human rights declaration. In the event that this “soft war” tactic succeeds, the question looms: Who will enforce access to abortion and equal social and political rights to homosexuality in those nations, principally Catholic and Islamic, where abortion and homosexuality are grave evils?

For many nations, such so-called violations of rights would sever economic aid, as such funding is often tied to compliance with human rights “norms.” A World Bank representative boasted during a press briefing that “reproductive health” was an issue the bank addressed when development loans were negotiated. Developing nations in need of critical infrastructure—dams, roads, schools, and telecommunications—are pressured to comply with globalist directives, regardless of culture or national sovereignty.

Paragraph 12 of The Hague Draft Report steam-rolled over Cairo: “In the past five years there has been a growing acceptance of a human-rights-based perspective.” In point of fact, the rights-based approach to abortion and gender equity was not accepted at Cairo. Abortion was explicitly rejected—twice—as a method of family planning. Most critically, Cairo’s Principle One is “the right to life.” Msgr. Frank Dewane of the Vatican delegation pointed out, “If you look at the Cairo documents, this affirmation is nowhere to be found. And yet, here at The Hague, this claim is made again and again as though it is an agreed fact.” Further he noted in regard to parental rights, “At Cairo, there was clear reference to the “rights and responsibilities of the parents.” But at The Hague all reference to parents has disappeared, and there is no talk of family.”

Fronting for Abortion

Repressive tactics against nations—whose religious traditions are to be respected according to the formula given at the Cairo Conference—are part of the global muscle brought to bear against the principles of parental rights and national sovereignty. Without national governments mediating between citizens and a world body, individual religious freedom and parental rights are denuded of any protection. In such situations, the lone mediator of international weight is the Catholic Church.

That truth was evident from the frank identification by UNFPA functionaries of the Church as an “obstacle” to the POA. A UNFPA press release following the forum is a masterpiece of euphemistic deceit, promoting homosexual unions as “voluntary choice in marriage, family forms.” “There is more than one form of family,” insisted an agent in the UNFPA press office, “other than the Holy See’s narrow definition.” This comment refers to the statement of Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls at the United Nations conference, 1996 Habitat II, held in Istanbul, Turkey. Navarro-Valls was critical of the same terminology, “various forms of the family,” being substituted for “family” in a clear break with The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the traditional definition of the term “family” (see Article 16: “Men and women of full age … have the right to marry and to found a family.”)

During a media seminar, veiled references to the Church’s teachings were employed to scorn Catholicism. Obstetrician Dr. Mahmoud Fathalla of the Rockefeller Foundation made an awkward attempt at levity, sketching a stick figure with the uterus marked out as belonging to “moralists” who will decide how the organ is best utilized. “Women are more than walking wombs,” he laughed. Fellow panelist, Dr. Fred Sai of Ghana, president emeritus of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, claimed that by withholding money from UNFPA programs, “the United States Congress is sending a bad signal” that has both a psychological and fiscal impact. Further, he remarked, “some countries are too beholden to the Vatican,” which teaches that birth control pills are abortifacients. Sai, now serving as an advisor to the World Bank on population issues, identified Eastern Europe and parts of Africa as showing “signs of despondency” because their bishops do not sanction “reproductive health and rights.”

It comes as no surprise that the Vatican was the target of a muted rancor. “I question the right of the Vatican even to be here for this conference,” said a Peruvian delegate, a former nun. The former Sister Juana was one of more than 800 nongovernmental organization (NGO) representatives who participated in the NGO Forum. Whisperings followed the entrance of the Holy See delegates into conference rooms and daily newspapers carried columns and cartoons critical of Catholicism. The Earth Times, published courtesy of the New York Times, opined, “The opponents of abortion like Pope John Paul II are supposed to be champions of the poor… Confronting them is a matter of rallying a global consensus that fundamentalism is an illegitimate authority and an affront to divine will.” The daily conference paper, ICPD+5 Watch ran an editorial headlined “Sex and the Holy See.” It complained, “As in Cairo, at the Hague Forum the Holy See continues to say that in matters of sexuality and reproduction, rights of the parents are supreme and the state should encourage this and not override it.” The editorial, however, prefers the government to parents in matters of sex education: “… evidence suggests parents may have rights but have trouble carrying out their responsibilities in sexual matters with their children. Who then should take care of this?” ICPD+5 Watch mused, “We look forward to the day the Holy See comes into the 20th century”

That sentiment was echoed by Frances Kissling, director of the dissident organization, Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC). “We have a pope who is a great thinker—for the fifth century,” she deadpanned. CFFC advocates contraception and abortion, as well as “women’s empowerment,” making them the Catholics of choice for UNFPA ideologues.

Kissling made every effort to supplant the Holy Father as the voice of Catholic authority, going even so far as to crib from the title of his newest encyclical. Her presentation, “Faith and Reason: Engaging the World’s Religions in Fulfilling the Cairo Promise,” was a blueprint of UNFPA machinations to corrupt religious practice in the service of their Programme of Action. She held a second workshop dubbed “Catholic Voices at One with Cairo,” which added token male voices who were sure to toe the line.

Despite Vatican objections regarding the use of “Catholic” by a group intolerant of Catholic teaching, CFFC was awarded UN NGO status in May 1998, paving the way for further “religious” radicalization of UN antifamily agendas.

A Propaganda Event

As the proceedings drew to a close many delegates grew frustrated. Heroic attempts had been made by pro-life  advocates from many Catholic, Evangelical, Mormon, and Muslim delegates. Statistics were distributed that showed the UNFPA obsession with contraception and abortion in third-world nations; other statistics from the UN’s own World Heath Organization (WHO) show that 81 percent of Haitian women have access to contraception but only 28 percent have access to safe water. An Ecuadoran delegate reported: “They teach about ‘maternal health’ but they do not care if mothers die of cholera. In my country you can go into a village and find condoms at the clinic but you cannot find soap.”

“This conference is a put-up job,” observed Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. Even European journalists grumbled. “I wish the Vatican delegates would make a scene. There is a dull sameness about each day. We need something to make editors sit up,” one journalist said.

However, pro-family delegates quickly realized that efforts should be saved for the full-blown conference to be held in New York. The ICPD+5 Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly is slated for June, and we can be sure someone will be making a scene there.


Mary Jo Anderson is a Catholic journalist and public speaker. She is a board member of Women for Faith and Family and has served on the Legatus Board of Directors. With co-author Robin Bernhoft, she wrote Male and Female He Made Them: Questions and Answers about Marriage and Same-Sex Unions (Catholic Answers Press, 2005).

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