Does the United Nations pose a threat to Poland's sovereignty?

Wlodzimierz Redzioch is interviewing Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino

Archbishop Renato Raffaele Martino

In September 1994, ten years ago, in Cairo, Egypt's capital, the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development was held. Some countries of the rich North treated it as an occasion to force on the Third World countries the unethical politics of birth control, which reflected the prevailing Western ideology of individualism and hedonism. This attempt failed because of the firm attitude of some countries and the delegation of the Holy See. Numerous amendments were introduced into the draft of the scandalous Programme of Action and as result the Programme included such statements as 'the family is the basic unit of society and as such is entitled to receive comprehensive protection and support' and 'In no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning'.
The delegation of the Holy See consisted of Archbishop Renato Raffaele Martino, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN in New York (at present Cardinal and President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace) and Fr Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., secretary of the Pontifical Council of Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples (today the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the EU and its agencies in Geneva). Wlodzimierz Redzioch asked them to reflect on the Cairo Conference. Below we publish the first interview with Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino. In one of our next issues we will publish the second interview.

Wlodzimierz Redzioch: - The United Nations International Conference on Population and Development was held in Cairo ten years ago. How can you evaluate this Conference from the perspective of a decade?

Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino: - The most important fact was that the Holy See and 40 countries prevented the regulation of 'the right' to abortion on demand from being introduced into the international document. It is worth mentioning that the contemporary chief of the US administration Bill Clinton, represented by Vice-President Al Gore, was striving to include this point very much. Finally, we won and the adopted Programme of Action of the Conference (Article 8.25) explicitly states that 'in no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning'.

- However, it seems that the introduction of this regulation has not definitely solved and concluded this issue...

- Unfortunately. At every UN international conference, even at the last one, which was held in Johannesburg in 2002, the same influential groups still try to return, although in a different way, to the issue of abortion. This was the case during the Conference, which aimed at creating the International Criminal Court. Then there was an attempt to declare the so-called 'forced pregnancy' a crime against humanity. If such a general formulation had been accepted, the spouse's objection to terminate a pregnancy could have been a punishable act - crime against humanity. However, after a hard struggle two principles were accepted: first of all 'forced pregnancy' was defined as the unlawful confinement of a woman forcibly made pregnant, with the intent of affecting the ethnic composition of any population. Secondly, such cases have nothing in common with the law regulating abortion. The result is that the principles of the above-mentioned Article 8.25 remain legally valid.

- But the UN agencies do their best to evade the law and promote an abortion without limits and which is worst; they do it using the funds set up for poor countries!

- Unfortunately, it is true. However, in such a case the governments of the UN member countries should be called to account. One cannot give money to the UN agencies and then does not follow how the money has been used. The governments must control what their citizens' money is spent for. They should also reveal cases of violating Article 8.25, according to which no UN agency has the right to promote abortion. It is not by accident that the Holy See has not donated its annual pledge to the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund for several years because of UNICEF activity beyond its institutional objectives. One should repeatedly remind people that UN agencies have only executive authority and cannot go beyond their power to act on the strength of the documents, which were signed by the governments of the countries.

- The voice of John Paul II and of the Church disturbs many political and ideological powers. Is this the reason why the Church has to face strong opposition and the Pope's voice is suppressed?

- I regret to say that in the contemporary world - especially in the rich countries of the West - the voice of the Pope and the Church is not heard or it is purposely drowned out by the noise and tumult of the strong cultural, economic and political lobbies, which are driven mainly by prejudice against everything what is Christian. Suffice it to say that these influential groups mock marriage, understood as a relationship between a woman and a man, 'attack' human life, which becomes a subject of risky experiments, and insistently promote gender ideology.* It is first of all the Catholic Church and Christians who are in the dock of this contemporary inquisition - arrogant and having large amounts of money. Every method is good to silence 'the accused': intimidation and public contempt, cultural discrimination and marginalization. Nonetheless, the Church, strong with the power of the Lord and rich in the experiences of 2000 years, will continue to proclaim the Good News of salvation and the truth about the human being, is spite of all kinds of relativism and ways to obscure the truth by post modernistic ideologies (illuminism).
One should always have in mind the fact that according to the teaching of the Church the source of law that man should be driven by cannot be any subjective opinion of an individual or some group, which the secular culture claims. The source of law is the objective truth: the immutable dignity of the human person.

- When we speak about 'silencing' the voice of the Church and Catholics, we should mention the way part of the European Parliament treated Prof. Rocco Buttiglioni, candidate for the office of the EU Commissioner. Is this what happened in Strasburg a part of the campaign to 'silence' Catholics?

- The Church is concerned with what happened in the European Parliament. However, there are many other Catholics in the Parliament as well as Christians and believers of other denominations. That's why I am curious to know what their stands are.
As for me, I have got the UN experiences and would like to remind you that in the UN one of the non-governmental organizations (NGO) organised a campaign against the presence of the Holy See at the United Nations. They did it because the Holy See always defended life and opposed abortion. Fortunately, no UN member country supported the campaign.

- As for the United Nations. More and more countries demand a reorganization of the UN. Is it necessary?

- In my opinion a reform of the UN is necessary. The UN's Security Council is almost the same (in the 1960s it was only slightly modified) as in 1945 when the organisation was created and when there were much fewer member countries than today (191). However, the Holy See is not to discuss the details of this reform; it is the UN member states that are to study problems and introduce changes so that the organisation will be able to face the challenges of our times.

- On 4 November 2004 the UN Human Rights Committee recommended that Poland should change its abortion law. How do you evaluate this UN's move?

- At first I would like to ask who has authorised the UN to decide what is good and what is evil? I am astonished how the HRC members dared to issue such a pronouncement and make remarks concerning the actions of its member state if these actions are not against human being's rights.
There is no right to abortion! I would like to quote Article 8.25 of the Programme of Action of the Cairo Conference: 'In no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning'. In the next lines it is written that 'any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process'. It is, therefore, obvious that the Committee has no right to criticise limited access to abortion in Poland or in any other country.
I am also concerned about other remarks of the Committee about discrimination because of 'sexual orientation' and the use of the term 'sexual minorities' (I have never heard it before although I suppose that it concerns 'sexual orientation'). The UN has never issued any document, which would be commonly recognised and would protect against such discrimination. The Human Rights Declaration summons to recognise human dignity and right to life (Articles 1 and 3). The recognition of human dignity, which unites all people, should be the basis for non-discrimination of other human beings. Unfortunately, many member states and UN agencies too often refuse to recognise human dignity as God's gift since human dignity is in fact God's gift. If all people followed fundamental rules of the Human Rights Declaration, which should be the basis for the UN's activities, there would be no need to discuss about breaking of human rights and discrimination.
It is interesting that the Human Rights Committee uses so much energy to criticise the government for the issue concerning the human life protection and protection of motherhood and family whereas in today's world we commonly witness human rights abuses. Perhaps the Committee should deal much more vigorously with such matters as the crisis in Darfur where human rights are actually violated or with cases of religious intolerance in so many countries of the world.

- 10,000 Sudanese, who are dying each month in Darfur because of hunger or emaciation, cannot make any impression on some UN officials; only the 'right' to abortion is taken into account!
Therefore, it would be interesting to know who prepared this report concerning Poland and who wanted it appear just now when there is a discussion about the law on Planned Parenthood in our country... Thank you for the conversation.

(*) Gender ideology rejects the existence of only the two genetically determined sexes, male and female, stating that the consciousness of your own 'psychosexual personality' is socially and culturally constructed, which means it is changeable.

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