Following my post on Progressio, a Catholic aid agency, one of my readers pointed out that Progressio’s partner in El Salvador, Las Dignas, is one of a number of organizations to put its name to a document entitled Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Central America. The document takes a somewhat surprising position on the Church’s teachings. (I find I get "You are not authorised to link to this page" message but I have the document for anyone interested and you can find it by googling '"Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Central America" Las Dignas')
Its ‘agenda for action’ includes:
“Defence of the Secular State. By persuading the region's governments to stop following the dictates of the most conservative sectors of the [Catholic] church, one of the principal obstacles to more progressive laws and policies would be removed.”
“Abortion. The right of each woman to take decisions about her own body should be a fundamental aspect of advocacy on this issue, in addition to arguments for decriminalisation based on public health and social justice. This includes the possibility of seeking that, in the first place, therapeutic abortion be decriminalised in those places where it is prohibited and that women are guaranteed access to this procedure where it is still legal.”
The document goes on to present a caricature of the Catholic Church’s teachings on human sexuality: “The churches, especially the Catholic Church, teach that sexuality is something bad, that it should only be exercised in limited circumstances, and that it must be related to reproduction…Women are taught to equate the exercise of sexuality with love and with reproduction, and even to believe that 'sexuality is something dirty and impure, only allowed for men, not for we women who should be clean and pure'. Women, but not men are obliged to accept a formula in which love = sexuality = reproduction = the maximum expression of love. Pleasure has no place in this equation.”
A little further on it states: “It should be emphasised that the church's opposition to abortion is not only due to its much trumpeted position that life begins with conception but also derives from its vision of motherhood as the destiny of all women."
Well, yes, the Church does teach that sexual activity should be loving and open to life. How Las Dignas works out that this renders it ‘something bad’ that should not involve pleasure is rather puzzling. It goes on: “sexual health includes 'the absence of feelings of shame and guilt, of unfounded beliefs and of other psychological factors which inhibit sexual activity or disrupt sexual relations'.” Furthermore, “to enjoy this right, women require information and access to high quality, dignified and efficient medical attention so as to be able to enjoy maternity without risks or to terminate an unwanted pregnancy safely, as well as for the prevention and treatment of infertility.”
The Catholic Church emerges as the enemy in a later discussion of the Millennium Development Goals: “Turning to the effects of religious fundamentalists and conservatives, their influence in international political forums has significantly increased. An important example of their success is how pressure from the Vatican and a small number of conservative governments led to the elimination from the Millennium Development Goals of a goal that would have established that 'all people of appropriate age should have access to reproductive health services by the year 2015 at the latest' even though it was supported by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and had been adopted in 1996 by the 21 governments that participate in the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)." "Reproductive health services" is a term used by UN bodies such as the UNFPA and CEDAW to promote legal access to abortion on demand – and to put pressure on developing countries worldwide to legalise abortion.
It is not just the Catholic Church that is attacked for being pro-life. The document warns: “It should also be noted that the differences between evangelicals and the Catholic Church on these issues are more a question of form than substance. Evangelicals are also very conservative and equally opposed to the decriminalisation of abortion and the recognition of diversity in sexual orientation.”
I repeat what I said in my post last Saturday, how can Progressio canvass for support within the Catholic Church? Indeed why should it continue to be listed as a Catholic organization in the Catholic directory? This scandal must be addressed.