Saturday 8 October 2011

My speech to the Dialogue of Civilizations conference in Rhodes

This week I am attending the Rhodes Forum, where I have been invited to address the ninth annual session of the Rhodes Forum: "Dialogue of Civilizations". Below is the full text of my address at the roundtable on population and the family. The roundtable was attended by the Rhodes Forum's founding president Vladamir Yakunin, who was appointed president of Russian Railways by the Government of the Russian Federation in June2005.  The roundtable was moderated by Natalya Yakunina, the wife of Mr Yakunin, who is chairman of Russia's Sanctity of Motherhood programme. I said:
Madam chairman, ladies and gentlemen,

21st century families are deeply affected and damaged by powerful political forces promoting population control, both in developing and in developed countries.

Firstly, there is an unequivocal determination on the part of the world’s most powerful politicians and UN officials to promote access to abortion on demand in every country of the world. Let me begin with President Obama. In a speech on October 12th 2009, Wellington Webb, appointed by Barack Obama as special adviser to the US mission to the United Nations, confirmed that the Obama administration will be promoting legalised abortion throughout the world, targeting adolescents in a worldwide abortion drive.

Hillary Clinton, Obama's appointee as US Secretary of State, had already made it clear that when her government speaks of reproductive health, it's a term which includes access to abortion. In April, 2009, Hilary Clinton told Congressman Chris Smith at a hearing of the US Congress Foreign Affairs Committee "We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women's health and reproductive health includes access to abortion ... ”

Secondly, there’s an unequivocal determination on the part of the world’s most powerful politicians and UN officials to destroy conscientious objection on abortion and on other right to life issues.

Obama’s and Clinton’s pro-abortion allies at the United Nations have been in top gear. In September 2010 at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Ban Ki Moon the UN Secretary General, and Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, launched a report “on discrimination against women, in law and practice, and how the issue is addressed throughout the United Nations human rights system”. In that report they called for the policing of nations worldwide to “address the refusal of physicians to perform legal abortions”.

In the meantime, the anti-life lobby intensified its campaign in the European institutions.

A report on conscientious objection in medicine was debated last October in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe consists of elected representatives from the legislatures of the 47 member-states of the Council of Europe. (Please note that the council is entirely separate from the European Union, a body which includes 27 European nations.) The report’s focus was conscientious objection to abortion, contraception, IVF and euthanasia in "medical" care [my quotation marks]. If the report had been passed, Council of Europe member-states, that’s 47 European nations, would have been put under pressure effectively to abolish in law and practice conscientious objection within medicine.

Thankfully, instead of a pro-abortion victory, the tables were turned, and there was an important pro-life victory instead. Prior to the Council of Europe debate the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in the UK sent detailed briefings to pro-life supporters and to religious leaders in the 47 nations of the Council of Europe. We urged them to lobby their political representatives to vote against this deadly report opposing conscientious objection. The outcome of the debate was radically opposite to the outcome anticipated by the pro-abortion lobby. The pro-abortion report was entitled: “Women’s access to lawful medical care: the problem of unregulated use of conscientious objection,” By way of contrast, the final resolution on the report was headed “The right to conscientious objection in lawful medical care”. The resolution is not perfect but it represents a huge setback for our opponents. It also presents a major new challenge to the pro-life movement in Europe and, perhaps, worldwide.

Thirdly, there is an unequivocal determination to promote homosexuality and other sexual orientation models worldwide probably with a view to bringing forward a resolution at the international level – either at the Human Rights Council or at the UN general Assembly in New York – recognising same-sex marriage.

In June this year, a resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity was presented at the Human Rights Council by South Africa – a resolution organized with the assistance of the United States and the European Union. In a carefully planned strategy, the South African Mission held a meeting on June 9th under the completely misleading heading “The imperative need to respect the established procedures and practices of the United Nations General Assembly in the elaboration on new norms and standards and their subsequent integration into existing international human rights law”.

The result of this meeting was the tabling of a resolution the following day June 10th on "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”. The resolution was passed on a vote in the Human Rights Council by 23 votes to 19 with three abstentions. This resolution was targeted at the Human Rights Council because western countries, in favour of expanding human rights to include sexual orientation and gender identity, currently enjoy a majority there.

Last month a similar resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity was agreed by political parties at the European Parliament.

These resolutions on sexual orientation, promoted by some western governments and powerful NGOs, are concentrating on the issue of discrimination and violence. In this way, sexual orientation issues are being placed on the international political agenda.

No one takes issue with the unacceptability of violence committed against persons. However, resolutions against violence will be used as a platform, for future actions. This is just the beginning, as progress has now been made in establishing the issue within the UN framework. This was a first step and it now seems probable to SPUC’s UN lobbyists that there will be a resolution in the coming months – either at the Human Rights Council in Geneva or at the General Assembly in New York – seeking to recognize same sex marriage.

Why is the issue of homosexuality important specifically for the pro-life movement? The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in no. 97 of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.

This brings me to my fourth point. There is an unequivocal determination on the part of the world’s most powerful politicians and UN officials to destroy parental rights over their children’s education and formation.

In their work at the Human Rights Council, lobbyists working for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children often meet country delegates from developing nations who are preparing reports for United Nations compliance committees. The Committee on the Rights of the Child is the UN’s compliance committee for the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

For example, there is nothing in the Convention on the Rights of the Child that can reasonably be construed as approving abortion or access to abortion for children under the age of consent without their parents’ knowledge or agreement. However, this does not stop the Compliance Committee from making recommendations promoting access to abortion for children under the age of consent without parents’ knowledge or consent. For example, a child’s “right to health” is protected under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. According to the UN Compliance Committee on the Convention a child’s right to health must include access to sexual and reproductive information, including on family planning and contraceptives, the dangers of early pregnancy, the prevention of HIV/AIDS and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In addition, States parties should ensure that they have access to appropriate information, regardless of their marital status ... and regardless of whether their parents or guardians consent.

We can be sure that Pope Benedict’s message on the 1st January this year is anathema to such powerful UN committees. He said: “Parents must be always free to transmit to their children, responsibly and without constraints, their heritage of faith, values and culture.” Unfortunately, Pope Benedict’s strong statement is not universally supported by church officials – and the weakness of Church officials in many parts of the world is completely disastrous for unborn children, for parents and for their families.

Tragically, in Britain, induced abortion and birth control drugs and devices are provided to children at school, including Catholic schools, under the age of 16 without parental knowledge or consent. This is happening with the co-operation of the Catholic authorities - my fifth point.

Britain is witnessing the fulfilment of the prophetic message of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI's historic encyclical which celebrated its 40th anniversary two years ago. Speaking about the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative aspects of sexual intercourse he wrote: 'Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.' When Pope Paul VI wrote these words, he was referring to governments imposing birth control practices on whole societies. His words apply tragically, with terrifying consequences for our families, to Catholic bishops in England and Wales, who co-operate with the British government policy of imposing birth control practices on families like mine.

The failure of Catholic bishops, not only in Britain but in very many parts of the world, to teach their flocks on matters relating to the fundamental right to life was directly responsible for great confusion and, consequently, for the failure of the overwhelming majority of Catholics, both clerical and lay, to provide truly effective resistance to the greatest legalized slaughter of human beings in the history of the world. Countless millions of unborn children were being killed each year and the policy of very many Catholic bishops was contributing hugely to this deplorable situation.

Unless the pro-life movement worldwide and all citizens of good will speak up loud and clear and make this deplorable situation absolutely clear to Christian pastors – the decline into the destruction of unborn children, the destruction of parents’ rights and responsibilities and the destruction of the health and moral welfare of young people will be completed with terrifying speed.

I call upon delegates here in Rhodes and citizens of good will worldwide to heed the words of Archbishop Hilarion Afleyev, President of the Moscow Patricarchate's Department for External Church Relations: "The Christin is called to profess his faith boldly, out of love of God and of his truth, and for the salvation of his soul, for eternal life".

Such religious and moral leadership is urgently needed for the family to survive its catastrophic destruction through the efforts and the will of powerful politicians and UN officials and the through the betrayal of families by religious leaders who have either lost their faith in God or their love for humanity.

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