Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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Vatican-supported Women’s Forum features speakers with strong ties to UN initiatives

The event, held in conjunction with International Women's Day, promoted plurality of religions and included presenters aligned with 'reproductive health' and population control.
Wed Mar 10, 2021 - 8:53 pm EST
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March 10, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) -- The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, which includes Cardinal Miguel Ayuso Guixot and Monsignor Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, Pope Francis' personal secretary, launched its own Women’s Forum on Monday, March 8, when the world celebrated “International Women’s Day.”

Under the title “Hopes and Challenges in a Post-Covid Era,” the online forum focused on “gender equality” and the “exacerbated challenges” women are facing, according to the organizers, because of the pandemic. Several speakers spoke of a “pandemic in the pandemic.”

Most remarkable from a Catholic perspective – and surely this counts because the Higher Committee is grounded on the Abu Dhabi Document undersigned two years ago by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb of the Sunni Al-Azhar University in Cairo – was the fact that several guest speakers have liberal and United Nations backgrounds.

Their participation points to further implementation and promotion of the original mindset of the UN, and particularly of UNESCO, whose first director, Julian Huxley, was a prominent supporter of eugenics. Over the years, the cultural organization of the United Nations has backed new pedagogies and blamed attachment to religions and upholding “tradition” for rivalry, wars and conflict among peoples. UNESCO has always preached that getting rid of religious pretense to the truth, “intolerance,” and acceptance of cultural stereotypes will open an era of peace and brotherhood.

This does not actually require doing away completely with the great historical religions such as Christianity or Islam. Instead, the program spelled out by the United Nations and other globalist groups and alliances calls for restructuring so that they accept peaceful coexistence with each other – and this means that no religion should claim to be the only true religion, to the detriment of the others, but that all should recognize other religions also offer a path to reach God.

Founded some years later than Catholicism, the Sunni Islam professed in Egypt has recently adopted this “aggiornamento” under president Al-Sissi and his pleas for adopting a non-violent interpretation of the Koran. Al-Azhar University has echoed his calls.

This ideological religious tolerance is present in the Abu Dhabi Document, which declared: “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings.” If the diversity of religions is willed by God, it means that He wills different forms of worship addressing themselves to different gods and suggests that, ultimately, all prayers to divinity are addressed to one and the same only God.

This mindset was clearly behind the Women’s Forum organized Monday by the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, whose objective is to promote peace and tolerance among religions, particularly so-called “Abrahamic” religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam, with the papal benediction, so to speak.

One of the featured speakers was Irina Bokova, former director of UNESCO and now a full-fledged member of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity. The Bulgarian-born Bokova is known for her links to communism in her native land. Her father was the director of a communist newspaper and she joined the Communist Youth. Her entry into politics took place when communism fell and she joined the Bulgarian Socialist Party, which was simply the communist party under a new name.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama supported Bokova's successful bid to head UNESCO, which she headed for eight years from 2009 to 2017. A number of former victims and political prisoners of the communist régime tried to block Bokova’s nomination, to no avail.

Another speaker at the virtual Women’s Forum was vice-president Epsy Campbell Barr of Costa Rica. She is a proponent of “gender equality,” and on June 5, 2020 called “Black Lives Matter” a “salvation motto,” calling on all to follow the young people who decided to “march and raise the banners of justice, equality and love.” Her idea for getting out of the COVID crisis was to “put money in women’s pockets” and to implement “universal health insurance.”

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Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the executive director of UN Women – the agency that has often promoted “sexual and reproductive health services” – was also online. She has repeatedly asked for the recognition of “reproductive rights” for women, in particular during the Zika epidemic. She also joined International Safe Abortion Day on Twitter by pointing out how many women die of unsafe abortion.

Another UN agency leader, Natalia Kanem, the executive director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), also spoke during the hourlong forum. She was presented as having “over 30 years of strategic leadership experience in the field of preventative medicine, public and reproductive health, social justice and philanthropy.” She spoke out against “domestic violence,” calling for “peace in the home” that is more difficult to obtain because of COVID restrictions. But she never criticized the restrictions themselves.

Ambassador Susan Esserman spoke out against human sex and labor trafficking in the lockdown era now that traffickers are using “modern communications technologies” to keep their business afloat. She was presented as having “previously served in four senior positions in the Clinton administration.”

The last lady to speak – after a lengthy succession of platitudes that to date has obtained 53 views on YouTube  – was also the most typical of the Human Fraternity mindset. Azza Karam, a former senior adviser on culture at the UNFPA who now serves at as the secretary-general of Religions for Peace and appeared on screen with an Islamic veil, gave a passionate talk that stated in plain terms what the meeting was actually about.

Karam called the Human Fraternity Document “in itself seminal in the fact that the Catholic pope and the Muslim grand imam together put these words and these commitments in the document of human fraternity.” She added, “It is historic in every possible sense: social, political, cultural … It is a tremendously powerful document. Why? Not because the words in it are new in any way, shape or form, but because it is a commitment from two leading men of two of the largest religious establishments of the world, al-Azhar and the Vatican, and the fact that they, some 75 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, can actually iterate, reiterate these points in a document in which they commit to the fraternity of humanity. That in and of itself is a remarkably valuable point.”

This makes very clear that she considers the Abu Dhabi Document to be a shift from traditional beliefs and thinking to the universal humanist, not to say Masonic approach, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Karam added, “It happened to come just before we had the Corona COVID pandemic … God works in mysterious ways as they say. We have an opportunity to celebrate – not just to call upon because it’s already there – but to celebrate the fact that the world's two largest religious institutions, which between them have billions of believers, have actually been able to reiterate finally what we see in the international and universal and indivisible human rights.”

She then quoted a 2019 meeting of 250 faith leaders “across the faith spectrum,” including representatives of the Vatican under the auspices of her own “Religions for Peace” movement, especially commending the fact that the UN Sustainable Development Goals were at the heart of their commitments, with “gender equality” and “women’s empowerment” as the fore.

Karam was the only speaker to slam “authoritarianism” used by “several regimes” in the name of “protection” against COVID, but the brunt of her speech involved calling on “religious and secular civic spaces” to work together. She regretted that the first “multi-religious humanitarian fund” launched by Religions for Peace did not generate a great deal of donations.

Responding to the COVID crisis, she remarked, “We notice that the Catholics works separately, the Protestants work separately, the Muslims work separately, the Muslim Shia work separately … We cannot afford to let the religions respond to the humanitarian emergency separately, we must encourage and support them to work together with one another and to work with the secular institutions.”

Ultimately, this means a rejection of religious identity when all are expected to bring the same response with the same objectives.
She gave the example of the Evangelical camp hospital set up in Central Park in New York.

“When two other religious organizations approached it and said, ‘We’d like to help you, we’d like to support this,’ they were told 'no thank you, we've got this.' But nobody's got this and no one religious institution and no one political institution has got this and the fact that we can even say that to one another when there is an offer of assistance shows that we're going down a very dangerous path indeed.” 

Her comments are revealing about the true aims of people who want religions to be at “peace” with one another. The groups that wanted to “help” were LGBT activists, who refused to sign the statement of faith that the pro-life and anti-gay “marriage” Evangelical group Samaritan’s Purse require all of its staff to sign.

All religions working together means putting a damper on one’s beliefs in the name of diversity and togetherness.

Karam concluded, “It is high time that we work to bridge the divide between secular and religious and to ensure that the religions work systematically together. Help us, as we do with our Higher Committee on Human Fraternity, work with Religions for Peace, the United Nations of religions. It has every single religious institution and faith community represented. Help us work together, help us make sure that the religious women of this world who are 80 percent of the service deliverers across the world in humanitarian emergencies and otherwise, help us make sure that they are well served by all of us together.”

This is one more step toward global spirituality by way of “horizontal” objectives: material peace, material health, and material well-being.


  abu dhabi document, azza karam, catholic, catholicism, christianity, covid-19, espy campbell barr, higher committee for human fraternity, international women's day, irina bokova, islam, miguel ayuso guixot, pope francis, susan esserman, unesco, united nations, women's forum

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