Editorial by John-Henry Westen

OTTAWA, June 25, 2009 ( – Seeking to justify the giving of Catholic monies to groups that do not follow church teaching on abortion and contraception, Archbishop James Weisgerber recently used as an example the Vatican's yearly contribution to UNICEF.  Ironically, however, the Winnipeg archbishop, who is currently the head of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), only managed to disprove his own point, since the Vatican actually halted its yearly donation to UNICEF in 1996, precisely because the organization was found to be promoting abortion and contraception.

Journalist Michael Swan reported Monday in both Catholic News Service  and The Catholic Register that Archbishop Weisgerber said it is not necessary that Development and Peace work only with groups that espouse Catholic moral teaching.  Reported Swan: “Weisgerber used the example of yearly Vatican contributions to UNICEF, the United Nations agency for children with which the Vatican has disagreed on contraception and abortion policy. Vatican donations are earmarked for specific programs or projects which reflect Vatican priorities.”

However, the problem with the example is that in 1996, the Vatican announced  that it would suspend their yearly contribution, and has confirmed with the Vatican that, as of yesterday, the donation has not been reinstated. 

In announcing the decision to suspend the “symbolic contribution” to UNICEF, the then-Vatican representative to the United Nations, Archbishop Renato Martino, explained that the decision was based on four concerns:

  1. The failure of UNICEF to provide accountability for funds which donors have 'earmarked' for specific and morally unobjectionable child-related programs despite numerous requests by the Holy See for such assurances;
  2. The participation of UNICEF in the publication of a United Nations Manual advocating the distribution of abortifacient 'post-coital contraceptives' to refugee women in emergency situations;
  3. Evidence of UNICEF involvement in advocacy to alter national legislation regarding abortion; and
  4. Credible reports that UNICEF workers in various countries were distributing contraceptives and counseling their use.

Hence, Archbishop Weisgerber's error served to disprove rather than prove his point.  The Vatican decision regarding UNICEF is thus an example of the Vatican taking exactly the opposite stance to Development & Peace – of cutting off Catholic funding for groups found to be promoting abortion and contraception.

The Vatican's stance on UNICEF bears even more resemblance to the Development and Peace situation than what is reported above. 

Just as the funded partners of Development and Peace have stated repeatedly they do not engage in activities opposed to Church teaching – so too did UNICEF with the Vatican, in the face of incontrovertible evidence.

Archbishop Martino related in 1996 that the Vatican “has had an on-going dialogue with UNICEF for a number of years regarding its concerns. During that time UNICEF has assured the Holy See that, while UNICEF does advocate child spacing, it does not promote any particular family planning method. Further, the Holy See has been assured that UNICEF would never be involved in abortion or abortion-related activities.”

The difference between the Vatican's take on UNICEF and D&P's take on their pro-abortion partners seems to be that the Vatican accepted hard evidence over the misrepresentations of UNICEF, while D&P is still rejecting the evidence.

“However, in spite of such statements, the new involvement of UNICEF in the areas of concern outlined above has forced the Holy See to take this visible step,” explained Archbishop Martino.

For all D&P coverage 


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