Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Pro-life victory at Rio ‘sustainable development’ conference: ‘reproductive rights’ excised

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

ROME, June 20, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – International pro-life advocates are claiming victory at a UN-sponsored meeting on the environment in Rio de Janeiro this week. The Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development has angered abortion lobbyists by excluding any mention of abortion, either explicitly or in coded language, in the conference’s outcome document.

Among the parties attending the meeting was the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, a UN-recognized NGO that trail-blazed the international pro-life effort at these kinds of gatherings when it participated in the 1994 meeting on population and development in Cairo. SPUC director John Smeaton told LifeSiteNews.com the defeat of the abortion-pushers at Rio will give strength to governments, churches and the pro-life movement when it comes time to fight at the local level.

“Each brick in the dam or resistance to this tidal wave is crucial,” he said.

Smeaton cited the situation in Ireland as a case in point, saying the country “is under colossal pressure” to legalize abortion from the UN and EU. “Holding the line is exceptionally difficult for pro-life politicians and pro-life groups – resisting the tidal wave of abortions in entire countries such as we continue to do in Ireland and in Northern Ireland is a battle which is constant struggle,” Smeaton said.

Touted as a follow-up to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 UN-sponsored Earth Summit, the Rio meeting is already being called a failure by those who were hoping for a clear declaration making population control, including abortion and sterilization, a key component of efforts to preserve the natural environment.

Pro-life advocates and government representatives have spent months fighting efforts to include code words such as “reproductive rights” or “reproductive health services” in the final document. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Catholics for Choice and the International Planned Parenthood Federation were among the powerful lobby interests attempting to force the UNFPA’s new term “population dynamics” into the document’s language on sexual and reproductive health. The final document, titled “The Future We Want,” which will be signed by 52 heads of state on Friday, has completely excised this language.

Countries supporting the UNFPA included Norway, Iceland, the United States, Canada, Switzerland, the EU and Australia. Among the parties fighting the language of abortion were the UN delegation of the Holy See, the Russian Federation and a group of nations known as the G77 that promote the interests of the nations of the developing world against exploitation.

Timothy Herrmann of CFAM, a key player in the pro-life movement at the UN, noted that the African nations have been intimidated into silence on these issues, saying, “African delegations for one, are afraid that if they speak up that the funding they desperately depend on from organizations like the UNFPA will be cut.”

Various pro-abortion and pro-population control groups blasted the Rio document. Zonibel Woods, of the Women and Climate Change Foundation, lamented in an article published on the pro-abortion website RH Reality Check that the document, “falls short by failing to recognize that reproductive rights are also critical to the achievement of sustainable development.” Amanda Klasing of Human Rights Watch related how her organization and Amnesty International fought for “reproductive rights” language, lamenting, “It’s hard to understand why language on reproductive health and rights could cause such problems at a conference dedicated to seeking solutions for the earth’s currently unsustainable development.”

Other pro-abortion organizations were less specific in their criticisms, but expressed their disappointment as well. “Rio+20 has turned into an epic failure. It has failed on equity, failed on ecology, and failed on economy,” a Greenpeace statement said on Tuesday. The World Wildlife Fund, which has also supported population control, called it “less than satisfactory from any point of view” and the European Union denounced the document for its “lack of ambition.”

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Smeaton told LSN the work of the pro-life movement at such international gatherings is crucial. He noted the significance of the victory at the Council of Europe when that body voted down a resolution which would have called for the abolition of conscientious objection to abortion, contraception, IVF and euthanasia in all 47 member nations.

“The more that related resolutions and language are defeated at the UN, the more easily we will repeat our success. Such success – or failure – has a direct impact on the professional lives of doctors, nurses and those seeking their professional help,” Smeaton added.

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC’s communications manager, told LSN that the result at Rio would have significant impact on the actual working of health care on the ground.

UN-affiliated NGOs who run health care facilities and international aid programs, he said, will be guided by the policies decided at Rio. Such groups depend for their funding and permission to operate on the good will of domestic governments as well as the international agencies and charitable foundations.

“When they send out the next round of grant applications, fundraising letters and requests for planning permissions, any assertion linking abortion to sustainable development can be dismissed on the grounds that the link was discussed at Rio and voted down,” Ozimic said.

“When a regional health clinic run by a UN-affiliated group asks for money for abortion equipment, when in fact the local people need clean drinking water, the Rio document gives the minister and grant-dispensing benefactors a reason to say: ‘Abortion no, water yes’.

“And so when the local women come to regional health clinics, hopefully they will get desalination tablets instead of RU486.”

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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