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Lilianne Ploumen, the Dutch foreign trade and development minister, launched the She Decides initiative. Shutterstock.com
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Vatican attempts to explain giving high honor to adamant abortion supporter

Doug Mainwaring Doug Mainwaring Follow Doug

VATICAN CITY, January 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Concern and controversy were stirred up when leading abortion activist Liliane Ploumen displayed on Dutch television a pontifical honor bestowed on her during a visit to the Vatican in 2017.  

Ploumen boasted that she had received a “high distinction from the Vatican, from the Pope,” in a video broadcast. Reception into the Order of St. Gregory is known to be given for “meritorious service to the Church,” so Ploumen has legitimate boasting rights.

Reason for concern

In 2017, Ploumen launched SheDecides, which, according to the movement’s website, is a “global movement” meant to “support the fundamental rights of girls and women to decide freely and for themselves about their sexual lives, including whether, when, with whom and how many children they have. This includes having access to modern contraception, to sexual and relationship literacy and safe abortion.”  

SheDecides is unapologetic about our focus on the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive rights and health,” the site continues, “including safe abortion and comprehensive sexuality education.”  

According to a joint report filed by OnePeterFive and The Lepanto Institute, which broke the story, “The SheDecides initiative came in response to the funding gap for “family planning” facilities around the world created after U.S. President Donald Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy, which blocks American federal funding for NGOs providing abortion services. Within six months, SheDecides — which has the support of 60 countries — had received pledges totaling $300 million (USD).

All this occurred within the months immediately preceding Ploumen’s reception of the Vatican Award in June 2017, but somehow, presumably, escaped Vatican vetting.

Outcry

Catholics around the world, stunned by the news, reached out to the Vatican for an explanation for awarding a politician who strongly supports abortion – and homosexuality – such an honor.

Former editor-in-chief of Katholiek Nieuwsblad, Henk Rijkers, said in a tweet that the “decoration by the Pope of former abortion minister Lilian Ploumen” is a scandal, and that the Dutch mainstream media’s disinterest in the topic “shows how the killing of unborn babies is banalized here as a standard governmental policy & how the media collaborate in that.”

Also on Monday, Holland’s Cardinal Wim Eijk, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, distanced himself from the controversy, saying he had no part in the Vatican’s action.  

Steve Skojec of OnePeterFive said he reached out to Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office, several days ago for clarification but received no response.

Instead, perhaps galled by the OnePeterFive and The Lepanto Institute report last week, the Vatican felt pressured to make an announcement to calm the choppy waters Ploumen’s award had stirred up and finally issued a statement.   

Standard protocol: Nothing to see here, folks

Vatican officials are dismissing this as a matter of standard protocol, saying Ploumen received “the ancient papal honor as ‘diplomatic practice’ for a visiting official head of state delegation to the Vatican,” according to a report by the National Catholic Register’s Ed Pentin.

In a statement released to select Catholic media on Monday night, Paloma García Ovejero, deputy spokesperson of the Holy See Press Office, said:

“The honor of the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great received by Mrs. Lilianne Ploumen, former Minister of Development, in June 2017 during the visit of the Dutch Royals to the Holy Father, responds to the diplomatic practice of the exchange of honors between delegations on the occasion of official visits by Heads of State or Government in the Vatican.

Therefore, it is not in the slightest a placet (an expression of assent) to the politics in favor of abortion and of birth control that Mrs Ploumen promotes.”     

Vatican explanation still lacking

OnePeterFive’s Steve Skojec points out that the Vatican’s press release about the matter raises more questions –– and suspicions –– than it answers. He asks:

  • Why was no vetting process applied to the distribution of these awards?

  • Why was a 186-year-old papal decoration created to bestow a supreme honor on those who have served the Church well being given out like a commemorative Vatican snow globe or a pope pencil in a VIP visitor goody bag?

  • Why was there no statement condemning or distancing the Vatican from Ploumen’s public comments in which she says she was awarded a “prize” by a Vatican that probably knew what she was about in confirmation of her work?

  • Why was there no expression of remorse that an award was given to one of the most effective single promoters of abortion in the world today?

  • Why was the award not recalled?

  • If the reward could not be recalled without creating a diplomatic crisis, why was there nothing in the statement encouraging Ploumen to voluntarily return it, or at the very least stop using it to mislead people into thinking the pope was rubber stamping her agenda?

Ploumen: radical promoter of abortion and homosexuality

Ploumen’s activism extends beyond abortion to outrageous promotion of gay rights.  

“In 2010, she urged homosexuals to disrupt Mass in a Dutch cathedral after an openly homosexual man was denied Holy Communion” the NCR report by Pentin continues.  “Last September, Ploumen was a prominent speaker at the LGBT’s Core Group at the United Nations. The Vatican statement made no explicit mention of her political activism in that area.”

Catholics left wondering

“It’s difficult to be dismissive of Ploumen’s award as a simple oversight,” last week’s  OnePeterFive / The Lepanto Institute report pointed out, “which lends some Vatican watchers to wonder if perhaps (Ploumen’s) bold claims about the award being confirmation of her work might have some truth to them.”  

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