UN Special Session on Children Begins   UNITED NATIONS, May 8, 2002 ( – The Special Session on Children of the General Assembly of the United Nations opened today.  In Rome, Pope John Paul noted the importance of the meeting asking “everyone to pray for a positive result” in that all social activity involving children “may be inspired by an authentic promotion of the human family and by a full respect for their fundamental rights.”

Addressing an interfaith meeting on the special session yesterday, Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, pointed out while various UN documents call for the protection of the right to life of the child, developments within the UN often contradict this protection.  In one of the most critical statements issued by the Vatican regarding the international body, the Cardinal said, “The Declaration on the Rights of the Child recognizes that, ‘… the child by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth’ (Preamble) and ‘… every child has the inherent right to life’, (Article 6). Yet, many delegations and governments refuse to recognize that fact; that right to life and the truth that life does indeed begin at the moment of conception. Delegations and governments refuse to affirm that every child has a right to protection and special care by the fact of the dignity with which he or she has been endowed by God, and that such protection is owed to the child before birth as well as after the child is born.”  The Cardinal continued, “It is bewildering to think that many of those same delegations that refuse to recognize the human dignity of the unborn child claim to speak for the dignity of the oppressed, or those who suffer from discrimination. Such a selective, superficial or distorted recognition and understanding of human dignity is truly a denial of one of those social truths that should never be questioned or challenged.”  The Cardinal also pointed to UN documents which support the traditional family and noted that despite the affirmations, “it seems that in almost every debate in which the role of the family is discussed, this basic and recognized truth is challenged, and too many delegations attempt to change the understanding of the make-up and role of the family in society and in the life of the child.”  The Cardinal warned that at the UN “there is a denial of parents’ rights, there is a denial of their religious or social background as well as their heritage.”  He also pointed out that “Another basic truth is pushed aside in the name of progressive thinking; tradition is broken down and society begins to crumble.”  The US Catholic Conference of Bishops also added their voice to the call for reform at the UN.  Speaking of the special session, Cathleen A. Cleaver, Esq., Director of Planning and Information for the USCCB’s Secretariat for Pro-life Activities, said “Our priority must be to meet the needs that truly promote the human dignity of children and their families, not to push abortion on children as some sort of `reproductive health service’.” Cleaver continued: “We applaud the Bush Administration’s efforts to explore opportunities in the document to promote good choices for children by including language on sexual abstinence and the critical role and responsibilities of parents and families.”  Debate on the outcome document of the special session “A World Fit for Children” continues with dozens of pending articles remaining in the draft document which was released yesterday.  The bulk of the continuing disagreement over the document pertains to language on life and family issues.  The European Union and Canada are insisting on language to promote abortion.  For instance, one of the pending statements in the draft document calls for all States to “Provide appropriate, user-friendly and accessible health education, information and services, including reproductive and mental health services, to adolescents.”

Outside the UN today, the pro-abortion group Catholics for a Free Choice were desperate to try to stop the Holy See’s work against their agenda.  Attempting to garner the spotlight the militant pro-abortion, anti-Catholic organization demanded the UN investigate whether the church’s treatment of molestation claims violated the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child.  See the Pope’s prayer request, the Cardinal’s address and the USCCB release:   See the draft outcome document:   See Real Time Internet coverage of the special session:  See the Reuters coverage of the CFFC: _________________________________________