Thursday, 13 February 2014

il Foglio organises appeal to Pope Francis after disturbingly weak response of the Holy See to UN report

The commendable Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, C-FAM have organised a petition to Defend the Holy See in the wake of the recent Concluding observations on the second periodic report of the Holy See made by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The observations were not limited to matters concerning the response to child abuse, but include demands that the Catholic Church promote abortion, homosexuality and contraception, and effectively abandon its moral teaching in favour of secular humanist ideology.

Even the Wall Street Journal characterised this as The U.N. Assault on the Catholic Church, calling it "an attempt to bully the church into bowing before the altar of Turtle Bay." (Turtle Bay is the neighbourhood in New York where the UN Headquarters is located.) Claudia Rosett effectively exposes the hypocrisy of the UN ("Blue berets accused of sex crimes are simply sent back to their home countries, where in the majority of cases they drop off the radar") and its selective indignation, citing the UN's bland response to horrendous incidents in Saudi Arabia and North Korea (see the article for details.) She points out that "whatever changes the Vatican and the world's 1.2 billion Catholics might consider, the U.N. is supremely ill-qualified to serve as a guide."

I have signed the C-FAM petition and encourage you to do so (here), but as well as widespread comment even in the secular press that the UN has gone way beyond its remit, there has also been a significant reaction in Italy to the weakness of the response of the Holy See and particularly that of the Cardinal Secretary of State.

Giuliano Ferrara, the editor of the national Italian single-sheet daily il Foglio, has organised an appeal in the form of an open letter to Pope Francis, urging the Holy Father to help the laity in promoting a counter-offensive. The summary page has a full list of signatories.

In his background article Sparano sui preti per emendarsi, Ferrara urges "a stronger, more rigorous response which combines the energy of the faith with the resources of rational culture which are common to all, believers or not."

With reference to the il Foglio appeal, the blog Eponymous Flower published an article by Giuseppe Nardi yesterday which offers further analysis of the power vested in UN agencies, the threat of the Holy See to this power, and the possible reason for the weakness of the Holy See's response. (See: Weak Reaction to UN Attack Against Church -- Bishops' Synod to Attack "Humanae Vitae"?)

The financial and political power of the UN agencies enables them to impose policies, especially on developing countries, that have the support of secularists and humanists in the West but without any democratic mandate or public debate. We are wearily familiar with the promotion of abortion, contraception, gay marriage and gender ideology under the banner of "reproductive rights."

The Holy See stands as an obstacle and a permanent irritant to those in the UN who would prefer to have a free hand in imposing the secular humanist creed on all in its path. Thanks to the Lateran Treaty, the Holy See, operating from the Vatican City State, has sovereignty and must therefore be recognised as a member state and a permanent observer at the UN. Many would like to change this and reduce the Holy See to the status of an NGO.

Not having economic or territorial ambitions beyond the small area of the Vatican City State and the internal government of the Church, the Holy See, unlike many smaller states, is not threatened by economic disadvantage or the withdrawal of military aid as a consequence of opposing the powerful lobbies of the West. It is therefore free to promote policy based on the natural law, and the dignity of the human person, sometimes offering leadership to others, for example in South America and in the Islamic world, creating a bloc of votes that is infuriating for the secular humanists and gives further reason for them to discredit the Catholic Church and attempt to change its nature.

Hence, influential scholars, writers, and professionals from many fields have supported the appeal of il Foglio that a more robust response should be made to the attempt by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to undermine the teaching of the Catholic Church and even urge the Holy See to change that teaching.

There was a Vatican Press Release in response to the Observations of the UN which expressed "regret" at the attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching. The Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, gave a brief holding statement which merely expressed surprise that the Observations attempted to interfere with the teaching of the Church. In a lengthy interview with the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire, given by the Cardinal just three days after the publication of the UN Observations, one might expect a large watermark in the shape of an elephant with "UN" printed on it.

The explanation of Giuseppe Nardi for the disturbingly weak response of the Holy See is that within the Church there is a powerful lobby which would in fact welcome precisely the kind of changes in the Church's moral teaching that are urged by the UN. This is not an outlandish suggestion given the current, subtle jockeying for position among various senior ecclesiastics on the issues of divorce and remarriage, homosexual unions, contraception, and the offering of abortion counselling services. Nardi suggests that some wish to make the forthcoming Synod on the Family "a late revenge for the encyclical Humanae Vitae."

As I lean out of my window this afternoon in South-East England, I see glorious sunshine, a few fluffy clouds and notice only a light breeze. It is chilly but not unpleasant. Yet we know that we could again be battered by storms, gales and flooding within a matter of hours. I wonder if this is a metaphor for the current state of the Church.
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