Archbishop Auza, the Apostolic Nuncio for the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, issued a new statement to the United Nations, emphasizing the reservations the Catholic Church has with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In the statement, the Archbishop clearly identified areas within the Sustainable Development Goals that will be used to promote abortion and birth control, and requested that these written reservations be entered into the official records of the meeting. In part, Archbishop Auza’s statement said:
While agreeing with most of the goals and targets enumerated in the Agenda, the Holy See, in conformity with its nature and particular mission, wishes to make the following reservations on some of the concepts used therein.
1. Regarding the terms “sexual and reproductive health” and “reproductive rights”, the Holy See considers these terms as applying to a holistic concept of health, which embrace, each in their own way, the person in the entirety of his or her personality, mind and body, and which foster the achievement of personal maturity in sexuality and in the mutual love and decision-making that characterize the conjugal-relationship between a man and a woman in accordance with moral norms. The Holy See does not consider abortion or access to abortion or abortifacients as a dimension of these terms.
2. With reference to the terms “contraception”, “family planning”, “sexual and reproductive health”, “sexual and reproductive rights”, “reproductive rights”, and any other terms regarding family-planning services and regulation of fertility concepts in the document, the Holy See reaffirms its well-known position concerning those family-planning methods which the Catholic Church considers morally acceptable and, on the other hand, family-planning services which do not respect the liberty of the spouses, human dignity and the human rights of those concerned.
It is indeed encouraging to see that the Holy See is attempting to make its concerns regarding sexual and reproductive health, as identified in the SDGs, more clear. In June of this year, the Lepanto Institute wrote about a previous statement made by Archbishop Auza, which supported the SDGs “verbatim,” so it is good to see an expression of deeper concern with the SDGs. However, while the Holy See does express proper concern about the intention of the UN to include abortion in the SDGs (not as a form of birth control, but as a practice nonetheless), we would like to see a clearer and stronger condemnation of the UN’s stated objective of spreading artificial contraception through the SDGs. For instance, paragraph one of the Archbishop’s statement only refers to abortion and abortifacients with regard to “sexual and reproductive health” and “reproductive rights.” Why no condemnation of artificial contraception here, which is clearly also intended by these references? Condoms, diaphragms, sterilizations, and other non-abortifacient means of contraception are clearly identified in the SDG’s in the subtext of Goal 5, where it defines “sexual and reproductive health” and “reproductive rights” “as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action.” Paragraph 94 of the Beijing Platform for Action clearly defines “reproductive health” as “ access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other methods of their choice for regulation of fertility“. While the Vatican and certain Catholic countries may be able to force that definition into a Catholic understanding of NFP, the United Nations’ agencies, which will be implementing the SDGs, have no intention of applying a Catholic understanding to these terms.
Paragraph two of the Archbishop’s statement is needlessly ambiguous and lacking in the necessary condemnation of contraception. The Archbishop says, “the Holy See reaffirms its well-known position concerning … family-planning services which do not respect the liberty of the spouses, human dignity and the human rights of those concerned.” This wording is a far-cry from the very clear condemnation of Pope Paul VI of all forms of contraception in paragraph 14 of Humanae Vitae:
14. Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. (14) Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. (15)
Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means. (16)
Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good,” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18)—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.
Appealing to the “liberty of spouses” and human dignity and rights holds very little weight when it comes to the gravity of the intrinsically evil nature of contraception. We encourage the Mission of the Holy See to the UN to take a stronger line with the UN with regard to contraception, perhaps even a declaration of intent to condemn the SDGs altogether as long as any support or promotion of abortion and/or birth control remains in them at all.
Let us continue to pray and fast for Archbishop Auza and Pope Francis. In the mean time, send a message of encouragement to the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, thanking Archbishop Auza for reiterating the Vatican’s reservations regarding abortion in the SDGs, but also asking him to issue a more clear condemnation of all forms of contraception that are most certainly defined in the goals themselves. In truth, due to the distinctly Marxist character of the SDGs, it would be best for the Holy See not to support them at all.
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