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Our Work at the United Nations

Priests for Life is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. We participate in meetings at the United Nations and collaborate with the Holy See and numerous pro-family NGOs to foster international policies protecting the dignity of human life at all stages.

May 15, 2014

In a United Nations side-event organized by the Holy See Mission and presided over by Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Archbishop Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family reminded delegates of Pope Francis’ words to UN agency heads at the Vatican on May 9 saying “… that human life is sacred and inviolable from conception to its natural ending,…” Archbishop Paglia went to on to say that “the family not only ‘matters,’ it is rather at the very heart of human development, indispensable and irreplaceable, and at the same time beautiful and welcoming.”

Archbishop Paglia was also in the US for meetings in Philadelphia, site of next year's Vatican World Meeting of Families worldmeeting2015.org taking place September 22-27.

Click here to read the full text of the statement.

April 10, 2014

The statement was read during the 47th Session of the Commission on Population and Development, taking place in New York, 7-11 April by Msgr. Janusz Urbanczyk, Chargé d'Affaires, Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations where he reminded the assembly that

According to the report of the Secretary General, no fewer than 80 countries now register a fertility rate below replacement level. These statistics should be a great cause for alarm, as expressed in another report of the Secretary General: Old-age support ratios, defined as the number of working-age adults per older person in the population, are already low in most countries of the more developed regions and are expected to continue to fall in the coming decades, ensuring continued fiscal pressure on support systems for older people. The unsustainable phenomenon of ageing populations can only be resolved by promoting family life and fertility. Support systems for the ageing can only be sustained by a larger, not smaller, next generation, either by paying into a social security system, or by providing intergenerational family support directly.

My delegation wishes to express grave concern over a very proscriptive approach taken in the zero draft of the outcome document, towards the implementation of the ICPD. This approach seems to treat fertility and pregnancy as a disease which must either be prevented or managed via government or outside assistance. While this may well reflect the concerns of certain highly developed countries, on a universal scale it certainly skews the population and development realities for the most part of the developing countries of the world, for whom other issues take greater priority. My delegation is of the view that a more sensible approach should focus less on reducing fertility and more on programs and values which support integral human development, namely: personal, social, and spiritual development. Access to education, economic opportunity, political stability, basic health care, and support for the family should serve as the key priorities for achieving such integral human development.

An issue of great international sensitivity is an insistent promotion of so-called sexual and reproductive "rights", almost to the exclusion of any other issue. This reflects an improper overtaking of the ICPD Programme of Action by efforts to promote the legalization and/or liberalization of abortion laws, whether by Member States or some UN Agencies, who openly promote laws providing for legal abortion.

However, the Programme of Action in no way promotes abortion, but expressly repudiates it as a mean of controlling families or the population. The ICPD denies that it creates any new rights in this regard. Such laws and policies remain the prerogative of individual Member States according to the Programme of Action. All States emphasized at Cairo that Governments should help women avoid recourse to abortion.

Pope Francis recently addressed this issue:

Among the vulnerable for whom the church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. . [T]he church cannot be expected to change her position on this question. It is not 'progressive' to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.

The Holy See continues to serve at the front-line addressing greater global poverty, human rights and development. Through its presence and emphasis on providing quality and affordable education, health care, access to food and respect for all human rights, the Holy See demonstrates that care and compassion for the poor, rather than focusing on fertility reduction, serves as a model for a truly human-centered approach to development.

Priests for Life in its role as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations is participating in the 47th meeting of the Commission on Population and Development http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/index.shtml and also called attention to the critical period of development in the first 1000 days of life-from conception to the second birthday- in its statement posted on the CPD website. http://papersmart.unmeetings.org/en/ecosoc/cpd/47th-session/documents/

April 10, 2014

The statement read by Msgr. Janusz Urbanczyk, Chargé d'Affaires, Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations Commission on Population and Development 47th Session United Nations Headquarters, New York, 10 April 2014 reminded the assembly that

According to the report of the Secretary General, no fewer than 80 countries now register a fertility rate below replacement level. These statistics should be a great cause for alarm, as expressed in another report of the Secretary General: Old-age support ratios, defined as the number of working-age adults per older person in the population, are already low in most countries of the more developed regions and are expected to continue to fall in the coming decades, ensuring continued fiscal pressure on support systems for older people. The unsustainable phenomenon of ageing populations can only be resolved by promoting family life and fertility. Support systems for the ageing can only be sustained by a larger, not smaller, next generation, either by paying into a social security system, or by providing intergenerational family support directly.

My delegation wishes to express grave concern over a very proscriptive approach taken in the zero draft of the outcome document, towards the implementation of the ICPD. This approach seems to treat fertility and pregnancy as a disease which must either be prevented or managed via government or outside assistance. While this may well reflect the concerns of certain highly developed countries, on a universal scale it certainly skews the population and development realities for the most part of the developing countries of the world, for whom other issues take greater priority. My delegation is of the view that a more sensible approach should focus less on reducing fertility and more on programs and values which support integral human development, namely: personal, social, and spiritual development. Access to education, economic opportunity, political stability, basic health care, and support for the family should serve as the key priorities for achieving such integral human development.

An issue of great international sensitivity is an insistent promotion of so-called sexual and reproductive “rights”, almost to the exclusion of any other issue. This reflects an improper overtaking of the ICPD Programme of Action by efforts to promote the legalization and/or liberalization of abortion laws, whether by Member States or some UN Agencies, who openly promote laws providing for legal abortion.

However, the Programme of Action in no way promotes abortion, but expressly repudiates it as a mean of controlling families or the population. The ICPD denies that it creates any new rights in this regard. Such laws and policies remain the prerogative of individual Member States according to the Programme of Action. All States emphasized at Cairo that Governments should help women avoid recourse to abortion.

Pope Francis recently addressed this issue:

Among the vulnerable for whom the church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. … [T]he church cannot be expected to change her position on this question… It is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life

The Holy See continues to serve at the front-line addressing greater global poverty, human rights and development. Through its presence and emphasis on providing quality and affordable education, health care, access to food and respect for all human rights, the Holy See demonstrates that care and compassion for the poor, rather than focusing on fertility reduction, serves as a model for a truly human-centered approach to development.

Priests for Life in its role as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations is participating in the 47th meeting of the Commission on Population and Development http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/index.shtml and also called attention to the critical period of development in the first 1000 days of life—from conception to the second birthday— in its statement posted on the CPD website. http://papersmart.unmeetings.org/en/ecosoc/cpd/47th-session/documents/

April 7, 2014

Priests for Life in its role as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations is participating in the 47th meeting of the Commission on Population and Development  and calls attention to the critical period of development in the first 1000 days of life—from conception to the second birthday— in its statement posted on the CPD website.

The week-long meeting focuses on the priority theme, "Assessment of the status of implementation of the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development."  Priests for Life reminds CPD that programs that promote the well-being of women must also protect children’s lives - the health of children begins in the womb. It is increasingly recognized that the first 1000 days of life -  from conception to the child’s second birthday - is a critical period that determines the health of a child for his or her entire life. Priests for Life calls on CSW to focus on this ‘window of opportunity’ and ensure that women of childbearing age are well nourished so they are healthier and better able to provide nourishment for their preborn children, ensuring healthy physical and cognitive development. Healthy children grow up to be healthy adults who are better equipped to make meaningful contributions to their families and society.

Read the full statement

March 17, 2014

Father Pavone, along with several other NGOs, is co-sponsoring an important side event at the UN on Tuesday March 18 at 12:00 entitled “Family, Motherhood and Development Goals” in the Hardin Room, Church Center UN 777 UN Plaza. 2014 marks the 20th Anniversary of the International Year for the Family, and the priority theme of the 58th session of the Commission is “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls”.  See flyer.

March 12, 2014

Priests for Life in its role as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations is participating in the 48th meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and calls attention to the critical period of development in the first 1000 days of life—from conception to the second birthday— in its statement posted on the CSW website. http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw58-2014/official-documents

The two week meeting focuses on the priority theme, “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls”. Father Pavone notes, “The world has made great progress in reducing maternal deaths and continued efforts to protect the lives of mothers must not include access to abortion. Abortion is not health care; abortion destroys the lives of precious children while often harming their mothers.”

Priests for Life reminds CSW that programs that promote the well-being of women must also protect children’s lives — the health of children begins in the womb. It is increasingly recognized that the first 1000 days of life— from conception to the child’s second birthday—is a critical period that determines the health of a child for his or her entire life. Priests for Life calls on CSW to focus on this ‘window of opportunity’ and ensure that women of childbearing age are well nourished so they are healthier and better able to provide nourishment for their preborn children, ensuring healthy physical and cognitive development. Healthy children grow up to be healthy adults who are better equipped to make meaningful contributions to their families and society.

Read the full statement

February 5, 2014

As a registered Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council, Priests for Life will be participating in the Fifty-Second Session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD52) February 11-21, 2014 at United Nations Headquarters in New York. PFL submitted a statement on the priority theme "Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all" which has been posted on the website of the CSocD52 in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, and Chinese.

Father Pavone states, “It is important that we remind the UN Commission on Social Development that the dignity and intrinsic value of every human being must be protected and upheld in all policies and programs that seek to end poverty and provide employment and decent work for all. No life is expendable.”

Priests for Life by participating in this latest UN meeting will again advance respect for all members of the family, from conception to natural death, and affirm that the intrinsic dignity of life is the foundation of human rights. The PFL statement includes, “Fundamental respect for human life—and human rights—cannot be negotiable or contingent on age, sex, race, disability, wantedness, condition of dependency or stage of development.”

“Life is not just for the privileged, the perfect and the planned but extends to all members of the human family, including preborn children. Policies to eradicate poverty must recognize the potential of all individuals to help solve the problem of poverty and not treat people as the problem.” Read the full statement.

October 21, 2013

Fr. Pavone applauds Archbishop Chullikatt, the Pope’s personal representative at the United Nations, for his constant and unwavering support of the unborn child and his recent remarks at the UN defending the child’s rights both “before and after birth”. He stated that “Indeed, without life, all other rights are meaningless.” Archbishop Chullikatt spoke in response to the Secretary General’s Report on the Status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. See more holyseemission.org/statements/statement.aspx?id=446

April 26, 2013

On the occasion of the 46th Session of the UN’s Commission on Population and Development, taking place this past week in NY and where Priests for Life delegates have been participating, members were reminded by the Holy See’s Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, Apostolic Nuncio in a statement delivered to the assembly, that

“we cannot fail to recognize the impact that the enactment of draconian population control policies have wreaked on countries whose populations can no longer sustain themselves, nor the destructive impact that the forced promotion of harmful notions, such as reproductive rights, has had on migrant families, trivialising marriage and the family and denying the very right to life for the unborn. Such a promotion of population control as a way to development has also led States to use forced abortion and sterilization as a means for controlling or mitigating the demographic and racial impact of migrants on their countries. States, on the contrary, have the duty to bolster the family, “the fundamental group unit of society”[6], so as to provide support for the institution where the relations of tomorrow must be cultivated.

The full statement can be found at http://holyseemission.org/statements/statement.aspx?id=414

February 21, 2013

Fr Pavone applauds Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, for important remarks he made on the family at a United Nations event sponsored by The Holy See Mission entitled “The Family, a Resource for Society”. The February 15th address was given in preparation for the Twentieth Anniversary of the International Year of the Family under the auspices of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The President spoke of “the family as the fundamental resource of society, the source of social capital and the birthright of all humanity.” Priests for Life UN delegates were present for the address which can be found in its entirety at http://www.holyseemission.org/events/event.aspx?id=37

February 18, 2013

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women - General Discussion on "access to justice"

The UN treaty monitoring body, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), held a General Discussion on "access to justice" yesterday in Geneva in preparation for the writing of its “General Recommendation” on “access to justice”. General Recommendations are used by CEDAW to address issues that are not part of the treaty and are used at times to promote the radical agenda. The treaty does not in any way promote abortion, yet the committee often recommends that countries change laws that restrict or ban abortion. In their written submissions, pro-abortion activists argued that legal abortion is necessary for women to have “access to justice” presenting abortion as a human right and urging the elimination of laws protecting the child in the womb from the violence of abortion.

Marie Smith, a PFL representative to the UN and Director of the Gospel of Life ministry Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCI), wrote the PFL statement that highlights the facts that international law recognizes the need to protect the child from the moment of conception and that nearly every country in the world bans the death penalty for pregnant women, thereby protecting the life of the innocent child in the womb. Father Pavone supported the statement declaring, “Abortion denies life to the preborn child; it is an act of injustice. Laws against abortion recognize the need to protect both the vulnerable child and his or her mother from the destruction of abortion. They should be upheld as just and humane laws that recognize the innate dignity of every life.”

Read the full text of the Priests for Life statement.

December 13, 2012

Priests for Life at the UN—Prevention and Elimination of Violence Against Girls and Women

Priests for Life, as a registered Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council, is participating in a two day forum of interested parties at the United Nations in New York, to highlight the areas where women and girls are the victims of violence and what actions need to be taken to both prevent and eliminate such violence.

Priests for Life has submitted a statement to the CSW by Father Frank Pavone that highlights the violence of sex selection abortion and forced abortion as well as the violence inherent in any abortion act. Father Pavone states, “Abortion by its very nature is an act of violence directed at the preborn child, but it also harms, exploits and degrades women.” He addresses the global issue of violence against girls, “Sustainable elimination of violence against women and girls must begin where the violence begins - in the womb. Sex selection abortion is the ultimate act of discrimination against girls - a baby girl is identified in utero and her life ended simply because she is a baby girl.”

PFL will be sending a delegation to the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women and will work with other organizations to raise the issue of abortion as violence against women and girls. As Father Pavone stated in the conclusion of the PFL statement, “True equality for girls with boys begins when both are welcomed in the womb and at birth, and protected in law. Women need to be valued as equals to men and recognized and respected for their unique capacity to bear children and give birth. Their lives should be free of violence and they should be assisted in their critical role of mothers. The future of each and every country depends on healthy women and girls.”

Read the full text of the Priests for Life statement

September 20, 2012

Fr. Pavone said he was pleased by the very positive dialogue that took place in Rome during the PFL sponsored event for NGOs hosted by the Pontifical Council for the Family and relevant offices of the Secretariat of State of the Holy See. Priests for Life was pleased back in July to announce to all its supporters that it was sponsoring and promoting a three-day training course in Rome September 13-15 for Catholic-Inspired NGOs. The event gathered speakers and participants for training and networking and had at its heart the promotion and defense of the rights and dignity of human life and featured contributions from leading international scholars.

Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said" "We were truly honored to collaborate in this important initiative and invite all to join us in prayer for God's blessing upon the conference participants as they continue the necessary task of bringing to the world the message of the Gospel of Life."

Priests for Life is the nation's largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit www.priestsforlife.org.

May 2, 2012

Father Pavone expressed support for the statement by the Holy See Mission emphasizing the importance of parents and family in matters pertaining to adolescents and youth at the 45th session of the Conference on Population and Development. Father Pavone agreed that “The family is the original nucleus of society, the primordial foundation of social ties and the locus where the relations of tomorrow--nuptial, parental, filial, fraternal--are cultivated.” Additionally, Father Pavone supported the Holy See statement affirming the family— “the singular and irreplaceable value of the family founded upon matrimony and the inviolability of human life from conception until natural death must be affirmed.”

Delegates to the meeting negotiated for seven days on issues pertaining to youth from ages 10 to 24 and included discussion and disagreements on abortion, parental rights and responsibilities, and national laws on abortion. The Holy See voiced strong opposition to the use of any term that could promote abortion including “reproductive health services”, “reproductive rights”, and “comprehensive sexuality education”.

At the conclusion of the meeting Father Pavone stated “It is encouraging to see countries that support the dignity of life for children in the womb raising their voices to object to efforts to advance the death of vulnerable unborn children in the name of development. May more countries find the courage to speak up at UN venues to affirm the lives of children, mothers and the family. Children are the most precious resource of any country and their lives need to be affirmed and protected by all.”

April 22, 2012

PFL is on the scene as the UN’s Commission on Population and Development (CPD) is kicking off its forty-fifth session in New York this week with a week-long meeting on the theme “Adolescents and Youth” with an emphasis on reproductive health and rights, terms defined by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to include abortion. The very terms "adolescents and youth" are also not clearly defined and can include youth from ages 10-24.

The CPD’s draft resolution for the meeting includes a strong push by some governments to promote access to “safe abortion” under the auspice of sexual and reproductive health for youth. A coalition of European governments--Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom-- have broken from the European country group and organized under the title the “Likeminded Group” to promote this radical agenda along with the United States and various other developed countries.

Fr. Frank Pavone reacts, "This focus is very timely, as the rising generation of youth is expected to be the largest in history as the birth rate plummets around the world. Young people deserve special attention but programs and policies for adolescents must not include the death of the youngest members of the human family--children in the womb. The human dignity of all members of the human family must be upheld and programs developed to help young people reach adulthood with the skills needed to lead productive lives and the values instilled to respect and affirm the right to life from conception to natural death."

February 8, 2012 – Fr. Pavone receives international support for his written statement to the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women which is preparing to meet in NY February 27 to March 9, 2012. The following NGOs have already lent their support:

Institute for Family Policy (IPF)
International Association of Charities (IAC)
International Solidarity and Human Rights Institute (ISHR)
Society of Catholic Social Scientists (SCSS)
World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations (WUCWO)

The theme of the conference is “The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges”. Fr. Pavone’s statement is available here. Priests for Life UN delegates will be participating in the upcoming conference and working with a coalition to help protect the true interests of women throughout the world. More information on the conference is available on the UN site.

February 7, 2012 – Fr. Pavone is pleased to join other international NGOs in co-sponsoring a side event at the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women meeting in NY February 27 to March 9, 2012. The event is entitled “Fighting Maternal Discrimination: A New Challenge for the XXI Century”. The event takes place 6 March 2012 at 6:15pm at the Boss Room, 8th Floor at the CCUN building and is being organized by the Institute for Family Policy (IPF). The IFP states that:

"If the twentieth century marked the emergence of women in the workplace, the challenge of the XXI century will be the recognition of their rights as women and mothers at work"

The past century has seen women's access to employment, thus contributing to economic development and growth of western societies. Women are no longer spectators of the political, economic, social and cultural changes, but have decided to take part in all the areas that make up society. The contribution of the feminine genius to the world of finance, politics, businesses, industries, culture, NGOs, development cooperation ... is certainly positive, but we must not forget the sacrifices that they had to perform in a world which has been eminently male. Sacrifices that have brought about a rupture with a sphere no less import ant than the former: the family. The same need for justice that demanded the participation of women in decision-making emerges today to recognize them not only as working women but also as working mothers.

XXI century rulers should take steps to achieve harmonization of work organization and legislation with the rights of working mothers. Measures to enable women to develop their career choice without being forced to delay motherhood or even to give it up in order to avoid tensions in the workplace. We must defend the right of mothers to choose whether or not they want to work outside home without detrimental to family life and without being discriminated in the workplace. This will provide personal balance, family harmony and ultimately fulfillment of the right of women to a comprehensive personal development in all facets of their lives.

More information on the conference is available on the UN site.

February 6, 2012

Fr. Pavone endorsed an oral statement to the UN’s 50th Commission on Social Development prepared by Marie Smith, Director of PNCI, one of PFL’s senior representatives at the United Nations. The Commission on Social Development is meeting in NY February 1 to 10, 2012 and the priority theme this year is "Poverty Eradication". Marie Smith said that:

Priests for Life applauds the focus of the Fiftieth Session of the Commission for Social Development on Poverty Eradication and affirms the need to assist and protect the family. The family is the foundation of society; no social construct can replace or take its place. All individuals who compose the family are at the center of development as recognized by the General Assembly in the Declaration on the Right to Development (A/Res/41/128), “…that the human person is the central subject of the development process and that development policy should therefore make the human being the main participant and beneficiary of development.”

Regrettably, far too often the reverse is the operative policy, and in the name of “development” people are considered expendable. Authentic development includes all members of the family in policies and programs and supports the family when it is suffering from economic and social hardship and deprivation.

The full statement is available here. Priests for Life UN delegates will be participating in the upcoming conference and working with various coalitions to help protect the true interests of women worldwide. More information on the conference is available on the UN site.

December 13, 2011

Fr. Pavone issued a statement to the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women which is preparing to meet in NY February 27 to March 9, 2012. The theme of the conference is “The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges”. Fr. Pavone stated that:

“Health care in any form, including maternal health or reproductive health, that includes access to abortion is not health care. Abortion ends the life of one patient and may injure the other physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. True women’s rights and freedom will never exist until women’s reproductive capacity is valued and their children are cherished by the men who father them.”

The full statement is available here. Priests for Life UN delegates will be participating in the upcoming conference and working with a coalition to help protect the true interests of women throughout the world. More information on the conference is available on the UN site.

September 16, 2011

Father Frank Pavone commends Archbishop Tomasi for his strong defense of life at the United Nations in Geneva

Father Frank Pavone commends Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Specialized Agencies in Geneva, for his strong defense of life during the 18th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC). Archbishop Tomasi responded to the presentation of a radical report on maternal health by the UN’s top human rights official, High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay, that promotes abortion in the strongest terms and cites data, arguments and documents from pro-abortion organizations including IPPF and the Center for Reproductive Rights. The report, Practices in adopting a human rights-based approach to eliminate preventable maternal mortality and human rights (A/HRC/18/27) advances the legalization of abortion as necessary to reduce maternal mortality and as essential in the context of human rights and urges countries to overturn pro-life laws.

Archbishop Tomasi, as head of the Holy See delegation, spoke of the need to reduce the 350,000 maternal deaths that occur each year and improve the lives of women. He took exception to the abortion and family planning sections of the report stating, “We believe, moreover, that abortion, which destroys existing human life,… is never an acceptable method of family planning, as was recognized by consensus at the Mexico City United Nations International Conference on Population (1984). Thus we find it totally unacceptable for so-called “safe abortion” to be promoted by the Report being discussed during the current Session of the Human Rights Council or, perhaps even more significantly, by the United National Global Strategy for Women’s and Children Health, launched by the UN Secretary General in September 2010.”

The Archbishop cited evidence-based data from the World Health Organization (WHO) that demonstrates women in Africa “die primarily from five major causes: hypertensive diseases, obstructed labour, haemorrhage, sepsis and infection, and HIV-related diseases.” He condemned efforts to divert funding for health care to programs for abortion and contraception and concluded: “… the Holy See Delegation expresses the firm hope that the international community will succeed in reducing maternal morbidity and mortality by promoting effective interventions that are based on deep and abiding values as well as on scientific and medical knowledge and that are respectful of the sacredness of life from conception to natural death, for “[t]he presence of a mother within the family is so important for the stability and growth of this fundamental cell of society, that it should be recognized, commended and supported in every possible way.”

Father Pavone commends Archbishop Tomasi for his statement, “Archbishop Tomasi’s strong defense of life is much needed at the United Nations, especially at the Human Rights Council as we see increased pro-abortion activity to distort God-given human rights to advance the death of children in the womb. As a registered non-governmental organization (NGO), Priests for Life has been advancing life-affirming solutions to save the lives of both mothers and children at the United Nations. The archbishop’s clear articulation of support for the lives and livelihoods of mothers while opposing the death of their precious children through abortion exemplifies the focus of the international pro-life movement to “love them both” and to provide women with the resources they need to choose life for their child.”

Click here for photos

July 25, 2011 – Fr. Pavone applauds youth prolife leaders at Holy See Mission Official Side-Event and 57,000 Young People Send a Protest Message, all this to help kick-off the United Nations High-level Meeting on Youth July 25-26

As part of the International Year of Youth, the UN General Assembly is holding a High Level meeting this week with its overarching theme “Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”. The world event is made up of two consecutive informal interactive thematic panel discussions addressing the following themes:

1. Strengthening international cooperation regarding youth and enhancing dialogue, mutual understanding and active youth participation as indispensable elements towards achieving social integration, full employment and the eradication of poverty;

2. Challenges to youth development and opportunities for poverty eradication, employment and sustainable development.

At the end of the High Level Meeting, Member States will adopt an outcome document that is currently being negotiated between Member States during informal consultations. Before the start of the negotiation process between Member States, Youth-led organizations had been invited to submit their inputs for the outcome document. The UN Program on Youth had received inputs from 89 youth organizations, representing young people all over the globe. For more info on High-Level Youth Meeting Click Here

Fr. Pavone applauds youth prolife leaders at Holy See Mission Official Side-Event pointing out that “our youth are not simply the “future leaders” of the pro-life movement. They are leaders here and now, in more ways than one.” None give greater evidence of this than the young people the Holy See Mission gathered for their Official Side-Event entitled Youth Protecting and Promoting Human Dignity. H.E. Archbishop Francis Chullikatt Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations made opening remarks and introduced five young speakers who discussed how they and their organizations protect and promote human dignity.

Kristan Hawkins, the Executive Director of Students for Life of America, will speak about her work promoting a culture of life on college campuses around the United States.

Leah Darrow, former America’s Next Top Model contestant, will speak about her own experience discovering the virtue of modesty and the value of chastity in a western culture that idolizes appearances and pleasure.

Meghan Knighton, a development officer at the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, will speak about CNEWA’s work highlighting the work of upholding human dignity that CNEWA undertakes, including providing emergency shelter and medical care, micro-credit programs, and charitable service of the sick and disabled.

Jeffrey Azize and Michael Campo, actor and actor/producer respectively of the critically-acclaimed documentary “The Human Experience,” will speak about their experiences traveling the world, and how they learned from others – homeless in New York City, abandoned children in Peru, and lepers of rural Ghana- what it means to be human.

For more info go to Holy See Mission

C-FAM reported that 57,000 Young People sent a Protest Message and presented a statement signed by 120,000. “We do not agree with much of the document produced by governments for the High Level Meeting on youth,” says Tyler Ament, Director of the International Youth Coalition. “We also do not agree with the messages being put out by UN agencies like sex rights for young people and other objectionable ideas.”

Ament and his colleagues presented a Youth Statement to the UN and the World that has been signed by 120,000 people including 57,000 under the age of 30. “The Youth Statement recognizes the rights of parents and calls for policy makers to return to basics and get away from dangerous ideas that are harmful to young people,” says Ament.

The International Youth Coalition is a group of young people from around the world that celebrates the fact that humans are made in the image of God, intrinsically relational, and are called to live a life with purpose and meaning. Click for more info on C-FAM and the International Youth Coalition.

June 11, 2011 – The United Nations held a General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AIDS June 8 -10 in NY. Member States came together ten years after the adoption of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and five years after the adoption of the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, to review progress and chart the future course of the global AIDS. The Holy See Mission was actively involved in the assembly meeting and Professor Jane Adolphe, Associate Professor of Law at Ave Maria School of Law and a member of the Holy See Delegation, stated that the Holy See “delegation remains committed to achieving the goal of halting and reversing the spread of HIV by promoting the only universally effective, safe and affordable means of halting the spread of the disease: abstinence before marriage and mutual fidelity within marriage, avoiding risk taking and irresponsible behaviors and promoting universal access to drugs which prevent the spread of HIV from mother-to-child”. For the full Holy See statement please click here.  For more information from the UN on the High-Level Meeting on AIDS click here.

June 9, 2011 – The Holy See Mission’s Path to Peace Gala Dinner drew record attendance at the New York Athletic Club. Fr. Frank Pavone was again pleased to support the important work of the Path to Peace Foundation this year by sending Bob Lalonde, Priests for Life’s representative to the UN to the event. The Path to Peace Foundation was established by Cardinal Renato Martino, former Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, to support the activities of the Holy See Mission. Archbishop Chullikatt, the current Permanent Observer and Cardinal Martino enthralled the capacity crowd with stories of their personal visits with Pope John Paul II. Please click here to view pictures and press release

April 13, 2011 – With the United Nations 44th Commission on Population and Development in full swing promoting a theme of “Fertility, reproductive health, and development” Fr. Frank Pavone wholeheartedly came out in support of yesterday’s statement by H.E. Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See “in favor of the adoption of policies which encourage marriages that are open to and welcome children, and which also provide families the necessary assistance in bearing and rearing children, including those with large families”. The Apostolic Nuncio cautioned that “there is a “distorted world-view [that] regards the poor as a problem to be commoditized and managed as if they were inconsequential objects rather than as unique persons with innate dignity and worth who require the full commitment of the international community to provide assistance so that they can realize their full potential”. For the full statement read here.

Priests for Life is an accredited Non Governmental Organization and its delegation is actively participating in the 44th Commission on Population and Development taking place April 11-15. This year’s theme is “Fertility, reproductive health, and development.” More on the conference here.

April 7, 2011 - Priests for Life participated in the Holy See’s kick-off side event marking the start of the 44th Session of the Commission on Population and Development at the United Nations in NY with a panel discussion on Secure Human Development: Marriage, Family, Community. H.E. Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations gave the opening remarks reaffirming Church teaching that “…for integral human development to take place, we must put people first. We must respect the inherent dignity of each and every person, and we must recognize that the true measure of authentic development in any society is how much it protects, respects and promotes all human life including the unborn, the disabled, the elderly, and all who are suffering.” Full statement here (pdf).

Expert panelists included Yuri Mantilla, L.L.M., Director of International Government Affairs for Focus on the Family who addressed the important topic of “The Right to Life and Development: A Latin American Perspective”. Yuri was followed by Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D., Vice President of Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute who dealt with the strategic importance of "Demography and Development: How Falling Fertility Affects Global Security" and Wendy Wright, President, Concerned Women for America “Human Sexuality, Marriage, and Family from a Woman’s Perspective.”

March 3, 2011 – Priests for Life statement to the Commission on the Status of Women's panel on Elimination of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and the empowerment of women.

Progress is being made in eliminating maternal mortality and morbidity, but the lives of women continue to be jeopardized by a lack of access to health care. As the UN advances a new integrated approach to health care, Priests for Life recognizes the critical role of faith based organizations and urges respect and protection of the right of conscience.

The World Health Organization estimates that faith based organizations provide as much as well over half of all health care services in countries in Africa. Faith based organizations are critical partners in the global effort to eliminate maternal mortality and their continued delivery of maternal health care must be ensured. Attempts to impose induced abortion and other programs that conflict with religious values and beliefs interferes with fundamental rights and will detrimentally impact faith based organizations. The protection of rights of conscience, belief and religion, are enshrined in all international treaties and bodies, beginning with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Belief in the sanctity of life and respect for the dignity for all human beings - regardless of condition of dependency or disability or stage of development - is the foundation that inspires and motivates most organizations based on faith to deliver compassionate and competent health care. Evidence shows that the provision of basic life-affirming maternal health care - which necessarily excludes abortion - enables greater reduction in maternal deaths and thus better protection of women and children.

The intrinsic dignity of life is also the foundation of human rights. Our commitment to human rights springs from our commitment to the protection, affirmation, and defense of all human persons – those born and those residing in the womb –as the Convention on the Rights of Child explicitly reminds us. The provision of health care services that respect and affirm the dignity of each and every human being are essential to continued progress in reducing both maternal and child mortality. Nearly nine million children - including 4 million newborns - die each year from preventable causes. Efforts to save and promote the dignity and well-being of women must also save and protect all children’s lives, both in and out of the womb. Life at all stages of the life cycle must be valued and respected.

International organizations which perform illegal abortions, which advise women on how to procure illegal abortions and which advocate for the overturning of national laws on abortion are irreconcilable with the United Nations, which exists to affirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person.

It is our hope that the new Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health will result in greater transparency and accountability, will truly assist women to successfully and safely complete their pregnancies and will ensure respect for sovereign laws which protect the lives of vulnerable children in the womb.

Click here for pictures.

March 2 – 2011 - Holy See Representative Professor Jane Adolphe addresses Women’s issues at CSW saying “The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child”, she stated that “all States must enact and enforce legislation to protect girls from all forms of violence and exploitation, from conception onwards, including abortion, especially sex-selective abortion, female infanticide.” Full statement here. 

February 28, 2011 - Fr. Pavone dispatches representatives to UN Commission on the Status of Women to make the point that “the lives of women need to be valued and respected. Priests for Life, a registered non-governmental organization (NGO) at the United Nations (UN) since 2003, is actively taking part in the fifty-fifth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) currently underway at the UN Headquarters in New York City. CSW is a yearly meeting of representatives of the 192 UN Member States who gather to discuss issues related to women’s equality and advancement. Following the session, CSW submits recommendations to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Regrettably, many have often used CSW to advance the pro-abortion agenda, especially in the areas of women’s health, equality and empowerment.

This theme of this year’s session is the “access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work”. Janet Morana, Executive Director for Priests for Life and representative to the UN, submitted a statement to CSW which highlighted the fact that “the lives of women need to be valued and respected,” particularly with respect to their ability to bear children.

The PFL statement called for the availability of education and employment for pregnant women and girls: “Woman-centered initiatives for empowerment which include abortion are unacceptable and distract from meeting the real needs of women. Our energies must focus on the daily struggles women face not only in accessing education and employment but also to ensure: access to clean water and adequate nutrition, access to life-affirming health care, the provision of skilled birth attendants and emergency obstetric care, protection of children, aid to those suffering from HIV/AIDS, support for victims of violence, the rescuing of women trapped in trafficking, laws to allow women to own and inherit land, and enforcement of child support laws.”

Bob Lalonde, International Director and PFL UN representative, took part in a related CSW Holy See side event on February 24 entitled "Women's reproductive health as a gender, development and human rights issue: regaining perspective”. The event, which was presided over by Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN, was standing-room only. The session was moderated by the Deputy Permanent Representative of St. Lucia to the UN, Sarah Flood- Beaubrun, and included an expert panel that addressed issues of women’s health from pro-woman pro-life perspective.

Additionally, PFL UN representative Marie Smith, Founder and Director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues, a global outreach of Gospel of Life Ministries/Priests for Life, was selected to participate in an official CSW event on maternal mortality —Interactive Panel 5, “Elimination of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and the empowerment of women.” This event takes place on March 1 from 3:00pm to 6:00pm. CSW session runs through March 4th.

February 16, 2011 - Fr. Frank Pavone dispatched PFL’s UN Delegate Bob Lalonde to participate, as an observer, to the forty-ninth session of the Commission for Social Development taking place at the United Nations in New York February 9 to 18 and help defend the rights of the unborn, “the poorest of the poor”. PFL strongly supports the statement made by Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations “that “the deepest needs of the human person” go far beyond food, water and shelter. Authentic social development hinges on respect for the dignity of each human person.” The Holy See’s delegate to the conference added “The Holy See delegate cited “the procreative and educational mission of parents” and the consequent psychological and spiritual benefits enjoyed by children who grow up in a healthy family. “The institution of the family, which is a sine qua non for preparing the future generation, is being challenged by many factors in the modern world and the family needs to be defended and safeguarded.” The Holy See’s full statement can be found on its website.

The Commission on Social Development is a subsidiary body of the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) which meets on an annual basis. The priority theme for thus year’s 49th Session of the Commission on Social Development (CSocD) is poverty eradication. The Commission reports that “since the World Summit for Social Development, in 1995, poverty eradication has become the overarching objective of development. Despite the crisis, the world is still on track to halve the proportion of the population living on less than $1.25 a day by 2015.... Close to 900 million people will still be living in extreme poverty by 2015, even if the global target is reached.” More information on the Commission and the conference can be found on its website.

November 11, 2010 - Janet Morana, Executive Director, Priests for Life registered a written statement with the fifty-fifth session of the Commission on the Status of Women to be held February 22 to March 4 2011 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The statement is below:

We would like to thank the Commission on the Status of Women for focusing on the critical areas which impact women’s lives around the world and recognize that advancements in the basic areas of education, job training and access to technology are ways to improve the impoverished lives of women. Employment helps women to improve their lives and rise from poverty. The astounding success of micro-credit loans across the developing world amply illustrates the benefits of giving women the chance to use their skills and economic empowerment results from access to vocational training and job opportunities.

A woman who has a source of income is able to put food on the table, educate her children and afford health care. She receives respect from others in the community who look to her for leadership resulting in political involvement and opportunities to help others in her community and beyond. It is the currently accepted wisdom across the spectrum of ideologies that when women and girls have access to education, it is not only their lives that improve, but the lives of their children and community. Education needs to be available to all girls and women to reduce the unacceptably high female illiteracy rate. Education not only empowers women with reading, writing skills and math skills but results in self-confidence and empowerment which helps women assume leadership roles in their communities. Education provides the most effective path out of poverty.

Women who receive educational opportunities are healthier and their children are healthier. Educated women have healthier pregnancies and safer deliveries resulting in healthier newborns and in reductions in both maternal and child mortality. Educated women are able to make better decisions for themselves and their children. The areas of education and employment are critical to improving lives and programs in these areas must provide for the unique child-bearing capacity of women. Pregnant girls must be allowed to receive an education and pregnant women must not be threatened with job loss. Women must be allowed to fulfill their innate capacity to bear children without penalty.

Abortion is not an acceptable solution to meeting the educational and employment needs of women. The destruction of a woman’s child through the violence of the abortion act does not result in true empowerment. Rather, any so-called “reproductive freedom” gained through abortion only anesthetizes and deadens the nurturing souls of women, forcing them to accept oppression of their procreative lives. Abortion does little to affirm the dignity of women – instead it separates their sexuality from the intrinsic act of procreation and reduces them to mere machines to satisfy male pleasure, with no connection to the emotional and spiritual forces that are intrinsic to women’s identity.

Abortion can be emotionally crippling. Increasingly, women who suffer the repercussions of abortion often describe it as violent and brutal. There is grief, sadness, shame and anger. They resort to self-destructive behaviors and numb themselves with alcohol and drugs. Some re-enact their trauma through promiscuity and repeat abortions, trapped in a cycle of abandonment, rejection, a sense of helplessness, and abuse. The Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, recently revealed that 50 percent of all women who have an abortion will go on to have another. Others attempt to repress their feelings through eating disorders, depression, anxiety and attempted suicide.

True women’s rights and freedom will never exist until women’s reproductive capacity is valued and their children are cherished by society and the men who father them. Violence against women will never end until society recognizes the benefits of fashioning life, instead of insisting upon its necessary destruction. Health care in any form, including maternal health or reproductive health, that includes access to abortion is not really health care at all. Abortion ends the life of one patient and may injure the other physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

The dualistic rhetoric of abortion rights splits mind from body, sexuality from procreation, pleasure from loving passion, and mother from child. Health care that includes abortion threatens women and their children with violence and abandonment. Abortion on demand has created a mindset that killing is the solution to unwanted responsibility – not just for the baby, but for the woman who won’t exercise her “freedom of choice”. Men who refuse to accept their responsibility are enabled by abortion to abandon women and treat them with disrespect and contempt often leading to acts of violence and abuse.

Gender violence plagues the lives of women around the world as far too many women suffer abuse and violence on a daily basis. Cultural practices which de-value the life of the girl-child and deny her an education must be stopped. Employment practices which discriminate against women must end. Initiatives which seek to deny or destroy the inherent procreative ability of women do not advance or empower women. Rather, programs which include access to abortion treat women’s unique capabilities as a problem rather than recognizing the universally valued role of women as the bearers of a country’s future, its children.

Woman-centered initiatives for empowerment which include abortion are unacceptable and distract from meeting the real needs of women. Our energies must focus on the daily struggles women face not only in accessing education and employment but also to ensure: access to clean water and adequate nutrition, access to life-affirming health care, the provision of skilled birth attendants and emergency obstetric care, protection of children, aid to those suffering from HIV/AIDS, support for victims of violence, the rescuing of women trapped in trafficking, laws to allow women to own and inherit land, and enforcement of child support laws.

Progress in these areas would do infinitely more for women than insisting on universal access to abortion. The lives of women need to be valued and respected. Women should not have to deny their feminine nature, be made to feel second class to men, or be penalized for their unique procreative capacity. Women should be affirmed for their female nature; their lives should be respected throughout the life cycle and they should be assisted in the critical role of mother. Education and employment should be available to women and girls while affirming and providing for—and not penalizing—their unique role and capacity.

October 20, 2010 – Reception for Archbishop Francis Chullikatt Apostolic Nuncio to the United Nations, was hosted by Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) and Focus on the Family and Fr. Frank Pavone sent Bob Lalonde, Priests for Life UN Delegate to represent Priests for Life. Archbishop Chullikatt was appointed by the Holy Father on July 17 and arrived in New York in September. C-FAM commented “The prolife community is so pleased Archbishop Chullikatt has been chosen by Pope Benedict XVI to head Holy See diplomatic efforts at the United Nations. Archbishop Chullikatt comes to us from Iraq where for many years he served heroically as Apostolic Nuncio to that war torn country”.

September 28, 2010 - Cardinal Renato Martino, former Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations (1986 to 2002) and President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace paid a visit to Fr. Frank Pavone and the pastoral team at PFL’s Headquarters. To read more about his important visit please see On The Frontlines.

May 19, 2010 - Fr. Frank Pavone sent PFL UN Delegate Bob Lalonde as an observer to the UN’s Sixty-third session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva. At this session, the Health Assembly discussed a number of public health issues, including monitoring of the achievement of the health-related Millennium Development Goals. Bob also met with Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Apostolic Nuncio to the UN in Geneva.

March 8, 2010 - Dr. Alveda King addressed the United Nations on the topic of Motherhood on the occasion of International Woman's Day. Dr King spoke to a full assembly and said “No matter what great accomplishments women achieve, there simply is no more important role for us than motherhood—loving, nurturing, and raising the next generation. To ensure a brighter tomorrow, we must affirm and support motherhood in whatever policies or programs we devise.” For Dr. King’s complete statement and pictures of the event please see On The Frontlines.

September 2, 2009 - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations received PFL Associate Director Fr. Denis Wilde, OSA, and Special Advisor to the Director, Bob Lalonde at the Mission in mid-town Manhattan. The three met for an hour to explore channels of collaboration between Priests for Life and the Holy See's chief executive to the international body in matters relating to the dignity and defense of human life. See a picture of the meeting at On The Frontlines.

June 9, 2009 - Priests for Life Participates in Successful gathering of over 400 at the Vatican sponsored UN Path to Peace Foundation –

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and President of the Path to Peace Foundation presided over the gathering of over 400 world leaders at its 17th Path to Peace Award. Cardinal Renato R. Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and former head of the Path to Peace Foundation was also in attendance. A posthumous award was given to Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho from Iraq who was kidnapped in Mosul and later killed. Fox commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano also received the Servitor Pacis Award and made remarks about the importance of defending sacred life in the womb.

Bob Lalonde and Michele Velasco, who assist Fr. Pavone in directing the international growth of Priests for Life, were present at the event. Click here for photos

March 2009 - Status of Woman (CSW) The Obama administration was pushing its “sexual and reproductive health” agenda at the United Nation’s Annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) March 2- 13 in New York. (See C-FAM’s article.) As usual, C-FAM and its allies played an important role educating participants on the sanctity of life in the deliberations. PFL was present for some of the deliberations and helped sponsor lunches for the courageous army of 50 students from Ave Maria Law School, St. Thomas Moore Law School, Christendom College and Overbrook Academy.

February 2008 - Status of Woman (CSW) –While Priests for Life works within the United Nations, our ministries raise awareness about abortion’s negative impact outside UN meetings. During the United Nations’ February 2008 Commission on the Status of Women Conference, "Financing For Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women", our Silent No More Awareness Campaign held an event near UN headquarters. Many women held signs “I regret my abortion” for UN delegates to witness and spoke publicly about the emotional and physical pain inflicted by abortion.

Important Statements from the UN Social, Humanitarian & Cultural Committee

Typically referred to as the Third Committee, the Social, Humanitarian & Cultural Committee has been meeting throughout October 2008 at the UN in New York. PFL was there to support C-FAM and other international pro life groups such as SPUC (Society for the Protection of the Unborn) actively participating and reporting on all the events.

Read C-FAM’s report and the two important life affirming statements from the ambassadors of Malta and Fiji.

LEARN MORE

To learn more about the role of NGOs, visit the official website for the United Nations - Department of Economic and Social Affairs - NGO Section. Also available is a calendar of meetings and events.

The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See To the United Nations website offers background on the Holy See’s involvement at the UN, statements from the Secretariat of State of the Holy See, position papers, and magisterial texts on the Catholic Church’s social agenda.

Additionally, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) is an organization dedicated to the research and dissemination of information related to United Nations activities and publications to the broader society, including the media. Read about their activities, and receive their weekly update.

Click here to read Fr. Frank’s column on The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948-2008 marking the occasion of its 60th anniversary.

Also read the Press Release: The United Nations Grants Priests for Life NGO Status 

 

Priests for Life
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