The recent statement made by a group calling itself "Catholic for a Free
Choice" urging the United Nations to withdraw the Holy See’s permanent observer
status is an empty gesture which typifies the work of that organization. It is
intended to grab media attention but is otherwise without meaning.
The Knights of Columbus, with 1.6 million members, along with the families of
those members, in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Philippines and several
other countries, is a nongovernmental organization associated with the United
The Knights of Columbus is well aware of the indispensable, valuable and
constructive role that the Holy See plays in the work of the United Nations.
"Catholics for a Free Choice" is not Catholic in any recognizable sense of
the word. This point was made forcefully a few years ago by the Catholic
Bishops’ Conference of the United States. It represents no one and no real
issues. The organization’s virtually nonexistent membership seeks support for a
pro-abortion, anti-family agenda. The only activity that it undertakes is
issuing antagonistic statements, from time to time, in hopes of embarrassing the
Catholic Church while calling attention to itself.
The recent demand by "Catholics for a Free Choice" simply illustrates, once
again, its own irrelevance and ignorance. Before launching into an insensitive
campaign of hatred against the Catholic Church and its role in the international
community, "Catholics for a Free Choice" should at least have considered the
important activities that the Holy See has undertaken, through the centuries, in
the field of diplomacy. Note also should have been taken of the fact that the
Holy See presently maintains diplomatic relations with more than 168 countries
of the world.
The reason that the Holy See has not become a full member of the United
Nations should be seen in its resolve to maintain the noble role of neutrality,
and not in the absence of international legal status. This point is never
questioned except by groups like "Catholics for a Free Choice."
Needless to say, the Holy See’s present role is much appreciated by the
international community while its moral and spiritual authority is well
respected. This was evident in the historic visits of Popes Paul VI and John
Paul II to the U.N. Headquarters and their memorable addresses to the General
A great number of Member States of the United Nations will not fail to
recognize the important and gentle service the Holy See, through its Permanent
Observer Mission in New York, has rendered and continues to render, in a
multitude of ways, to the international community.
The refusal of "Catholics for a Free Choice" to accept the truth and the
teaching of the Catholic Church on certain moral issues cannot justify it to
resort to meaningless and vindictive attack campaigns devoid of any historical
Along with millions of truth-loving people in the world, we reiterate our
conviction that the Holy See is an esteemed part of the U.N. community and must
We respectfully request Your Excellency’s concurrence with this view.
April 16, 1999