Vatican's Role at UN Unanimously Endorsed by General Assembly

     (NEW YORK - C-FAM) In a development that is sure to distress pro-abortion groups such as "Catholics" for a Free Choice (CFFC), the General Assembly (GA) of the United Nations last week decided unanimously to confirm and expand the status of the Vatican at the United Nations. CFFC and its allies, including International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and Marie Stopes International, have been engaged in a multi-year campaign to have the Vatican ousted from the UN, a campaign that now seems dead and buried.

     The GA document adopted last week was the first major clarification of the prerogatives of the Vatican as a "permanent observer state," which has held this status at the UN since 1964. Not only did the General Assembly endorse the long-standing role of the Vatican, it decided to grant it new privileges, "in order to enable the Holy See to participate in a more constructive way in the Assembly's activities," according to a UN press release.

     Perhaps most importantly, the Holy See will now possess the right to participate in the general debate of the GA, the right to circulate documents and the right to reply in debates. One diplomat told the Friday Fax that the Holy See's status could now be likened to a "full member state, just without the vote."

     According to Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's Permanent Observer to the UN, the Holy See sought this enhanced Observer status so that it could remain neutral, asserting that, "We have no vote because this is our choice." At the same time, Archbishop Migliore emphasized that the decision "is a fundamental step that does not close any path for the future. The Holy See has the requirements defined by the UN statute to be a member state and, if in the future it wished to be so, this resolution would not impede it from requesting it."

     No country dissented to the GA decision. The GA President Julian Robert Hunte, Saint Lucia's Minister for External Affairs, took a personal interest in the Holy See's draft resolution, and introduced the document to the GA as his own text, which represents a highly unusual show of support.

     After the decision, Archbishop Migliore proclaimed that it "marked an important step forward, and reflects the lofty values and collective interests shared by the Holy See and the United Nations. We are committed to the same objectives that necessitate the protection of fundamental human rights, the preservation of the dignity and worth of the human person and the promotion of the common good." He concluded that he looked forward to "an ordered international community built upon the strong edifice of law - a law not of whim and caprice but of principles stemming from the very universality of human nature."

     The GA decision appears to represent a significant fundraising setback for CFFC. CFFC president Frances Kissling, who usually seeks out the media spotlight, has yet to comment publicly on the decision. The "See Change Campaign" for the Vatican's removal, however, remains prominently displayed on the CFFC website

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