Holy See to U.N.: Sustainable Development Must Be Based on Respect for Life
Friday, October 28, 2016

On the one year anniversary of the United Nations’ adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Holy See elaborated its view of the principles in the outcome document “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and repeatedly expressed support for the lives of unborn children and of right to life from conception to natural death.

In the Note of the Holy See on the First Anniversary of the Adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Holy See, in regards to the first general principle “Understanding integral human development”, warned of the need to recognize “a moral law that is written into human nature itself, one which includes absolute respect for life in all its stages and dimensions and the natural difference between man and woman.”

The Holy See Mission to the United Nations in New York explained the purpose of the Note in a statement that included: the Holy See wished to consider certain general principles in evaluating the 2030 Agenda and in interpreting and implementing it at the national and international levels. It laid out the key points of Pope Francis’ 25 September 2015 Address to the United Nations and considered the 2030 Agenda in light of those and other principles.”

The Holy See reinforced that it was agreed that the 2030 Agenda was to be interpreted according to “international law” with a “proper interpretation” in accordance with “consolidated and recognized principles” and that ‘goals, targets and eventual indicators should not be considered in isolation from the Agenda”. This point stands in stark contrast to the work of UN treaty monitoring bodies, IPPF, Amnesty International, the Center for Reproductive Rights and others that promote the falsehood that access to abortion is an international human right despite the fact that no UN treaty recognizes a so-called ‘right to abortion’.

The concept of the common good, in addition to principles of solidarity, subsidiary, national sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of States were mentioned as  necessary guides.

Also highlighted was the fact that the Holy See had made clarifications and reservations on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets that include the terms “reproductive health” and “sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights”:

“The Holy See rejects the interpretation that considers abortion or access  to abortion, maternal surrogacy or sex-selective abortion, and sterilization as dimensions of these terms.”

In regards to goals on health, the Holy See exhorted:

The term “healthy life” is to be understood to mean the health of the person as a whole —including the most vulnerable, the unborn, the sick, the disabled —during all stages of development of the life of the person, taking into consideration every dimension (physical, psychological, spiritual and emotional).

Since the right to health is a corollary to the right to life, it can never be used as a  way to end the life of a person, who is such from conception until natural death. The same is true for targets 3.7 and 5.6. In brief, target 3.7 advocates “universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes” while target 5.6 calls for “universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights”.

Women were acknowledged for their special role in the family and society and to integral human development. The Holy See’s statement included:

          (a) This is due to their unique presence in the creation of life as physical and spiritual mothers, who have special, but not exclusive gifts,that include defending, nurturing, and caring for life, from conception until natural death.

          (b) It follows that women must be promoted and given the means to realize their inherent dignity as feminine persons and protected from psychological and physical violence, through all forms of abortion, including female feticide and female infanticide, so that they can contribute their gifts in all contexts of society, including informal peace processes (such as the family and various organizations) and formal peace processes.

          (c) The Holy See emphasizes that any references to “gender”, “gender equality” and “gender equality and empowerment of women and girls” are understood according to the ordinary, generally accepted usage of the word “gender” based on the biological identity that is male and female, which is, in turn, reinforced by the numerous references in the 2030 Agenda to both sexes (paras. 15, 20, 25). Pope Francis, following in the footsteps of his predecessors, has frequently spoken about the perils of “gender ideology” which denies the relevance of biological sex, male and female, in opining that there is a plethora of “genders” based on one’s subjective perceptions.15

In regards to the rights and duties of the family, the Holy See reaffirmed its position that “the human person, a social being, is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda means —and the Holy See emphasizes —that the family, the natural and fundamental unit of society, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is also at the centre of development, and in accordance with international human rights law is entitled to protection by society and the State. The 2030 Agenda also rightly recognizes the importance of “cohesive communities and families” (para. 25).

Pope Francis’ warnings about “oppressive lending systems” which coerce and pressure governments and of the perils of “ideological colonization” were repeated. The Holy See referenced the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the responsibility of parents “to protect the rights of the children ‘before as well as after birth’ and together with the State must ensure access “to pre-natal and post-natal health care” (Convention on the Rights of the Child, preamble, para. 9 and para. 24).”

Importantly, the Holy See stated that it “reads the 2030 Agenda, with particular regard to the reduction of preventable “newborn, child and maternal mortality”, so as to include the unborn child.”

PNCI appreciates and welcomes the Holy See’s statement, especially as pro-abortion activists increase their strategic networking on ways to use the 2030 Agenda to promote access to abortion, contraception and comprehensive sexuality education, including for girls as young as 10 years old.