11-July-2000 -- P |

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Catholic lawmaker ,Smith stands in way of attempts to strip Vatican of U.N. observer status

(Washington, DC) - The House of Representatives today passed H. Con Res 253, a resolution which puts Congress on record as strongly against the current effort to expel the Holy See from the United Nations by depriving it of the Permanent Observer status it has held for over 35 years.

"The current effort to expel the Holy See from the Vatican is eerily reminiscent to similar attempts to deny Israel full participation in this world governing body," said Congressman Chris Smith, sponsor of the legislation and Chairman of the International Operations and Human Rights Sub-Committee. "Thankfully, that effort failed as will this one," added Smith.

Smith said a number of groups announced what they called the "See Change" campaign designed to pressure the UN into expelling the Holy See as a state participant.

"Frustrated by the success of the Holy See at cooperating with other delegations to defend the sanctity of life and the integrity of the family against radical proposals at UN international conferences, those organizations decided to try a new tactic They are now trying to subvert free discussion on these topics in the future by depriving the Holy See of its rightful place at the table. This proposal is an ideological power play, motivated by anti-catholic and pro-abortion sentiment, and it must be stopped," added Smith.

This legislation, which has 38 co-sponsors, commends the Holy See for its strong commitment to fundamental human rights and states that "any degradation of the status accorded to the Holy See at the United Nations would seriously damage the credibility of the U.N. by demonstrating that its rules of participation are manipulable for ideological reasons rather than being rooted in neutral principles and objective facts ."

The legislation also states that "Vatican expulsion from the U.N. would damage relations between the U.N. and member states that find the Holy See a moral and ethical presence in which they can work effectively in pursuing approaches to problems." The diplomatic history of the Holy See began 1,600 years ago, during the 4th century A.D. The Holy See currently has formal diplomatic relations with 169 nations, including the United States, and maintains 179 diplomatic missions aborad.

"The Holy See had the option to adopt Member-State status, but true to their bi-partisan, non-political nature, the Vatican chose to remain an observer," said Smith. "Now there is a political movement, led by those who hold contempt for the Catholic church and its teachings, to expel the Vatican entirely, and this is unacceptable," added Smith.

"The removal of the Holy See's Permanent Observer status would constitute an unjustifiable expulsion of the Holy See from the United Nations as a state participant and would seriously damage relations between the United Nations and member states that find in the Holy See a moral and ethical presence with which they can work effectively in pursuing humanitarian approaches to international problems" said Smith.

"The Vatican's moral presence in the United Nations has served as a constant reminder of our value based society for years, and its' absence would silence the voice of millions of Catholics worldwide. That is exactly what those in opposition to the Holy See desire - the disintegration of the Catholic world-view in our global governing body," continued Smith.

"The United Nations operates largely by consensus, and in the final analysis, the activists behind the "See Change" campaign would like to circumvent that process by silencing a voice they oppose," said Smith. "Today Congress has sent a clear message that this shameful eruption of anti-Catholic bigotry will not be tolerated," added Smith.

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