23-October-2000 -- ZENIT.org News Agency |

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Once Supported by Holy See, a U.N. Group Has Changed Its Focus

NEW YORK, (ZENIT.org).- Millions of children trick-or-treating this Halloween in the United States will be toting little donation boxes, asking for money for the U.N. Children’s Fund to help poor children of the world.

What they don't know is that they will be helping to fund abortion, contraception and sterilization programs in the Third World.

So says the National Catholic Register in its Oct. 22-29 edition. It highlighted the lesser-known work of UNICEF, which is famous for providing food, water and basic medical care to children in the developed world.

Controversy simmering in El Salvador this month over a sex-education program sponsored by UNICEF is adding to what critics say is an anti-family, pro-abortion image of UNICEF foreign aid, the Register said.

Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle of San Salvador has from the pulpit denounced a 170-page sex-education booklet designed by UNICEF and El Salvador’s Ministries of Health and Education for training adolescents on sexuality issues including contraception, homosexuality and abortion, the Register reporter.

“The dignity of people, institutions such as marriage and the rights of the family are all practically demolished with this document,” he told Catholic News Service Oct. 6.

The archbishop described illustrations in the manual intended for training 6,000 El Salvador youth to instruct their peers as “insinuating and grotesque.”

“I haven’t seen it,” Liza Barrie, a UNICEF spokeswoman in New York, said of the manual entitled “From Adolescents to Adolescents,” the Register reported.

Two thousand copies of the manual were printed last year and “about 1,000” were distributed before “objections were raised to some of the content,” she told the Register. It covered topics including homosexuality, bisexuality and masturbation, she told the newspaper.

Further distribution of the guide was temporarily halted in August as a result of public opposition to it, Barrie said, and the text is “being revised,” the Register said.

Barrie downplayed the role of UNICEF in the sex-education program, however, claiming it was one of more than a dozen collaborators and distributors of the manual, along with groups such as World Vision, Save the Children, the World Health Organization and the U.N. Fund for Population Activities.

“UNICEF and Planned Parenthood are two of a kind,” Winifride Prestwich, a founding member of the Canadian political pro-life lobby Campaign Life Coalition, told the Register.

She authored a 1995 booklet, “UNICEF: Guilty as Charged,” which documents the agency's cooperation with population-control groups including International Planned Parenthood Federation, the World Health Organization, the U.N. Fund for Population Activities and the Population Council to support contraceptive, abortion and sterilization campaigns.

“UNICEF was formed [by the United Nations in 1946] to take care of the war-torn children of China and Europe," Prestwich told the Register. "It began as a very noble, worthy cause but it was swept up during the '60s in the old Malthusian theory that overpopulation is leading to world doom, and it strayed very far from its original mandate.”

Over the years, UNICEF has participated in the distribution of millions of abortifacient IUDs and contraceptives in countries such as Pakistan and China.

In 1987, UNICEF formally endorsed a recommendation that “legal, good quality abortion services should be made easily accessible to all women.” By 1992, UNICEF was lobbying for abortion in some countries where it is still illegal, the Register said.

Carol Bellamy, UNICEF’s executive director since 1995, is a former New York senator with an old voting record demonstrating her pro-abortion views. In 1974 she opposed a measure declaring that a fetus that survived an abortion and was born alive is entitled to the same care as other infants born alive.

UNICEF’s current Web page features a “family planning” page titled, “Progress of Nations … Dwindling families.” A series of bar graphs illustrate how some developing countries fertility rates have been “halved in one generation,” the Register reported.

“UNICEF is pro-abortion,” said Prestwich. “They put it so nicely. They don’t want poor children coming into the world. It’s not hidden It’s a publicly acknowledged agenda that is documented in public records, but most people are unaware that is what UNICEF is about.”

John Klink, adviser to the Holy See mission to the United Nations, agrees. Until recently, he attended UNICEF board meetings to monitor their activities for the Vatican.

“The Holy See used to give a symbolic contribution of $2,000 each year to UNICEF,” he told the Register. “It was a sort of imprimatur that other Catholic individuals and organizations could give to the organization in good faith.”

But Vatican relations with UNICEF had been strained for years because of UNICEF’s activities that violate Catholic faith teaching. The Holy See tried to have funds earmarked away from those activities to programs serving the basic needs of the poor. Bellamy’s “constant refrain was that to earmark funds was to suggest that they were doing something untoward, which she denied,” Klink told the Register.

In 1996, UNICEF issued a press release announcing it would be distributing “contraceptives and drugs to terminate pregnancies” to “a million starving refugees in flight along the border between Rwanda and Zaire.” Shortly after that the Holy See stopped funding UNICEF.

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