WASHINGTON — At the 2022 International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington last week, Lucas Koach, director of the Office of International Justice and Peace for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, warned that in the world in development, there is an impetus “to push for policies that the Church believes run counter to the innate human dignity of the human person and tie it to U.S. foreign aid or other diplomatic levers .
Koach spoke at a Heritage Foundation panel titled “Victims of ‘Polite’ Persecution: Believers Targeted by Secular Abortion and Gender Activists.” The title referred to Pope Francis’ 2016 remarks on persecution “disguised as culture, disguised as modernity, disguised as progress.” The pope called it “polite persecution, when someone is persecuted not for confessing the name of Christ, but for wanting to demonstrate the values of the Son of God.”
Koach said policies that are at odds with the Church’s teaching on human dignity “are often designed under the guise of protecting others, such as a mother facing an unwanted pregnancy, or someone drawn to the same sex or suffering from gender dysphoria, experiencing undue violence”. or discrimination. So, we can say or see that it seems pretty well intentioned, and we certainly agree that vulnerable and marginalized people need to be protected.
He said the Catholic Church believes that “as so many of our religious traditions have well articulated, every human being is made in the likeness and image of God and bears an inviolable dignity; any form of violence must be condemned.
“We’re starting to see that there’s a subtle and growing difference, and sometimes not so subtle, between protecting against violence against everyone and endorsing a certain worldview,” said Koach, who “can go against innate human dignity, go against the nature and purpose of the human family We have seen, more and more, regimes move from notions of protection for all to exports of a worldview that goes against these notions of protection and promotes a new understanding of this nature of the human person and of the human sex.
Pushing on gender ideology
Koach said this surge isn’t new, but “it was elevated; it grew and became less veiled. He referenced the U.S. Agency for International Development’s June 2021 guidelines for “integrating LGBTI+ considerations into education programs,” which he said “gives very explicit guidance to entrepreneurs or NGOs that implement educational programs. [on] how to reorient and reprogram educational materials, to affirm your panoply of gender ideologies or sexual orientations.
The guidelines say to “encourage educational institutions to consider updating forms referring to students’ parents to use ‘parent/parent’ or ‘parent/guardian’ as opposed to ‘mother/father'” and that “information about diverse sexual orientations and gender identities should be included in sex education and family training programs. When teaching about sexuality, gender development and sexual health, educators should strive to include content on LGBTQI+ people, diversity and consent. This content should not be treated separately (or on a different timeline) from other content. »
Koach said that “such guidelines do not correspond to a rudimentary understanding of human nature and dignity, and they risk violating the very things we seek to protect, and certainly run counter to most religions. , cultures and traditions that we seek to help”. He referred to remarks by Pope Francis in 2016 about how “in school, children — children — are taught this: that everyone can choose their gender. And why do we teach this? Because the books are those of the people and institutions that give you the money. These are ideological colonizations, also supported by very influential countries.
“That’s what these communities are up against: they’re trying to feed communities that are on the brink of starvation and chronic food insecurity, in the face of a rapidly changing climate,” Koach said, “but he there will be these types of chains that will get attached, and these are hard to fight.
The U.S. bishops continue to fight these “ideological colonization” efforts, including in March, when the bishops responded to Rep. Norma Torres, D-California, regarding a letter she sent along with 19 House Democrats to President Guillermo Lasso Mendoza of Ecuador, urging him to expand access to abortion, calling it a “human rights imperative.”
Bishop David Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, wrote with Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore that ‘the greatness of the United States lies’ above all [in its] respect for the dignity and sanctity of human life in all conditions and at all stages of development,” quoting Pope Saint John Paul II. The bishops added that “your letter is a violation of the sovereignty of Ecuador, constituting, in the words that Pope Francis has used in similar cases, an ‘ideological colonization’ which seeks to homogenize nations according to a ‘culture of the “aggressive” disposable. Moreover, your position, although widespread, is not universal, here or in Ecuador, because the voices that defend human life and dignity in both countries constantly defend the rights of mothers and their unborn children.
Abortion in Bolivia
Another country that has felt the influence of outside pressure to change abortion laws is Bolivia, where pro-abortion nongovernmental organizations have played a role in making abortion more widely available despite child protections. unborn child in the country’s constitution.
Dr. Melina Carmona de Romero, a Catholic and director of the Centro de Ayuda para La Mujer (Women’s Support Center) in La Paz, Bolivia, told those gathered at the religious freedom summit in Washington that “NGOs organizations pressured the government to approve abortion.
Carmana told the Register that people in Bolivia “are poor and they love family”, saying that “farmers don’t want abortions, but the NGO goes to the farmer and talks with people and they teach: “You need an abortion; it is important.'”
She said that under pressure from IPAS, an international pro-abortion lobby group, and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Constitutional Court of Bolivia issued a 2014 ruling which stated that abortion in the case of rape, “the presentation of a complaint will not be required, nor the existence of an indictment and a formal accusation, much less a a judgement [in order to obtain abortion impunity]. For the woman to access an abortion, her declaration that the pregnancy resulted from a crime will suffice. Thus, the abortion health professional will have express evidence to substantiate the abortion procedure.
Carmana said the move resulted in what was called a “legal termination of pregnancy” where there were rape complaints or where there was a risk to the life or health of the mother, saying it would acted “of virtually unlimited and free abortion in Bolivia”. the maternal health exception is broad enough to include “the biological, mental and/or social health of a woman”. She said there were issues with babies being born alive and being left for dead in some cases where abortion was performed, as there was no ‘establishment of a limit on gestational age’ .
She also raised concerns about conscientious objection to abortion, saying the ombudsman’s office, which is charged with defending human rights and operates independently of the government, was trying to bring criminal charges against directors of hospitals in Tiquipaya and Barrios Mineros de Oruro for refusing to perform abortions.
Carmana referred to a case in October, which received international attention, of an 11-year-old rape victim who she said did not want an abortion but was coerced into having one at 24 weeks by the office of the national ombudsman.
“Feminists accused the episcopal conference of influencing the girl’s decision, when she had not made contact with a delegate from the episcopal conference,” she said. “It is the mediators and feminist groups who have permanent access to the minor and her family, exerting enormous pressure to carry out the abortion treatment.”
Following allegations that Catholic bishops tried to pressure the girl to keep the baby, Bolivian People’s Ombudsman Nadia Cruz and other members of her office led a march during which individuals vandalized the offices of Bolivian bishops. Víctor Hugo Valda, the Bishops’ Health Delegate for the Archdiocese of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, told ACI Prensa that the Church did not intervene or intervene in any way in the decision of the young daughter.
The Catholic News Agency reported that the ombudsman’s office later secured a court order to have the girl removed from a shelter run by the Archdiocese of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, which specializes in caring for mothers. and teenage girls. She was taken to a medical center, where labor was induced, and her baby boy, José María, died soon after, as the center had no resources for the high-risk delivery of a child. premature.
Carmana pointed out that the Catholic Church continues to work in Bolivia to care for poor women in crisis. “We don’t have any money, but we love life and are working on a lot of endeavors,” she said. But attacks on the Church because of their pro-life work and message are “very strong”, she added, and “the defamation of the Church in Bolivia” by pro-abortion feminist groups occurs frequently in the local media.