VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Vatican is denying that a papal honor bestowed on an abortion activist signals support. The Lepanto Institute reported Friday that Lilianne Ploumen, a Catholic and former Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in the Netherlands, was inducted into the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great in 2017, given the title of Commander.
Ploumen is founder of She Decides, a non-governmental organization that promotes abortion and birth control, created after President Trump reversed the Mexico City Policy in January 2017, removing federal funding from international organizations that promote abortion. She Decides has collected at least $300 million from approximately 60 countries.
In an interview, Ploumen referred to the papal honor as "a high award from the Pope." She went on to say that "the Vatican probably knows that I started She Decides and they gave me this prize — very special."
When asked by the reporter whether she saw it as "confirmation" of her abortion activism, she replied, "Yes, that, and also, the last couple of years I invested a lot of time in establishing contacts with the Vatican."
But the Holy See Press Office is rejecting claims that the papal award signals support of Ploumen's politics. In comments made Monday, spokesman Paloma García Ovejero said:
The honor of the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great received by Mrs. Lilianne Ploumen, former Minister of Development, in June 2017 during the visit of the Dutch Royals to the Holy Father, responds to the diplomatic practice of the exchange of honors between delegations on the occasion of official visits by Heads of State or Government in the Vatican.
Therefore, it is not in the slightest a placet [agreement] to the politics in favor of abortion and of birth control that Mrs. Ploumen promotes.
According to Dutch media, Ploumen was among 10 delegates to receive the honor in June. "Ploumen received the award simply because she was part of the delegation that accompanied King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima during the State visit to the Vatican on 22 June 2017," according to the report.
Suppose the King George VI had conferred the honor of knighthood on Hermann Goering or Joseph Goebbels on a diplomatic visit, and later claimed it was just a diplomatic participation prize. Not only would this be a massive insult to all those who had been knighted for truly honorable reasons, but it would give the appearance of approval for those receiving the knighthood. And to confer this honor without following the proper vetting process is reckless and scandalous.
Vaticanista Edward Pentin notes that Ploumen's abortion support has been "monstrous"; in addition to her promotion of killing the unborn, she is a strong advocate of gay rights, urging LGBT activists to disrupt Mass after an active homosexual was denied Holy Communion, as well as speaking at the United Nations' Core Group, an LGBT organization.
Hichborn notes a discrepancy between the Holy See's official statement and what's being reported to media outfits through Vatican officials. Although the official statement claims the honor was merely diplomatic, the U.K. paper The Tablet quotes Vatican sources as saying that the Holy See's protocol office itself had suggested conferring the award on Ploumen.
"So, on the one hand, the official statement gives the impression that this honor is conferred as standard fare at diplomatic meetings like this," Hichborn noted, "while a source in the Vatican is saying that this was a unique instance."
"Considering that the cardinal of Utrecht felt compelled to publicly state that he was not involved in the application for the title nor was he aware of the fact that this papal award was requested for her," he continued, "it is clear that the conference of this award to Ploumen was a serious breech of protocol."
A petition has been started to rescind the papal honor, claiming it must be revoked because Ploumen "is a militant abortionist."
Hichborn agrees. "The Holy See should at least denounce Ploumen for her despicable self-promotion in the name of the honor conferred upon her," he commented to Church Militant. "But more properly, the Holy See should request that the honor be returned and that Ploumen publicly apologize for leveraging her pro-abortion work in the name of her papal honor."