Vatican Representative Endorses UN Sustainable Development Goals ‘Verbatim’

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by Michael Hichborn  •  •  July 2, 2015   

Sustainable Development Goals include abortion and contraception

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On 22 June, just four days after Pope Francis promulgated the encyclical on the environment, Abp. Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, gave a formal statement to the United Nations on the "Zero Draft, Post-2015 Development Agenda." As an Apostolic Nuncio, the Archbishop represents Pope Francis himself and, in effect, is speaking on his behalf. In his statement he said:

"We support the verbatim inclusion of the sustainable development goals and targets as in the Report of the OWG (Open Working Group)" (emphasis added). Toward the end of the statement, the archbishop added, "We would strongly encourage the use and coordination of all sources of financing to achieve the SDGs and development in general."

The Lepanto Institute, in coordination with several other organizations, has reached out to Abp. Auza for clarification. After a week, there has been no response. The Vatican's new nuncio to the U.N. may not realize that the SDGs as written will most definitely lead to an expansion of abortion and contraception promotion in the developing world, however the archbishop's statement will make it easier for the U.N. to implement this program according to its own agenda.

Archbishop Auza’s statement doesn't merely provide support for the Sustainable Development Goals , it's an endorsement of every single word of the SDGs in their current written form! And written very clearly into the Sustainable Development Goals, in the very report referenced by Abp. Auza, is the inclusion of "sexual and reproductive rights," "sexual and reproductive health services," and "family planning services." Here is what the Zero Draft report of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals says.

Paragraph 23, under the heading "The New Agenda":

To extend life expectancy for all, we must achieve universal health No one must be left behind. We commit to accelerating the progress made to date in reducing infant, child and maternal mortality by ending all preventable deaths of infants, children and expectant mothers by 2030. We shall ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services, including for family planning, information and education. We will equally accelerate the pace of progress made in fighting malaria, HIVIAIDS, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases and epidemics. At the same time we shall devote greater effort to tackling non-communicable diseases. (emphasis added)

"Universal access" means access without any form of regulation or restriction.  The word "services" is not to be equated with "practices," such as natural family planning. In other words, the "new agenda" means the provision of the full range of contraceptive drugs and devices, including abortifacients, without restriction.  The "information and education" portion means the dissemination of sexually-explicit, contraception-promoting literature and programs intended to indoctrinate men, women and children in the use of all forms of contraception.

Goal Three of the Sustainable Development Goals, according to the Zero Draft report, had the noble-sounding objective of "Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages." However, one of the objectives listed for achieving this goal is, "By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, infonnation (sic) and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes."

Goal five is even worse.  The stated goal is to "achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls," and the last listed objective under this goal is to "ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action."

The key to understanding this is knowing what was agreed upon in the "Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development" and the "Beijing Platform for Action." Bear in mind that the archbishop representing Pope Francis at the United Nations said, "We support the verbatim inclusion of the sustainable development goals and targets as in the Report of the OWG."

The Programme of Action adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development makes abundantly clear that "reproductive health" means all forms of contraception and "safe, legal abortions." Paragraph 7.6 defined what is meant by reproductive health, indicating that in addition to the provision of "family planning services" and sex education, reproductive health also means providing referrals for "family planning services." It also says that reproductive health includes abortion, as specified in paragraph 8.25.

Paragraph 8.25 is quite clear. While abortion is not to be suggested as a form of "family planning," it specifies that expanded access to family planning services must be given the highest priority in preventing "unwanted pregnancies." Furthermore, this section does not prohibit abortion as an action of "sexual and reproductive health," saying that "in circumstances where abortion is not against the law, such abortions should be safe."

All of this goes back to the Sustainable Development Goals with regard to the definition of "reproductive health." There can be no doubt that the terms "sexual and reproductive health" mean the full range of contraceptives including abortifacients, and safe abortions. The Zero Draft of the Sustainable Development Goals also indicated that the Beijing Platform for Action is another  document helping to define reproductive health.  Paragraph 94 of the Beijing Platform for Action reads like a Planned Parenthood brochure:

94. Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. Reproductive health therefore implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. Implicit in this last condition are the right of men and women to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other methods of their choice for regulation of fertility which are not against the law, and the right of access to appropriate health-care services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant. In line with the above definition of reproductive health, reproductive health care is defined as the constellation of methods, techniques and services that contribute to reproductive health and well-being by preventing and solving reproductive health problems. It also includes sexual health, the purpose of which is the enhancement of life and personal relations, and not merely counselling and care related to reproduction and sexually transmitted diseases.


On the eve of the promulgation of Pope Francis' new encyclical, Laudato Si, The Lepanto Institute published an analysis of the genesis of the encyclical itself.  In that analysis, we expressed deep concerns because a document published by the UNFPA (United Nation's Population Fund) indicated that in relation to the new encyclical, Pope Francis had thrown the full weight of the Catholic Church behind the Sustainable Development Goals. Once the encyclical was published, it was clear that paragraph 169 of Laudato Si gave an endorsement of the SDGs, and at the promulgation ceremony itself, Dr. Carolyn Woo, president of Catholic Relief Services actively pushed the SDGs in her speech.

Very clearly, the prediction made by the Lepanto Institute is indeed being fulfilled. The scary thing is that the Vatican's support for the Sustainable Development Goals is unqualified and includes the U.N.'s language that indicates contraception as a form of population control.

The Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, Abp. Bernardito Auza gave complete, unreserved and unrestricted support and endorsement of the Sustainable Development Goals AS WRITTEN. He said, "We support the verbatim inclusion of the sustainable development goals and targets as in the Report of the OWG." As it has been demonstrated, the Sustainable Development Goals, as written, include unrestricted access to the full range of contraception, including abortifacients, and "safe abortion."

There are only four possibilities regarding this situation:

  1. He didn't read the full document, and accepted someone's summary of it;
  2. He was handed a document OTHER than the one published on the web;
  3. He doesn't know how "reproductive health" is defined by the U.N. documents cited; or
  4. (God forbid!) The archbishop believes it is important to adopt all aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals, including access to contraception and "safe abortion."

We have no reason to believe that possibility number four is the case. However, whatever the reason for the statement, it is clear that such a strong statement of support will strengthen and embolden the population control agenda of the United Nations through the Sustainable Development Goals. The simple solution would be for the Vatican to make its support of the SDGs contingent upon the exclusion of abortion and contraception, both in act and in promotion. In fact, a stronger statement would be for the Vatican to announce that it will actively oppose the Sustainable Development Goals should contraception or abortion have ANY place in them whatsoever.

We must all pray and fast for Abp. Auza and for Pope Francis.

In the meantime, contact the archbishop and respectfully and urgently ask him not to support the Sustainable Development Goals.

Tel: (212) 370-7885


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Michael Hichborn

Michael is the founder and president of the Lepanto Institute. Formerly, he served American Life League for nearly eight years as the director of the "Defend the Faith" project, host of the American Life League Report, and director of communications.