The Pope and the UN’s ‘Development Goals’

On September 25, shortly after Pope Francis gave his speech to the United Nations in New York, all 193 member states of the United Nations formally adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) about which many Catholics are very concerned.

LifeSiteNews reported last August that, even though some more explicit pro-abortion points were left out of the final version of the SDGs — such as an “international right to abortion” — grave problems still remain. In the words of Peter Balinski of LifeSiteNews: “Despite this [the omission of the “international right to abortion”], life-and-family critics say it is only a small win for the pro-life movement since the SDGs include ‘sexual and reproductive health’ language that is already used to fund abortion worldwide.”

LifeSiteNews also reported that it had received an assurance from the Holy See that the Vatican “registered formal reservations about these [problematic pro-abortion] phrases [such as reproductive health] with the UN,” i.e., it “cannot and will never support … anything that can undermine the Family or the Right to Life from the moment of conception.”

According to a 26 September report by the Italian website Corrispondenza Romana, the attempt of the Holy See to remove the matter of abortion from the SDGs has failed. Rome then received the UN’s answer: “It is not opportune to re-open the case.” According to Corrispondenza Romana, Cardinal Sarah responded to this development with these words: “It is categorically wrong that the Church uses words which are being used by the United Nations. We have our own vocabulary in order to express what we believe in.”

Pope Francis, when addressing this assembly of the United Nations on September 25 — as the inaugural speaker of the day — had the following words to say:

“The dramatic reality this whole situation of exclusion and inequality, with its evident effects, has led me, in union with the entire Christian people and many others, to take stock of my grave responsibility in this regard and to speak out, together with all those who are seeking urgently-needed and effective solutions. The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the World Summit, which opens today, is an important sign of hope. I am similarly confident that the Paris Conference on Climatic Change will secure fundamental and effective agreements. Solemn commitments, however, are not enough, although they are certainly a necessary step toward solutions.”

However, has Pope Francis not now given thereby his moral support to an agenda that contains elements contrary to the continuous moral teaching of the Catholic Church on life and sexuality?