When I received information concerning the upcoming Pastoral Meeting about Children and Adolescents at Risk, organized by the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM), I decided to attend as a representative of the Commission of Life, Family and Childhood of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference. What made up my mind was the appearance on the program of speakers from UNICEF and the Pan-American Organization for Health (OPS), which is a member organization of the World Health Organization (WHO). I was very curious as to what UNICEF and OPS would say to the Church representatives, who had gathered from throughout Latin America to attend this event.
The Plan: By Our Powers Combined …
Both UNICEF and OPS, it turned out, sang from the same hymnal. Both proposed a strategic alliance with the Catholic Church. Both spoke of the “re-launching” of a “promising” joint partnership between the Church and their organizations. This “tripod” of strategic partners—UNICEF, OPS, and the Catholic Church—could do much good, they averred.
Few of those present in the audience objected. Some of those
attending, I knew, were aware of the involvement of these
organizations in abortion and birth control around the world, but most
were ignorant. How could the priests and religious in attendance, who
live and work with poor children in their communities, be expected
to know about the great difficulties that would arise if they agreed
to work with these organizations? How could they be aware of the
dangers of taking money from organizations that would then expect them
to compromise on key moral issues?
The UNICEF and OPS representatives, for their part, were careful not to tip their hands. There were a couple of offhanded references to reproductive health in their proposed partnerships with the Church, but nothing that would arouse suspicion in uninitiated Church leaders. The speakers carefully avoided subjects like abortion, the morning-after-pill, and feminist ideologies where the policies of their organizations run counter to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
In order to help the Latin American Episcopal Conference make an informed decision on the proposed “strategic alliance,” I decided to interview both speakers: Dr. Oscar Suriel, the International Consultant on Family Health and Community of OPS, and Dr. Manrique Castro, who introduced himself as an officer of long experience with UNICEF. Both agreed to be interviewed on camera. I summarize the sometimes startling results below:
Interview with Dr. Oscar Suriel, representative of OPS/WHO:
When I asked Dr. Suriel about OPS/WHO ‘s blatant promotion of abortion, his first response was to flatly deny that his organization was involved in these activities. Unfortunately for him, I had OPS documents proving otherwise. According to OPS, it had been one of the players to pressure the Nicaraguan government to reinstate so-called “therapeutic abortion.”
At this point, he changed his story. “OPS supports therapeutic abortion,” he claimed, “but not abortion per se”. This is a distinction without a difference, I told him. It is by now widely known, and not just inside the Church, that “therapeutic abortion” is a contradiction in terms. It is nothing more than a semantic dodge used to slip abortion past existing laws prohibiting it.
I also pointed out that his answer was disingenuous, since OPS supported Mexico City’s abortion law, which legalizes the practice for pregnancies up to l2 weeks gestation.
I then asked if OPS/WHO would be willing to relinquish its promotion of abortion in order to partner with the Church.
Suriel indicated that it would not revise or revoke any of its anti-life activities or positions. Instead, he told me that I was the one with a problem. “If you actually to walk the road,” he said, “you would perceive these matters differently.” In the end, he said, “what matters is to save lives.”
I repeated my question: Would OPS/WHO be willing to abandon its abortion agenda in order to facilitate an alliance with the Catholic Church?
“You’re talking to me about dissent,” he responded, “and I am talking about consensus. On no issues do we disagree with the Catholic Church.”
Since we obviously disagree with OPS on a whole host of issues, beginning with abortion, it is obvious that it was Suriel was retreating to a position of knee-jerk denial.
Interview with Dr. Manuel Manrique, Representative of UNICEF
In the interview with Dr. Manrique, I asked him what he thought about the Holy See’s inquiry into UNICEF for its involvement with abortion and reproductive health.
Manrique tried to downplay the issue, saying that “these were small contingencies that are of little importance” and that they were “not deep issues.”
When I brought up UNICEF’s support of “therapeutic abortion” in Nicaragua and Mexico, Manrique told me that while individuals associated with UNICEF supported this move, UNICEF as an organization had not. This is not a credible defense, since the signature of the UNICEF representative, as well as the organizations logo, is available on public documents concerning the matter.
Even more incredible was his distortion of the Church’s teaching on condoms. UNICEF ceaselessly promotes condoms among teens, supposedly for AIDS prevention. Manrique claimed that the Catholic Church was DOI officially opposed to the use of condoms, and gave examples of bishops who support their use in such cases. He referred specifically to the Secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia and to a number of Brazilian Bishops.
I asked whether Pope Benedict XVI, who has unswervingly stated the Church’s official opposition to condoms, was not the official voice of the Church.
“That’s what you say,” Manrique responded.
A joint publication by WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF and the World Bank, and endorsed by the International Confederation of Midwives and FIGO, entitled “Managing Complications in Pregnancy and Childbirth” recommends the use of MVAs (Manual Vacuum Aspirators) as the procedure of choice when performing abortions. The document, whose title contains the UNICEF logo, can be viewed online at http://www.who.int/reproductive-health/impac/mcpc.pdf. In section P-61 it says:
The preferred method of evacuation of the uterus is by manual vacuum aspiration. Dilatation and curettage should be used only if manual vacuum aspiration is not available.
The 2007 catalog of Durbin Clinic Sales, a UK-based company, contains the MVA (Manual Vacuum Aspirator), in the section Termination Equipment, which has the subtitle “IPAS Manual Vacuum Aspiration Instruments.” This can be found on page 41 of 45. You can download the catalog in PDF: http://www.durbin.co.uk/images/cs/complete.pdf. On page 42 these machines are described and documents signed by UNICEF are quoted:
Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) is a simple and effective method for uterine evacuation. The procedure is 99% effective, with complication rates lower than D & C, to perform quick, gentle and patient friendly.
One could defend UNICEF by saying that these machines are used for incomplete spontaneous abortions. Such an argument is ridiculous when we consider the other facts, which make UNICEF’s abortion agenda clear:
l. Public funds given to UNICEF contribute to the decriminalization of abortion. (Clear evidence of this is found not only in the present case of the Dominican Republic, but arguably in Mexico or Nicaragua as well.)
2. Public funds given to UNICEF also contribute to organizations like IPAS, who not only openly promote abortion as a human right, but are a commercial distributor of suction machines precisely for the purpose of performing abortions. (In 2002, UNICEF was responsible for organizing the General Assembly on Children in New York where the presence of IPAS focused on the promotion of suction machines.)
No sooner had the cameras stopped rolling than both Manrique and Suriel began harshly criticizing me, and demanding that I not publish these interviews.
This only strengthened my resolve to publish the damaging information that l had discovered on their official websites, as well as their denials and equivocations about the hard facts of their organizations support of abortion and other evils.
“Don’t you know how much money would be lost if this collaboration is not carried out?” Suriel demanded. For him, it all came down to the power of money.
Neither really understood the nature of the Church’s work, it seems. They believe that they are simply recruiting social workers—who work cheaply or simply for free—into the service of a secular health organization. As far as the Church’s position on abortion is concerned, they seem content to disregard it entirely. These pro-abortion NGOs apparently believe that if they co-opt enough of the Church’s workers, priests, and bishops, that they can use this “Catholic alliance” as an instrument for their own ends.
It is clear that UNICEF and OPS know exactly what they are doing: trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the naive. Let us not be deceived.