NEW YORK — The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute has been a watchdog at the United Nations since 1997.
C-FAM, as it’s known, strives “to be present where international social policy is made,” said its president, Austin Ruse. That includes presence at the international criminal court’s establishment and the five-, 10- and 15-year reviews of the Cairo and Beijing conferences.
“We have participated in every major social-policy negotiation since 1997,” said Ruse.
But the kickoff conference to the U.N.’s International Year of Youth is different, he said.
“The reason I’m so alarmed about this particular conference is that it’s aimed at kids.”
C-FAM had personnel at the Aug. 23-27 World Youth Conference in León, Mexico. It featured sexually explicit brochures, an exhibit with sex toys and a youth-produced manifesto calling for gender redefinition.
“They know that if they introduce sexuality at a younger and younger age they have a great chance at taking our children from us,” Ruse said.
Launched in August with a theme of “dialogue and mutual understanding,” the International Year of Youth “aims to promote the ideals of peace, respect for human rights and solidarity across generations, cultures, religions and civilizations,” according to a U.N. release. Three overarching objectives are identified: increasing commitment and investment in youth; increasing youth participation and partnerships, and increasing intercultural understanding among youth.
But Ruse and C-FAM point to sexual indoctrination and gender confusion too.
The gathering in Mexico, an initiative of the Mexico government, featured three conferences — one each for youth, governments and parliamentarians — and an exhibit titled the Global Interactive Forum.
C-FAM’s concern prior to the conference was the document that more than 100 government delegations — including the Holy See — were going to be asked to endorse. A U.N. member state provided C-FAM with an advance copy of the document draft — and they didn’t like what they saw.
“This document strikes right at the heart of the parent-child bond,” Ruse wrote in a fundraising letter prior to the conference. “It demands radical and complete autonomy for young people, separate from their parents. The document doesn’t even use the hated word ‘parent.’”
The ‘Not So Bad’ and the Bad
As it turns out, the “Guanajuato Declaration,” the final document endorsed, “isn’t so bad,” said C-FAM’s vice president, Terrence McKeegan, who attended the conference with two colleagues. Not bad, at least, “as far as recent U.N. and international documents go,” McKeegan added.
Of greater concern to C-FAM was the document produced at the youth conference, attended by about 5,000 youth ranging in age from the early teens to 30. McKeegan said 300 of those were “hand-picked” by the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), which paid their travel to Mexico.
Maria Antonieta Alcalde, deputy director of public affairs for the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), said a Social Forum Committee coordinated the conference and reviewed the application and selection of delegates. IPPF did not participate in that process but did pay for the travel of one delegate from both Jamaica and Barbados.
Delegates drafted and produced the “NGO Youth Statement.” That statement calls for “universal access to confidential, youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services, including access to evidence-based comprehensive sexuality education, in formal and non-formal settings.” It also calls for access “to a full range of contraceptives and safe abortion, “and governments are asked to “recognize LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] as part of the spectrum of gender identities.”
Alcalde says the statement incorporates compromised language.
“When the health draft statement was presented at the plenary for its final discussion and voting, some of us were concerned about having some unexpected opposition at the floor,” Alcalde said. “But we were very glad to see that both the education and health [sections] … were actually approved by acclamation.”
She said that when it came to the vote on the health section only one delegate asked for the floor to explain that he was abstaining from voting because he did not support abortion.
McKeegan, though, said C-FAM and “nearly every conservative, pro-life and pro-family group” was shut out of being accredited to the Youth Forum. C-FAM held a press conference with a group of young people to protest unfair representation of youth.
Equally troubling to C-FAM was the Interactive Global Forum, a large expo that included what C-FAM says were dozens of booths with pornographic or sexually explicit materials or presentations. The International Planned Parenthood Federation booth included the sexually explicit brochure “Healthy, Happy and Hot.” An organization named “RECREA” provided a bowl of condoms and a wooden phallus. There also were cases featuring rubber models of male and female genitalia.
Alcalde said she did not see such models, “but if this were used for educational purposes, for example to show how to properly wear a condom, I think it is not only appropriate but needed in order for young people to have the information they need to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS infections.”
Alcalde also said IPPF hosted a workshop advocating reproductive rights and that it was attended by 50 young people, mostly Mexicans.
A Busy Fall
The Declaration of Guanajuato produced by government delegates was presented at the United Nations during a high-level review of the Millennium Development Goals Sept. 22-25. McKeegan said Mexico in its address at the MDG summit made a “soft pitch” of the Guanajuato Declaration, noting that it was endorsed by 112 countries.
“We believe that Mexico and many Western countries intend for the Guanajuato Declaration to form the basis of a resolution on youth that would be taken up later during this General Assembly,” McKeegan said. He expects such action to come in early November.
Ruse has said there also could be an effort to have the NGO Youth Statement appended to the Declaration of Guanajuato.
“Delegations will fight against this tooth and nail, and we have been told by the organizers of the conference that the youth document will not be appended,” Ruse said, “but things can change really rapidly.”
Alcalde, in fact, said delegates asked for inclusion of the NGO Youth Statement as a reference document of the government declaration. “We expect this to be done,” she added.
Such U.N. documents are important, Ruse said, because they can be presented as international norms, allowing “radical parliamentarians” and national courts to cite them in creating new laws.
Pushing Against Population
Why the push to radically sexualize children? Ruse says that some in the U.N. family are concerned about the large numbers of young people — 1.2 billion age 15 to 24, according to a U.N. release. That’s 18% of the world’s population.
“The smart guys at the U.N. are very concerned that this cohort of young people not reproduce, that fertilization levels keep at the same low rate that their parents are at,” Ruse said.
He said another effort is being made to free young people from the “constraints” of traditional morality and religion.
“This attitude is common in U.N. agencies, common among large NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that work with the United Nations, including IPPF and others,” Ruse said.
“It’s not a single person. It’s a mindset a lot of people share. Population-control groups are involved. Mainstream American foundations are involved. There’s just a whole panoply of folks on what I call the ‘sexual left’ who are interested in these issues.”
C-FAM doesn’t plan on standing idle as the Year of Youth documents make their way through the U.N.’s halls.
At a press conference in Mexico, C-FAM launched its own petition, a “Statement of Youth to the World,” which it hopes to present to the U.N. General Assembly whenever it acts on the Guanajuato Declaration. The petition, drafted by an international team of youth, consists of eight fundamental principles (i.e., “Man and Woman are Based in Nature”) and is available to sign. The page is part of C-FAM’s online presence “Youth Under Siege.”
When the U.N. convenes this fall, C-FAM also will send young Christian law students — its Edmund Burke fellows — to New York to lobby governments against the document.
That and six U.N. six conferences, numerous commissions and the U.N.’s regular work will keep C-FAM busy in the next six months, said Ruse. Many of the efforts pose threats to life, faith and family, he added.
“So we really do feel like we are standing in front of a fire hose.”
The first blast, which rushed out in Mexico in August, is of immediate concern.
“What Catholics and parents need to realize,” McKeegan said, “is that, oftentimes, these youth initiatives, especially ‘sex education,’ are wrapped in benign language, such as ‘age-appropriate,’ which leads people to believe that the instruction or material is indeed appropriate.
“But the international sexual and reproductive health lobby has a very different idea of what is appropriate for young people than the average person would, as can be seen in the displays at the expo or in the sex brochures that these groups use in schools and informal programs.”
Anthony Flott writes from Papillion, Nebraska.