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Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson is demanding
that Vice President Al Gore repudiate two “anti-Catholic” groups that
are calling for the eviction of the Holy See from the United Nations.

The National Abortion Rights Action League and the Women Leaders
Online, both groups enthusiastically endorsing Gore for president, are
supporting “See Change,” a campaign to oust the Vatican from the United
Nations. Since 1964, the Vatican has had “permanent observer” status
at the U.N.

enabling it to play an active role and vote with other countries at U.N.
conferences, but not in the General Assembly.

Representatives of various nations are gathered at the United Nations
in preparation for June’s “Beijing +5″ Special Session of the General
Assembly, entitled, “Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace
for the Twenty-First Century.”

In the midst of deliberations over how to globally implement its
“Platform for Action” — which had stalled over language that would make
abortion and sexual orientation universal human rights — the abortion
advocacy group Catholics for a Free Choice held a press conference
outlining its “See Change” campaign to have the Holy See lose its status
as a Non-member State Permanent Observer. NARAL and Women Leaders
Online are enthusiastically supporting Catholics for a Free Choice’s
denunciation of the Vatican.

The term Holy See stands for the central authority of the Roman
Catholic Church, which includes the tiny sovereign State of Vatican
City.

“As a Catholic, I am appalled that Al Gore has courted the support of
two groups trying to throw the Vatican out of the United Nations,”
Nicholson said. “See Change’s anti-Catholic goal is to evict the Vatican
from the U.N., to silence the voice of Pope John Paul and to prevent one
billion Catholics from speaking up for morality and justice at the
world’s most prominent international forum,” Nicholson said.

“Does Al Gore agree with these anti-Catholic goals? If not, why does
he refuse to stand up and repudiate them? Why doesn’t Gore reject the
endorsements of these anti-Catholic groups?

“The pattern here is disturbing,” Nicholson added. “First, Al Gore
and Hillary Clinton insulted Jewish Americans by kissing the ring of Al
Sharpton, a racist and anti-Semite whose words and deeds have led to the
deaths of Jews, blacks and others. Then Gore accepts the endorsement of
NARAL, a group trying to diminish the Vatican.”

As one of the nation’s most powerful pro-abortion special interest
groups, NARAL’s endorsement of Gore was expected, especially since Gore
continues to support the controversial practice of partial birth
abortion — called “infanticide” by Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick
Moynihan.

In an election year that has witnessed several attempts to claim the
Catholic vote, the response of candidates to the attempt to remove the
Vatican is being closely watched.

Tuesday, at the U.N. headquarters in New York, under the sponsorship
of the United States mission to the U.N., Catholics for a Free Choice
spokeswoman Frances Kissling claimed she had gathered the signatures of
400 organizations to be given to the U.N.

Anika Rahman, of an associated abortion rights group, Center for
Reproductive Law and Policy, said the Vatican’s position at the United
Nations was analogous to giving a U.N. seat to the Politburo.

Rahman contends the Vatican does not qualify as a sovereign state in
international law and therefore is not entitled to its deliberative
status — even though it is recognized as a sovereign state by 177
nations, issues passports, has its own postal system, legal territory
and resident citizens. Territorial size is not a factor in determining
sovereignty, counter Vatican supporters.

“In the context of the international meetings sponsored by the United
Nations to promote women, the Holy See has taken positions that are
antithetical to women’s rights,” a press release from the Center for
Reproductive Law and Policy stated.

Critics of the “See Change” campaign point out the obvious — that
the real target is not to determine the sovereignty of the Vatican, but
to silence its pro-life voice in the U.N.

Addressing the press at the U.N. on Wednesday, Focus on the Family,
Mary Ellen Bork, Family Research Council and Rabbi Yehuda Levin of Jews
for Morality all expressed their support of the Vatican’s presence at
the U.N., and denounced Kissling’s “See Change” coalition calling for
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to demote the Vatican to a
Non-Governmental Organization.

Rabbi Levin compared the assault on the Catholic Church to the
assault on the Jews.

“Half a century ago, my family was the victim of a movement which
wanted to rid the world of Jews, and Jewish teachings and Jewish values.
Today, the extremists seek to disallow and disenfranchise the Catholic
community and their ideas. Often it is the Catholic presence which
reflects our traditional Jewish teaching on respect for life and
family. I call upon the U.N. and her members to reject this censorship,
reject the bigotry, and reject this hate of the Vatican and of the
Jewish pro-life and family [traditions] it expresses. Sixty years ago
our people asked, ‘Where were you for the Jews?’ Today we ask the world,
‘Where are you for the Catholics?’”

Catholics for a Free Choice graphically counters these arguments:

“From opposing condoms to halt the spread of AIDS, to decrying the
use of emergency contraception for refugee victims of rape, the Holy See
misuses its special status to erect real obstacles to the promotion of
women’s health and well-being, despite the contention of resolutions
introduced in the U.S. Congress. The resolutions, introduced by several
anti-choice members of Congress … oppose any effort to review the
status of the Holy See at the U.N. and laud the role played by the Holy
See at the U.N.”

Austin Ruse, president of Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute,
announced vigorous support for the resolutions before the U.S. House and
Senate calling for U.S. endorsement of the continued presence of the
Holy See at the UN.

“These will be historic documents,” noted Ruse, pointing out that it
will be the first ever U.S. resolution in support of the Vatican. Ruse
found a ready ally when he approached Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., about
sponsoring a resolution. Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H. and Rep. Chris Smith,
R-N.J. have joined the sponsorship of the resolutions. Ruse distributed
to the press a “Declaration of Support of the Holy See at the United
Nations” written by Princeton Professor, Robert George and William
Saunders of the Family Research Council. The declaration has been
signed by 1,015 NGOs from 44 countries –overwhelming support for the
Vatican as the voice of traditional Western morality, family values and
civic standards.

Robert L. Maginnis, director of national security and foreign affairs
for the Family Research Council, pointed out that the U.S. State
Department, in a 1998 report, praised the Catholic Church for its human
rights efforts.

“The drive to expel the Vatican from the U.N. is obviously intended
to intimidate pro-life delegations (to the Beijing +5 conference),” said
Maginnis. “If any offensive move to oust the Vatican delegation from the
U.N. succeeds, Family Research Council will call upon Congress to
reassess American participation in the world organization.”

Mary Ellen Bork, wife of Judge Robert Bork and Director of the
Catholic Campaign for America, said, “Kissling is a letterhead
organization funded by the Playboy Foundation.”

Kissling has long quarreled with the Catholic Church’s teaching on
abortion. Her funding is drawn from population-control interests and
abortion rights foundations, including Playboy and Ted Turner
Foundations.

Her group, Catholics for a Free Choice, is an NGO at the U.N. And
even though the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has said
that no group promoting abortion is entitled to use the term “Catholic”
in its name, the United Nations declined the Vatican’s request that the
U.N. ask Kissling to delete “Catholics” from her organization’s name in
its application for NGO status at the U.N.

Abortion rights groups are openly frustrated with the Vatican’s
defense of national sovereignty, the family, parental rights, and the
pre-born during the Beijing +5 “PrepCom” now in progress. They claim the
Holy See is “obstructing” the implementation of abortion and sexual
orientation as a “universal human right” which activists want codified
in international law. Although the Beijing “Platform for Action” is
theoretically non-binding on nations, the U.N. is calling for
“international monitoring” of the progress nations are making in
implementing the provisions of the “Platform.”

Members of Congress who sit on the advisory board of the Women
Leaders Online include Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., Rep. Carolyn Maloney,
D-N.Y., Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y. and former Rep. Geraldine Ferraro,
D-N.Y.

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