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Friday, September 12, 2008

Eucharist Desecrated, Sarah Palin impaled

Recently it was reported that a biology professor at the Morris campus of the University of Minnesota (Hint: don't send your kids there) made good on his announced plans to desecrate the Holy Eucharist. This was reported by Bill Donohue of the Catholics League (www.catholicleague.org), who protested strongly to the University, but to no avail. The poor misguided soul (the biology professor) on July 24, 2008, drove a rusty nail through a consecrated Host, and posted a picture of it on his blog.

I was horrified, since this is the deliberate mishandling of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The professor believed that the "cracker" had no power, but the reason he was so easily able to desecrate the Host is the same reason that Our Lord allowed Himself to be led like a Lamb to the slaughter, the same reason that He allowed Judas to betray Him to the Sanhedrin of his time, and the same reason that countless Christian martyrs have given their lives to witness to the reality of God's presence in the Holy Eucharist. When Pontius Pilate boasted that he had power over Jesus Christ, Our Lord's response was that he would not have it except that it was given to him from above.
Yet my husband’s response to this desecration was, “Ho Hum, more of the same.” He said calling the Host a “cracker” was common in anti-Catholic sources. I never came across this stuff before. But recently, I have been reading “The Devotion to the Sacred Heart” by Fr. John Croiset, S.J., a book published in 1691 and written during the lifetime of the visionary St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, published by Tan Books. Fr. Croiset is angry about the desecration the Holy Eucharist in his time, and before. “The first distribution of Holy Communion at the Last Supper was dishonored by the most horrible of all sacrileges (Judas reception of Communion and subsequent betrayal of Jesus Christ, which is deicide.), and this horrible sacrilege has been followed during the ages by all the outrages and profanations that Hell could invent. Not only have people lost all respect for Jesus Christ on our altars, not only have they treated Him as a mock king and ridiculed His divinity (Crowning of Thorns), not only have they pillaged, demolished and burned the churches where He had condescended to remain constantly for the love of men, and the altars on which He immolated Himself every day for them; not only have they broken, melted down, and profaned the sacred vessels which have a thousand times served for the dread Sacrifice of the Mass; but they have even dragged on the ground and trampled under foot His adorable Body in the Consecrated Hosts and -- what should horrify devils, and even monsters worse than devils – they have pierced these Consecrated Hosts with knives thousands of times.”
Do you remember the story in the Old Testament of King Belshazzar, who ordered the vessels of gold and silver which his father, King Nebuchadnezzar, had pillaged from the Temple in Jerusalem to be brought into the king so he, his wives, his servants and his entertainers might drink from them? They were praising their gods while drinking from the vessels, which was a sacrilege, and suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the wall. This terrified the king, and no one could read the message until they called for the Jewish prophet Daniel. Daniel gave him the message, “Mene, Tekel, and Peres.” Sorry king, you have not humbled yourself before God, and you have profaned the sacred vessels of God’s Holy Temple. “Mene: God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it. Tekel: you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Peres: Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” (Daniel 5: 26-28) And that very night Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, was slain.
Let us pray for our biology professor. However, less we become complacent, Fr. Croiset goes on concerning the outrages against the Holy Eucharist, “O my Savior, how many Catholics there are who treat Thee scarcely less insultingly! Abomination penetrates even into the Holy of Holies. It is difficult to say which of the two treats Jesus Christ with greater impiety and ingratitude, the heretic who profanes our churches in which he believes that Jesus Christ is not really present, or the Catholic who, while making profession of believing, presents himself before Jesus Christ with so little respect.” “People discuss news and business matters even at the foot of the altar, and must we confess, O my God, to the shame of our age, that there are even Catholics who are guilty of abominable and impious conversation in the church? Some people assist at Mass as they would at a profane show . . . After a perfunctory genuflection, they sit down and often talk. Behold the homage, the gratitude, the return of love which Jesus Christ receives from a large number of Christians!” He goes on at great length, but you get the idea. And all this happened in 1691. Déjà Vue.
Now we have the matter of the hatred that has been shown to Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin. People wonder why the media is so mean to her. They have said she should stay home with her five kids and not work. One man called into a talk show and made this point. The host asked if he wanted Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Sen. Biden to have stayed home with his small children after his wife died. The answer was, “No” because Sen. Biden didn’t have a Down’s syndrome baby." Ah, the root of the problem with Sarah is that she didn’t kill her handicapped son, Trig Paxson Van Palin, when he was completely helpless in the womb and could not defend himself. So Trig is much like that “cracker” stabbed with a rusty knife by a biology professor from the University of Minnesota (don’t send your kids there.) Except that he was given to a family who made the decision to cherish and love him. Catholics, let us cherish and love Our Lord Jesus Christ in the same manner, and seek to see and serve Him in our children, friends, family and enemies. Susan Fox

Sunday, September 7, 2008

St. Thomas More: A Sign of Courage for Our Time

--> by Susan Fox

I have been a daily Mass going Catholic since the age of 13. But yet in my teens and my twenties I yet was a relativist. I believed firmly in my faith and lived my life accordingly. But if a friend of mine told me of their plans to commit a serious sin, I said, “That’s cool. That’s your business.” In short, relativism which holds that everyone’s opinion is correct and there is no objective right and wrong, leads to the sin of omission.

Relativism began to creep into our culture with the Reformation. Somehow denying the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the authority of the Magisterium and the role of the human mother of Jesus in our sanctification that brought about many of the evils we face in our culture today.
What is fascinating is the life of the Catholic martyr St. Thomas More, who suffered and died on the the cusp of the Reformation actually foreseeing the horror that would befall the world because almost every prominent Catholic of his age except himself and Bishop John Fisher were willing to sign a piece of paper saying that King Henry the VIII was the head of the Church of England. Thomas More had to spend 15 months in the Tower of London facing the possibility of a beheading for his stubborn position. And while there, we must believe he suffered the Agony in the Garden all over again, and wrote about it in a book called “The Sadness of Christ.” I highly recommend this book.
Born in 1477 in England, More was the son of a lawyer who became a lawyer. He lived in a time when everyone thought that marriage was a concession to weakness. As a result, many were lured by romantic images of grandeur and glory associated with priestly and religious life. More considered it a grave problem that the Catholic Church did not adequately test those who thought they had a vocation. He judged that half the Church’s problems in those days could be traced to the fact that there were too many priests.

Growing up in London at the peak of the Middle Ages, More did not have any attractive or compelling models of people who consciously set out to achieve Christian perfection in and through marriage. He did have many attractive models of priests who achieved sanctity by renouncing the world. To some extent More actually never shook completely this prejudice of his age that marriage was not a path to sainthood.

But in his early 20s he lived near the London Charterhouse, a Carthusian monastery, where he participated in the monk’s life of prayer, and learned their austere ways of living. He learned from the best spiritual masters in the London of his time. Many of these Carthusians later joined More in suffering death and some torture rather than reject their Catholic faith. But More discerned through these men that he was called to marriage. He became in his own words “a chaste husband rather than a licentious priest.” But he continued the practices of prayer and mortification he learned there throughout his life, actually wearing a hair shirt until his death.

The manner in which he chose his wife was unusual too. He picked her based on the good character of her parents. Jane Colt, age 17, was the oldest of 11 daughters, but More was actually attracted to her younger sister first. But feeling that it would be an insult if the younger sister married first he fixed his interest on the eldest. Unfortunately, she had not been educated as had been More, who at age 27 was already an accomplished scholar, lawyer and writer. When he set about improving her education, she resisted violently. She repeatedly threw herself on the floor and cried.

More looked for a solution to this problem, so arranged to visit her family and go hunting with her father. The father-in-law did not want to get involved so he told More that he had given her once and for all, and More should simply exercise his rights as a husband and beat her. More responded: “I know my rights as a husband, but I’d prefer to have her cured by your authority.”

So the father-in-law spoke to his daughter, reminded her that she had been a very homely girl, and he had not thought he could find her a husband for her at all. But with great difficulty he’d found the kind of husband any girl would long for. And now she was setting about to rebel against his authority. After that scolding, the girl promptly went down on her knees, begged her father’s forgiveness and did the same with her husband. After that both spouses were devoted to each other as both made the basis of their marriage the pursuit of virtue. Jane died in the sixth year of their marriage leaving More with four little children and no one to care for them. Within one month he married Alice Middleton. Six years his senior, Alice was the best and most virtuous of all the available women he knew. But again she lacked his education, or even his sense of humor. But they came to love each other well because of his kindness and humor.

Just before Jane’s death, (in 1510) More was elected to Parliament, and then Undersheriff of London. This meant that he was hearing hundreds of cases a year as a judge in London where his careful concern for justice got him a reputation as a completely incorruptible judge who would even make decisions against his own family members if they were in the wrong.

After 8 years of serving the common people as undersheriff, More reluctantly joined the king’s service because he saw an opportunity there to end the wars King Henry the VIII had undertaken in his ambition for power. More had known King Henry the VIII since they were boys, and they were good friends. King Henry would sometimes show up at More’s house in Chelsea unexpectedly “to make merry,” have dinner, and then stroll through More’s gardens arm in arm. This prompted More’s son-in-law, Roper, to congratulate him on the extraordinary favor he enjoyed with the King. But in this relationship, Sir Thomas More showed great realism and humility. “Son Roper,” More responded,” I may tell you that I have no cause to be proud because of this; for if my head could win him a castle in France, it should not fail to go.”

More rose to the position of Chancellor of England and the King’s secretary. But King Henry the VIII was getting restless in his 20-year marriage to Queen Catherine, his first wife. While he had had other affairs that had ended amicably without disturbing his marriage, a young woman named Anne Boleyn refused to bed the king, holding out for marriage. Ann Boleyn wanted to be queen in Catherine’s stead. King Henry wanted Ann. The Catholic Church did not grant divorce. What to do?

Ann began feeding the king Protestant texts. These texts said that the king ruled by divine right and not by the will of the people. Despite More’s efforts to constantly remind the king that he had previously spurned these Protestant authors, Henry gradually gave in to the bad advice of a group of straw men who used Henry’s lust to gain power. Amazingly Parliament defended the Church, but the Church’s own governing body gave in. In 1531, Henry was declared Supreme Head of the Catholic Church in England. In 1532 More resigned his office, but did everything he could to avoid confronting the King directly. In 1533, the king’s puppet archbishop approved the king’s divorce. Ann Boleyn had her coronation as queen of England and many Catholic bishops attended. They sent More money for a gown so he could go also, but More sent it back saying diplomatically through a story that he did not want to compromise his virtue. By 1534 Henry was trying to get More indicted for treason against the king. And everyone had to sign a document saying the king was the Supreme Head of the Church of England, or else they faced execution. More’s friends and family signed. All the Roman Catholic bishops in England signed except one, John Fisher, and he was executed as was More. More would not sign.
It is ironic that when More first entered the king’s service, Henry had promised More he would accept the freedom of his conscience. Yet early in his career, More had already realized the danger. He wrote that tyranny comes through sins of omission – respectable people in high positions are guilty of negligence, greed and cowardice. (It is fascinating that in the Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II says that the democratic state has descended to a form of totalitarianism when human life is no longer protected from conception to natural death. “How is it still possible to speak of the dignity of every human person when the killing of the weakest and most innocent is permitted? In the name of what justice is the most unjust of discriminations practiced: some individuals are held to be deserving of defense and others (unborn, handicapped, and aged) are denied that dignity? When this happens, the process leading to the breakdown of a genuinely human co-existence and the disintegration of the state itself has already begun,” Pope John Paul II warned in the Gospel of Life.) More in his writing respectfully pointed out that the Catholic bishops of his time were the ones most at fault. They failed to stand up for the Church’s right to exist independent of the king, a right which had existed in England since the Magna Carta was signed in 1215. But King Henry tempted by lust turned the Magna Carta on its head.

Locked in the Tower of London, for 15 months before his execution on July 6, 1535, More wrote the “Sadness of Christ.” He had meditated long and hard on the Passion of Christ his whole life. Now, the fruit of that meditation would allow him to go to the gallows telling jokes.

In the Agony in the Garden, More saw a “clear and sharp mirror image” of what occurs in every age. Many of God’s martyrs went to their deaths joyfully, hardly
noticing that they were being killed. But for some reason, the Gospels record that Christ was so full of fear he sweat blood and had to be consoled by an angel. More pondered why Christ, who was God, allowed Himself to show such weakness. Besides He had told his followers not to fear death, but the enemy who can take away eternal life.

More wrote, “For He hardly intended it to mean that they should never under any circumstances recoil from a violent death, but rather that they should not, out of fear, flee from a death which will not last, only to run, by denying the faith into one which will be everlasting.”

He compared this decision for martyrdom when it absolutely cannot be avoided to an amputation. The doctor tells you to endure the momentary pain of the amputation so that you might have the pleasure of health and the avoidance of even more pain. “Indeed, though our Savior Christ commands us to suffer death (when it cannot be avoided) rather than fall away 
from Him through a fear of death (and we do fall away from Him when we publicly deny our faith in Him), still He does not require us to do violence to our nature by not fearing death at all.”

In fact, Jesus said, “If you are persecuted in one city, flee to another.” All of Christ’s disciples did just that until God in His Providence led them to their end. More counsels us not to volunteer to for martyrdom. It is only required if your last remaining choice is to deny God or die.

More said that Christ foresaw that there would be many people of such a delicate constitution that they would be convulsed with terror at the thought of being tortured, so he chose to encourage them by the example of his own sorrow, sadness, weariness and unequalled fear. For these little sheep, Christ deliberately placed the story of His own Agony in the Garden into Scripture by telling it to the apostles after His Resurrection! More concludes there were no
witnesses to the sweating blood of Christ because they were all asleep. Plus he didn’t have time to tell anyone about it until after He was dead. Nevertheless, he wanted us to know of his weakness and fear to encourage his followers in future ages.

More also says that Christ gave us the model for how to deal with imminent danger. He took Peter, James and John and asked them to pray with Him. Then He went a little way and fell face down on the earth and prayed. By this passage, Christ taught us when assailed by fear that we should ask others to watch and pray and still place our trust in God alone. That was wise in Jesus’ case because the men he asked to watch and pray with him that night, Peter, James and John, they fell asleep. They loved Jesus intensely, but they fell asleep.

More gives us a lesson on prayer at this point. Imagine, you have committed a crime of high treason, and you are seeking a pardon from President Bush to commute the death sentence. Stroll around. If courtesy requires you to kneel first, request someone put a cushion under your knees. Then yawn, spit, sneeze and belch. In short, while talking to President Bush, conduct yourself in such a fashion that he can see you are clearly thinking of something else. What success could we hope from such an approach? “And do we think it is reasonable, when we have been caught committing a whole series of far more serious crimes, to beg pardon so contemptuously from the king of all kings, God Himself, who when He has destroyed our bodies has the power to send both body and soul together to hell?”

More says it’s okay to pray while walking, etc. as long as we turn our hearts and minds to God while doing so. He strongly recommends nevertheless that we also put aside time to prepare for serious prayer and pray in a more reverent posture.

The point of the interactions between Jesus and the Apostles, however, is that we must pray constantly because Satan seeks to sift us like wheat. More sees this passage of Scripture where Jesus keeps returning to the apostles and asking them to stay awake and pray as an admonition to the future pastors of the Church “not to allow themselves the slightest wavering, out of sadness or weariness or fear, in their diligent care of their flock, but rather to conduct themselves so as to prove in actual fact that they are not so much concerned for themselves as for the welfare of their flock.”

More lived during the time of Martin Luther and other false Protestant reformers of the Catholic Church, who seeing her faults sought to destroy her rather than make her better. So when he reads the passage in Scripture, “And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven to strengthen Him,” he thinks about those who think it’s futile to seek the intercession of an angel or a departed saint because we can confidently pray directly to God Himself. How many times have you been told that Catholics worship Mary because they pray to her? This is the fruit of that thinking in the Reformation.

More says these so-called Christians “express their envious displeasure at the glory of the saints. . . Why should these shameless men not follow the same line of reasoning here and argue that the angel’s effort to offer consolation to our Savior Christ was utterly pointless and superfluous?” More argued that Christ had a twofold purpose in relating this experience to the apostles after His death. He wanted us to know that He, who brought men back from the dead, was God, yes, but also a man, who experienced fear until the point of sweating blood and needing an angel’s consolation. Moreover, Christ wanted to give us hope that when we are in danger, we cannot lack consolation as long as we pray – not in a lazy and perfunctory way – but sighing and praying from the bottom of our hearts as Christ did.

More says there seems to be two kinds of martyrs. Those who go bravely to their execution filled with joy. Think of St. Lawrence the Deacon, who being grilled on an oven, joked with his captors, “Turn me over. I’m done on that side.” And then there are those whose knees shake and they are in terrible terror. More says that the ones who are filled with joy are not necessarily better than those who are scared. They simply may be weaker, and God knows it’s the only way they’ll get through the experience, so he gives them that grace. He says, yes, God loves a cheerful giver, but he loved Tobias and Job as well, and they bore their calamities bravely and patiently, but neither of them were exactly jumping for joy in their sufferings.

You’ll be happy to know that while it’s clear that St. Thomas More faced this terrible fear in the Tower of London, on the day of his execution he was merry indeed. His good humor startled and scandalized many. We know five jests he told on the way to the gallows. For instance, one of the officers demanded his upper garment for his fee, meaning his gown. More answered that he should have it, and gave him his cap, saying it was his uppermost garment. One of the sheriff’s gave him a hand to help him up the scaffold, and he said, “When I come down again, let me shift for myself as well as I can.” Also the hangman knelt down and asked for forgiveness for his death as was the custom, More said, “I forgive you, but I promise you that you will never have glory for striking off my head since my neck is so short."

More frequently expressed a desire to “make merry in heaven” with those who betrayed him. He prayed for the grace to think my greatest enemies my best friends. “For the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred.” In the Old Testament Joseph, beloved son of Isaac,
Joseph sold into slavery in Egypt
was sold into slavery in Egypt by his jealous brothers. By this means, he rose to a very high position in Egypt and was able to save all his family from famine.

But nevertheless, in the “Sadness of Christ,” More contrasts sharply Judas being wide awake planning Jesus’ betrayal, while the other 11 were asleep. “Does not this contrast between the traitor and the apostles present to us a clear and sharp mirror image, a sad and terrible view of what has happened throughout the ages form those times even to our own? Why do not bishops contemplate in this scene their own somnolence? Since they
have succeeded in the place of the apostles, would that they would reproduce their virtues just as eagerly as they embrace their authority and as faithfully as they display their sloth and sleepiness! For very many are sleepy and apathetic in sowing virtues among the people and maintaining the truth, while the enemies of Christ in order to sow vices and uproot the faith are wide wake – so much wise are the sons of darkness in their generation than are the sons of light.”

And while the apostles slept out of sadness, many sleep down through the ages even until More’s time “because of a fear of injury to themselves, a fear which is so much the worse as its cause is the more contemptible, that is, when it is not a question of life or death, but of money.” How many times have I heard that we cannot preach against abortion from the pulpit because we will lose our non-profit tax exempt status. The bishop of Arlington, Virginia, some years ago said if money is preventing us from standing up for human life, Catholic Churches should surrender our tax exempt status voluntarily.

And yet Christ commands us not to fear the loss of the body for His sake. “The good shepherd,” says Christ, “lays down
his life for his sheep.” “But” More writes, “if every good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep, certainly one who saves his own life to the detriment of his sheep is not fulfilling the role of a good shepherd.”

Thomas More and brave Bishop John Fisher were not canonized until 1935-- 400 years after their deaths. The Catholic religion which More defended with his life was outlawed in England until 1829. Only in 1850 did England have its Catholic hierarchy restored, and their first act was to request Sir Thomas More be given his due.

Nothing happens accidentally, everything is gifted providentially. G.K. Chesterton said in 1929 that “Blessed Thomas More is more important at this moment than at any moment since his death, even perhaps the great moment of his dying; but he is not quite so important as he will be in about 100 years time.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, St. Thomas More was canonized on the eve of the atrocities of World War II. But he is gaining in popularity now.

What has happened to our world in the meantime! In California, a court has legalized homosexual unions, which will lead to homosexual marriage nationwide because anyone can marry in California, whether resident or not. In Boston, the Catholic Church has been forced to stop handling adoptions because they are required by law to allow homosexuals to adopt. The Anglican Church is ordaining both women and homosexuals as bishops. The remnant of true Catholics in the Anglican religion are petitioning Rome directly to accept them back into the Catholic Church because when they tried to return to the Catholic faith some years before, they were not welcomed by the Catholic bishops in the United Kingdom. In Florida, Terri Schiavo, a handicapped woman was starved to death by a judge who ruled in favor of her estranged husband. Terry’s Catholic bishop would not send a priest to her side when she was dying so a bishop from another diocese in the United States sent one of his bishops. Recently, I heard Jesse Ramirez on the radio, and the same thing happened to him. He was having a fight with his wife over her infidelities. She grabbed the steering wheel on the car he was driving and he ended up in hospital in a vegetative state. She had his feeding tube removed. Jesse had joined his wife’s religion, the LDS, to keep the peace in the family, but he was a lapsed Catholic. So his parents asked the Catholic bishop to give him the last sacraments, but the bishop refused saying Jesse was dead. However, another court stopped the starvation, and Jesse recovered to return to the Catholic faith, receive the sacraments and tell us the story on the radio a few weeks ago.

My dear friends, please do as St. Thomas More said, and pray constantly. Pray for priests. Pray for bishops. Pray for lay Catholics in United States in positions of authority. Ask God to give them the courage of Christ as exemplified in the life of St. Thomas More. Lord, keep us all awake. The only way for these catastrophes to have fallen upon us in our age is because many, many Christians have fallen asleep. Many voters have fallen asleep. Some years ago I was contrasting the persecution we suffer in the Legion of Mary in the U.S. versus China. In China, they imprisoned us, they killed us, they tortured us. In the U.S. we suffer from benign neglect and supreme indifference. But as
St. Thomas More told his family, “We’re not going to heaven in a featherbed.”

Tuesday, September 2, 2008



Some good men and women
From Left: African lobbyists James and Susan Fox
with Guimette, Andre and the UN delegate from Rwanda

by Susan Fox

NEW YORK, March 2000 --- Evil is cast into confusion when good men and women take a firm stand.

That's what happened when a valiant group of pro-life Catholics, Mormons, Evangelicals and Muslims, fighting alongside the Holy See, stopped the United Nations from declaring abortion an international human right in March, 2000.

My son, James, age 12, and I were privileged to be asked by the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute to lobby with 330 other people from all over the world March 6-17, 2000, during the preparatory meetings for the special session of the General Assembly entitled "Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century," which were held later in 2000.

Little of what we saw at the UN had anything to do with development and peace. A lot of it had to do with a small group of well-financed Western radical feminists trying to force their agenda for population control down the throats of the developing nations. These were - pure and simple - white people trying to get black people to kill their children. One woman from Holland who now lives in Zimbabwe told me how -- after a war, which decimated the population of an African nation -- the Western nations came in with free "family planning" services: condoms, birth control devices, abortion, all neatly packaged in local storefronts, sporting big blue and white signs, which read, "Population Control."

Using English hard to understand even for native speakers and the intimidation of big money, the governments of the United States, Canada, the European Union, Australia and New Zealand (JUSCANZ) were working to get abortion declared a human right and gay marriages recognized. If they cannot get a consensus to declare abortion a human right, then they want "forced pregnancy" declared an international crime. This does not mean rape. It means any country failing to legalize abortion could be found guilty of human rights abuses against women.

My task was to lobby the French-speaking African nations. These people had a very unpleasant experience of our American culture in the past because they have largely met these aging feminists, and their deadly ideas. One African woman told me she had been taught to respect older people, and so when she met an elderly American woman she had expected great wisdom, but instead she was insulted and told her country was backward because it wouldn't legalize abortion. She was shocked.

The African countries - by and large - are very pro-life and pro-family in stark contrast to the Western governments. We often think of Africa as a place where uncivilized people live. But upon reflection I found that the barbarians are from the West. They dress nicely. They drive fuel-efficient cars, and they live in clean houses. But their wholesale willingness to murder their own children, to spread AIDS through sexual promiscuity and to execute their parents when they are ill or no longer of use to society makes them barbarians. In contrast, the Africans came from large and loving families, and would never dream of taking the life of their mother just because she was sick, or the life of their child because he might be born retarded. They were civilized.

I had extensive conversations with women during my two weeks at the UN about these issues. At a caucus on women's health, I enthusiastically endorsed language to include "chastity education" as a means of stopping the spread of AIDS. But I was told hysterically by the other non-governmental observers (NGOs) that women didn't voluntarily have sex, and they needed to protect themselves with condoms. I -- still believing that women had some autonomy in the world -- asked if the largely pro-abortion crowd assembled at that caucus would have sex if they knew they had AIDS. I naively believed that no one would want to spread the disease to someone they loved, and we all agreed that condoms did not work 100 percent. But I found out instead that this group wanted to have the right to have sex when they had AIDs. One woman stood up, burst into tears and said she had AIDS. She said chastity hadn't worked for her because she had been married 22 years to the same man and still got AIDS (presumably from her husband). And now she needed the "comfort" of a human relationship. Then she proceeded to explain with great care how to use the condom, spermicide, etc. to reduce the risk of spreading AIDS. After that outburst, no one would listen to the words, "chastity education." These women were -- sadly -- completely irrational.

My position during the two weeks was pretty simple. My mother had almost been euthanized by an overzealous and over-compassionate doctor, who prescribed so much pain medication that she almost died from it. He also prescribed drugs that would make her "happy," but were not necessary to cure her illness or her pain. By the time she had her leg amputated last year, narcotics no longer worked as their effectiveness wears off the more the drug is taken. My mother did not have and still does not have a terminal disease.

The worst part of this story is that my closest family sided with the doctor, and felt I was hurting my mother by advocating less pain medication. As it turned out, instead of treating the underlying cause of my mother's pain and high blood pressure, the doctor used pain meds to cover up his lack of medical care. His focus on so-called compassionate care ("You can have all the pain medicine you want!" he said) made him forget to heal the underlying illness. Other doctors later eliminated the pain in the second foot and reduced the blood pressure by proper treatment without pain medication.

In addition, I had a cousin who had almost been aborted because tests during pregnancy showed he might be retarded. (Luckily another test showed he wasn't, and so he is alive today). The Nazis during World War II bundled up retarded children like a sack of potatoes and marched them off to the gas chambers.

Another cousin, who is a nurse in a retirement home, is angry because the doctors won't starve or dehydrate the old people under her care as a means of easing their pain. I have another cousin, whose wife doesn't want any more children with him, but is willing to carry her sister's baby to term as a surrogate mother. I love my family, but I blamed all of their crazy thinking on 30 years of legal abortion in the United States, which has made our people insensitive to the value of life.

One African Catholic, who wanted abortion legalized in her country because she feared the suffering of women seeking back alley abortions, was told what happened to my mother. She said if someone tried to kill her mother with drugs, her whole large family -- cousins, brothers, sisters and uncles -- would rise up and fight. I told her that after 30 years of legal abortion they would be just like my family -- they'd be the first to say give her more pain medication, saying, "Better she die than suffer." She was shocked. At her request, I am sending her a copy of Pope John Paul II's encyclical, "The Gospel of Life."

Another Catholic from a Latin American country proclaimed that she was against abortion, but feared to take a public stand both because of the position of her government and because the Catholic Church in her country did not clearly state that abortion was evil, nor did it stand up against marrying homosexuals. I gave her a copy of the "The Gospel of Life," and promised to send her other encyclicals so she could know what the Catholic Church truly teaches. From this, I learned that we must be very clear in telling people the truth of what the Catholic Church teaches. We cannot hide the light of this Truth under a basket, fearing to offend people.

Our witness as mother and son was quite powerful in this environment because I was a newspaperwoman who gave up my career to care for my son in 1991. We were the only homeschooling pair there lobbying the United Nations. Homeschooling made this trip possible for the both of us because most children cannot take two weeks off of school in March, and most of their mothers must be at home to care for them. Even some of the pro-abortion NGOs were very impressed by this fact. It was the first time they had heard of homeschooling.

Our power lay in the fact that we were not paid (we were volunteers) and our trip was financed by ordinary people like ourselves from America! The pro-abortion NGOs were paid and they stayed at the best hotels at the expense of some very well-financed abortion organizations. One delegate, whom I befriended from the Sudan, kept asking me who I worked for. When I explained that I didn't work, but taught my son in the home (the feminists called motherhood "unremunerated work"), she threw back her head and laughed with joy. "Why you are nobody! You have great power." She was a devout Muslim.

My 12-year-old son chose to wear a suit and tie everyday to the UN, and he looked like a million dollars. I was speaking to the Ambassador from Burundi telling him about the homeschooling, our family life, and the damage that 30 years of legal abortion had done to my family. He had six children. At the end of the conversation, James walked up, and the Ambassador -- visibly impressed by his appearance -- said with pride, "Why is this -- your son?"

Another time we were lobbying against homosexual marriages, and I told an African woman this story of my job with the San Francisco Examiner. I said there were many gay men who worked there who were dying of AIDS. Many were my friends. But one day, one of them was in the elevator with a vial of ashes showing it to another woman. I exclaimed, "Why, is that a human being?" And the boy responded proudly, "Yes, this is my lover, and I carry him with me everywhere."

I explained to the African woman that the fruit of the boy's relationship with that man was ashes, but James was the fruit of my relationship with my husband. And James obligingly grinned and asked her if she wouldn't rather have him than ashes. She was rolling on the floor with laughter.

The feminists harassed James a little by questioning him. This gave him no end of joy. He told me later, that being at the United Nations and witnessing for the unborn was probably the "best thing I've ever done in my life." He was the youngest NGO there -- only 12 years old.

I often had to apologize for my government to the African delegates and others I chanced to meet. While I was there, the Clinton Administration sponsored a press conference for Catholics for a Free Choice (a non-Catholic pro-abortion group). They argued that the Holy Father, who has held a seat on the United Nations since 1964 as a permanent observer, should no longer hold this status. As a permanent observer, the Holy Father is sometimes the only voice against abortion language in the documents simply because the Third World delegates do not recognize subtle pro-abortion language in English, or they are being intimidated by the Western Nations. I myself witnessed the Holy Father's delegation oppose language that would have guaranteed international abortion, and it was the only delegation in opposition. The UN cannot do anything without a complete consensus, so one objection puts the offending language in brackets, and that means it is not part of the approved document. Subsequently, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops reminded the world that Catholics For a Free Choice is not a Catholic group. Hurray for the American bishops!

Our goal during those two weeks in March: stop the feminists from putting pro-abortion language in the document. We succeeded. However, the governments of the developed nations also succeeded in preventing the Third World nations and the Holy Father from putting pro-family language in the document as well. It was a stand-off.

However, our presence in great force also had another side benefit: it rattled the other side. During the second week, 30 brothers and priests from Fr. Benedict Groeschel's Grey Friars showed up in full grey habit and beards. Meeting and seeing these holy men was very encouraging for our side. We all had been disturbed during the previous week when we had the duty of interacting at the caucuses with the pro-abortion women.

But the brothers’ presence did not console the other side. It disturbed the pro-abortion NGOs, who said that allowing men in Catholic habits into the United Nations should not be allowed because it was an "excessive show of religion." The brothers' presence actually made them feel they were being stalked, followed home, and their phones tapped.

Perhaps their feelings could best be understood from the point of view of St. Ignatius of Loyola. He stated that as a soul is growing closer to God, the action of the evil spirit disturbs it, but the good spirit consoles it. On the other hand, as a person draws away from God, the action of the evil spirit consoles it, and the good spirit disturbs it. This action is manifested through ordinary circumstances like our pro-life presence at the UN.

These pro-abortion lobbyists were God's children too! And He was lovingly calling them back to Himself through the witness of the holy brothers obediently wearing their habits. And that meant they would be disturbed in the process. It was God saying, "Wake up! You are almost dead, but not yet. Come back to Me." Not only the brothers, but all 330 people there, including James and myself, managed to disturb these ladies because God was using us, too.

One of my fellow French lobbyists, a lovely young girl, was simply handing a lobbying document to a delegate and one of the pro-abortion NGOs walked up to her ripped the document out of her hand and tore it up in front of her. This NGO was very disturbed by my friend. Or was it really my friend that disturbed her? Perhaps it was only God, Our Father, who wanted the NGO back with Himself and was calling to her. That's why the Gospel of Matthew tells us that the persecuted are blessed! "Rejoice!" is to be our response to this kind of hatred. And if we love our fellow man, we do have to rejoice in their disturbance at good things.

The examples of this kind of movement of God were numerous. I concluded that goodness simply needs to take a firm stand. It does not have to scream or shout or have a temper tantrum. Simply stand firm, humbly in the Truth, and watch the other side scramble.

The outcome of this, however, is that the pro-abortion forces have moved to prevent us from returning in force again. There are a lot of pro-abortion groups accredited to the United Nations as NGOs, but there are very few pro-life groups accredited. So when we went in we were accredited by this handful of organizations. (The funny side of this story is that the Grey friars were accredited by a pro-life group called Real Women of Canada, a fact which outraged the other side when they found out. They said these men had no right to represent women! But the pro-abortion side, including men, was running around with buttons that read "F.A.K.E. WOMEN.")

Now they have closed the barn door behind us by limiting the number of people who can be accredited from each group to three. The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, which organized our training and our witness there, has concluded that they can do nothing to stop this as they are outgunned financially. People like Ted Turner are donating billions of dollars to population programs, abortion, etc.

Never doubt we are locked in a battle involving principalities and spirits. When we were first there the pro-abortion NGOs had their youth do a "Right to Chose" dance which was very pagan, using some of the gestures and sounds of witchcraft rituals. But later in the week, the Holy Father sent in a priest, who quietly performed an exorcism for us in the gallery when no one was around. We gathered around the priest: Catholics, Mormons, Evangelicals and Muslims. It was one of the little helps that God sent us to console us when we were being disturbed by the thinking of the other side.

Our youth caucus proved to be very successful. Accredited through the World Youth Alliance, they were about 30 young people, age 15 to 30, from all over the world. They forced the pro-abortion youth to develop a consensus in the youth caucus -- it yielded a document that would only represent things concerning women that both sides could agree on.

After dealing with the World Youth Alliance, one of the pro-abortion youth said all of her hope had been taken away because these (pro-life) youth represented the future leaders of the world, and "they don't agree with us." We all said, "Aww, too bad."

The International Struggle for the Unborn Continued

by Susan Fox
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. (Matt.5:8)
New York, April 3-7, 2006 -- One might hesitate to begin a story about the United Nations’ 39th session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) with such a quote, but I really did meet CPD delegates who shone with this beatitude – perhaps not perfectly, but they shone. They were all pro-life.
The delegate from Haiti, for instance, was Catholic and pro-life, quite willing to talk to me, but because his country was not pro-life, he could offer little help. Nevertheless, he accepted a copy of The Gospel of Life by Pope John Paul II and promised to give it to his wife -- a Catholic physician.
One South African delegate was pro-life, while her country was not. I gave her a red rose, affirming human life, and she received it readily. But when I asked for her help, she told me she was part of a delegation which led the Group of 77, mostly composed of Third World countries. Not only that, but her delegation was charged with impartiality because of their leadership role. I asked her if she was a person of prayer. She nodded shyly. “Then do that,” I said. She agreed.
This was the third UN conference I participated in as a non-governmental observer (NGO) for a coalition of pro-life, pro-family NGOs under the leadership of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-Fam). Members of my family did not accompany me on this trip, but fellow home-schooling mother Kim Kunasek of Phoenix did. I was privileged to be able to travel with her. It made the week so much more enjoyable.
The 39th session was on migration. So from a lobbying perspective our goal was to initially remain hidden. If we made too much noise right off the bat, we might inadvertently bring in language that promoted abortion. So early in the week I focused on meeting the delegates, and then I could use my contacts later in the week when the lobbying was underway. Our goal was to get them to reaffirm “the report of the ICPD” in its entirety. It’s probably a difficult lobbying position to explain outside the UN.
But in 1994 in Cairo, Egypt, the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) created the Commission on Population and Development and charged it with the task of monitoring the implementation of its “Programme of Action.” By itself, the “Programme” is ambiguous on the issue of abortion. It recommended that women be given access to “reproductive health services.” The pro-abortion lobby always says that doesn’t include abortion, but then UN agencies use the term, “reproductive health services” to pressure countries to legalize abortion.
However, the ICPD report in its entirety, that is, the ICPD plus 47 reservations submitted by numerous countries was a very pro-life document. In order for the UN to create new international law, every country involved has to approve of the final wording of the document. Reservations on specific issues mean that there is no agreement on that issue. The pro-life issue had 20 reservations, so the ICPD in reality did not create a new human right – the right to abortion. Yet many UN agencies use the ICPD to pressure countries to legalize abortion, prostitution, overturn parental rights, prosecute medical workers who won’t perform abortions, etc.
Here are some of the pro-life reservations of the 1994 ICPD:
The reservation of the Latin American countries, which were at that time overwhelmingly pro-life, read, “Because our countries are mainly Christian, we consider that life is given by the Creator and cannot be taken unless there is a reason which justifies it being extinguished. For this reason …we consider that life must be protected from the moment of conception.”
The country of Jordan clarified in its reservation that when the ICPD mentions “couples,” they understood it to mean “married couples.” The Vatican and other countries did also affirm the sacrament of marriage as the basis for referring to two people as a “couple.”
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya expressed a reservation about the term, “unwanted pregnancies” “because our written Constitution does not allow the State to undertake abortions unless the mother’s health is in danger.”
Nicaragua said it accepted the concepts of “family planning,” “sexual health,” “reproductive health,” “reproductive rights,” and “sexual rights” except “when they include abortion or termination of pregnancy as a component.”
Paraguay didn’t mince words: “The right to life is the inherent right of every human being from conception to natural death.”
Needless to say, in 1994, the United States made no reservations to this document because under President Bill Clinton, we were promoting abortion worldwide.
Now it is 2006, and the U.S. is pro-life and some Latin American countries are emerging as socialist nations on the Castro model and they are therefore pro-death. The African nations are allowing restricted abortion, and the Muslim countries are some of our staunchest allies on the issue of abortion. In this and past conferences, it was Syria, Lebanon and Egypt that really fought for the world’s children. Egypt hosted the 1994 ICPD, and was greatly embarrassed when it produced a document that could be interpreted as pro-abortion. Therefore, ever since, the representatives of this country have been fierce fighters for the pro-life cause.
One of the proposed resolutions for the 39th session of the CPD was to reaffirm the 1994 ICPD “Programme of Action.” While that might seem like harmless boilerplate language, it actually was an aggressive pro-abortion statement because a reference to the “Programme of Action” does not include the pro-life reservations. A reference to “the Report” of the ICPD does. Therefore our lobbying went something like this: Defend your national sovereignty. Make sure the final document this week includes the whole report of the ICPD, a document subject to 47 written and oral reservations, 20 of which related to reproductive health.
Actually, we started by lobbying them to keep the focus on migration by reaffirming only the relevant chapters of the ICPD relating to migration because that was, after all, the topic of the session. But that idea was discarded by the delegates early in the week.
You may ask why we didn’t try to get positive pro-life language into the document. Well, that’s a very interesting question. During this week, our lobbying team included a gaggle of Mexican school girls, a young Canadian, who headed one of the biggest pro-life lobbying groups in Canada (I was accredited under that group), Jeanne Head, R.N., the UN representative of National Right to Life, four men and one young woman from United Families International and Samantha Singson, who now heads the New York office of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute. I was also there with Kim Kunasek, and my old friend, Janet Cook also of Phoenix. I met Janet in 2000 at my first UN lobbying experience in New York. Kim, Janet and I were all from Arizona. So were the four gentlemen from United Families. It was a coincidence.
And those four gentlemen led by Doug Clark did create a pro-family resolution, which the delegates from the United States agreed to try and put it in the final document. It was a very simple paragraph stating that the family is the basic unit of society: “Recognizing the ICPD’s emphasis on the family as the basic unit of society and noting the effect of international migration and development on the family…” Some members of our pro-life team feared that introducing something like that could provoke the opposite response, that is, the world could be pushed to put pro-abortion language in the document. But by the grace of God, that didn’t happen. Neither did the family language make it despite strenuous efforts by the U.S. representatives. Now this is very shocking because even the Programme of Action of the ICPD, which was literally drafted by a consensus of the whole world in 1994, referred to the family as the basic unit of society.
In just 12 short years, the world has lost its direction. No one can agree that the family is the basic unit of society. But we have to applaud the courage of United Families for making the effort, and the Bush Administration for fighting for it.
Most of the meeting was about international migration. So we heard talks on the so-called “brain drain” – that is educated medical and other personnel from Third World countries moving to developed nations. We heard talks on remittances, that is, money that immigrants send home to their families. The socialist countries wanted to figure out how to tax this money. The (American) capitalists showed how this money actually produces new investment in the home country because the recipient uses it to buy groceries. And another citizen can open a grocery store for the migrant’s family. From the capitalist point of view, even the brain drain was good for developing countries because the people left behind filled the positions in their countries left by the departing “brains,” and therefore the whole population developed.
The best talk at this conference was given by the papal nuncio appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. Archbishop Celestino Migliore has been given the UN as his sole responsibility. That means the United States now has two apostolic nuncios in residence, one for the UN and one for the U.S. It was a treat to be at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Sunday morning on April 2nd as Archbishop Migliore concelebrated Mass with New York Cardinal Edward Egan. Then during the week the archbishop could be seen walking around the UN very informally.
On April 4th, he delivered an indirect sermon against abortion and contraception: “Dire predictions as to the future composition and sustainability of the projected human global population led to radical population polices, which have been responsible for different but equally grave dilemmas … falling birth rates, and the creation of imbalances between men and women… If the development of the world’s peoples is to be …sane, such flawed policies will have to be replaced by truly people-centered ones.” In other words, in the 1970s, we were all told to fear the “population explosion,” but three decades later, we are coping with the effects of a population implosion. Through sex-selection abortions, China is raising a generation of men without women, and Europe’s populations are shrinking rapidly, making them heavily dependent on immigration. “Due to low fertility, net migration counts for three quarters of the population growth in developed countries and by 2030, migration may account for all population growth in those countries,” the archbishop said, predicting “radical consequences” for the composition of entire nations.
Delegates from each country split into two closed committees, one working on the substance of the document and the other working on the methods of work. This latter committee was very contentious because the UN Population Fund, a big source of pro-abortion activity in the world, was looking for a larger role in the work of the Commission on Population and Development. That would have been disastrous for the pro-life side.
I remember praying to God to help us with the final document during the week, but if we couldn’t get something pro-life then let them get nothing. It was interesting because on Friday the best we got on the substance was that they did reference the whole “Report of the ICPD” in a footnote (not good according to our leaders). And we heard that Egypt was going to add a reservation saying that the final report should reference the whole report of the ICPD. We were rejoicing about that much, but then the whole Group of 77 walked out of the meeting and went home, and it looked like there would be no document produced by the Commission of Population and Development. But the rest of the countries continued meeting Friday night and then on May 10.
I have since obtained a copy of the final report of the 39th session of the Commission on Population and Development. We did get our footnote referencing the whole report of the ICPD. The word family does not appear anywhere in the report. They really didn’t create any new methods of work. They did not give the UN Population Fund a bigger role in the work of the Commission. That is interesting because we --- the pro-life lobbyists -- were escorted from the closed meetings when we tried to break in (yes, I crashed a closed meeting). But the UN Population Fund lobbyists – pro-abortionists par excellente – were always inside these meetings.
From the perspective of evangelizing the world, it was a wonderful week. First there was Esther from Ghana. She was a devout Protestant with four sons and holding the highest position in her country in charge of population. She asked me why Catholics – who oppose contraception -- own a contraception factory. Mystified, I responded that many Catholic don’t practice their religion properly, but that the Church does not officially own a “contraception factory.” She understood the concept of individuals not following their own faith, but promised to get back to me with the information on the factory we owned. The end of the week I gave her a red rose (symbol for pro-life) and we hoped to talk together again, but never could because I was lobbying, and she was in meetings.
This past summer Esther called me from Africa. By the grace of God, I was in the shower, and my husband, Lawrence, answered the phone. He said she asked him if Natural Family Planning was a pill. He explained Natural Family Planning to her. When I got out of the shower, I heard him shouting into the bad connection on the phone, “No, there are times during the month when your husband respects you, and leaves you alone so you won’t conceive.” “It’s because of his love and esteem for you,” he added. I could have hugged him! How wonderful to have a good Christian man answer her questions. She was still confused though, and he recommended she speak to a Catholic priest. We must pray for Esther.
We had a beautiful young woman on our lobbying team. Marin was reading the Da Vinci Code in her spare time. The movie was not yet released. She knew I was Catholic, and so she asked me about Opus Dei, the Catholic lay organization started by Msg. Jose Escrivá. Some of you may know that Opus Dei is the evil villain in the tortured anti-Catholic plot of the Da Vinci Code. I explained to her that Opus Dei means “Work of God,” and it was a wonderful Catholic organization dedicated to teaching lay people to give their ordinary daily work to God. The very next day after this conversation, when I was standing in the lobby outside the meeting of the Group of 77, Kim, who was helping me hand out red roses, said, “Look at that man. He was at Mass this morning.” So in a pause of the lobbying I approached “that man” and found out he was a member of Opus Dei, in fact a widower, who had dedicated himself to God and would never remarry. He was an economist from the University of Cadiz in Spain, attending a conference at the UN on international trade. We, of course, told Marin right away of the encounter.
During most of the week, the lobbying seemed more difficult than usual. Many times, Kim and I would be the first on the scene in the morning to lobby as people went into their meetings because we were staying across the street at the UN Millennium Plaza Hotel, and the others lived some distance away or had found cheaper digs at some distance. They always told horror stories of being in cabs stuck in traffic jams. Kim and I walked a block to daily Mass at the UN’s parish, Holy Family, every morning and were already at the UN by 8:45 a.m.
On one such morning, we parked ourselves outside the door of a critical migration meeting, which would be closed to us, and greeted everyone on the way in. Surprisingly, I had not seen these delegates before. Their cards showed they were higher up in the delegation than the ones we were meeting earlier in the week. This therefore was an important meeting. I was careful to say nothing to France. France is on the opposing side, and we were not supposed to tip off the enemy to our presence. But then I met Andrei from Belarus, and he was pro-life. I begged him to stand up for the pro-life cause in the meeting and told him that while many supported the right to life, they were afraid to say anything. He promised to try. The problem was that Belarus probably didn’t have much clout in that meeting. That was the story of the whole week – the pro-life delegates were from countries without power or countries that were pro-death. The U.S. was pro-life, but seemed to be isolated. A South African delegate told me it was actually fashionable to be against the positions of the United States. Everyone wanted to be accepted by their peers. How funny that sentiment did not afflict the world when Bill Clinton was president. Then everyone was happy to be on the U.S. side on abortion.
The U.S. delegate is Roman Catholic and works for the Bush Administration. He is often our source for what is going on in the closed meetings. You have to understand that we often sat in a group, and this was dictated by Jeanne Head of National Right to Life. She has been lobbying at these conferences for decades, and acts as the younger lobbyists’ mentor and leader. It is not easy to stay in a group outside closed meetings from early in the morning to late at night especially since these meetings are held in the smoking area. The world has not embraced the American distain for smoking. However, sitting in a group really pays off. The U.S. delegate showed us this.
He told us of a conversation he had with an anti-life German delegate. The delegate looked at us--sitting in a big group (including many young people)—and complained about the size of our group. (The anti-life lobbyists were present at this meeting but did not sit in a group.) The U.S. delegate basically told him he hadn’t seen anything yet because of the demographics. Only pro-lifers are having children, so there are tons of young people growing up pro-life. The German man groaned.
I had a similar experience later in the week. The radically pro-life Egyptians weren’t on the CPD this year, and so I tried to find a Middle Eastern substitute and settled on the delegate from Lebanon, also pro-life, but very unsure of himself. Nevertheless, he proved helpful at the end of the week in terms of telling us what happened with the Group of 77 leaving, and as we were talking he pointed at our group and asked me who all those people were. I said, “Why, they are all here to support the pro-life cause.” And he expressed his amazement that all those Americans/Canadians/Mexicans were pro-life! I introduced him to Jeanne.
It was the same story with the Indonesian delegate. He read my pro-life business card, looked at me, and said skeptically, “You are against abortion?”
I said very firmly, “Yes.”
“You believe in marriage between one man and one woman?”
“Yes, absolutely,” I replied. He looked shocked. Some Muslims, unfortunately, do not have a very good opinion of the American woman. Just being there with my wedding ring and my little pro-life, pro-family business card was a very important witness.

Arizona couple lobbies the UN for the unborn during the week Pope John Paul II died and was buried.

"I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10).
By Susan Fox
New York, April 2-8, 2005 – It was the week that Pope John Paul II died and was buried. Shortly, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger would be elected Pope Benedict XVI.
Lawrence & Susan Fox 

During that critical week, my husband, Lawrence Fox, and I were in New York City at the United Nations, lobbying for the pro-life cause with the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute. We were secretly wearing St. Benedict medals (with the exorcism blessing) and openly handing out copies of “The Gospel of Life” by Pope John Paul II.

We had no idea how symbolic that would become for what occurred next both in the papacy and at the 38th session of the UN Commission on Population and Development. We were about to face what our future Pope Benedict would call the “dictatorship of relativism.” The conference was on HIV/AIDS, but the abortion lobby planned to use this conference and all UN conferences – no matter how unrelated the subject matter might be – to establish a universal right to abortion in every country on earth. We were there to stop them.

The week began at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Saturday, April 2, 2005. We were in line for confession when Pope John Paul II passed away. New Yorkers, who try not to show their emotions, were seen nevertheless with tears in their eyes.

The next day was Mercy Sunday, and at 3 p.m., the hour of Divine Mercy, we were holed up in the basement of the Salvation Army in New York City with our fellow volunteers -- Catholics, Protestants, and Mormons -- from all over the world. Pope John Paul II had asked for volunteers in the early 1990s to come to the UN and speak for the unborn child. 

Since then the Holy Spirit had stirred up countless ordinary people from all over the world to go to the UN conferences and work quietly to change the minds of the delegates, and to strengthen some in their pro-life stance.

We were moved to see around the table that afternoon what has been called the “ecumenism of the trenches”: a Baptist woman with 8 children, who works full time and uses Natural Family Planning, a young Catholic woman, who had paid for her own trip from Australia, two Protestant ladies, who are living martyrs in their own country of Canada for the pro-life cause, an Evangelical lawyer and three people from the pro-life Population Research Institute, and others. Later in the week we would be working with students from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, a Mormon lawyer and Capuchin brothers from Fr. Benedict Groeschel’s Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in the Bronx.

But the news wasn’t good. The lawyer told us that the pro-abortion lobby was using stealth to influence customary international law. Mere repetition of legal norms over time can result in the development of customary international law, which scholars believe is even more binding on countries than treaties – even if those nations do not formally consent to be bound by the law, thereby bypassing the democratic process and the national sovereignty of a country.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already begun quoting international customary law. On March 1 of this year, the U. S. Supreme Court outlawed the death penalty for youth under the age of 18, overturning the capital punishment law of 20 states. The majority decision included references to international opposition to the juvenile death penalty.

Justice Anthony Kennedy justified the use of international customary law in this Supreme Court decision by sayings, “The opinion of the world community, while not controlling our outcome, does provide respected and significant confirmation for our own conclusions."

While ending the death penalty for youth may be a good cause, the fact of the matter is that every voter in the United States is disenfranchised when the Supreme Court looks to world opinion rather than the U.S. Constitution to create new law.

In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned anti-sodomy laws in 13 states, possibly paving the way for homosexual marriage, and again referenced international customary law by quoting a 1981 decision in the European Court of Human Rights to justify the decision.

The week before we left for the UN, we had had to watch helplessly while Terry Schiavo, a vulnerable handicapped adult, was murdered by what pro-lifers now call “judicial homicide” even while our executive and legislative branches of government tried fruitlessly to save her.

Therefore, the information that the government of our country, and all the countries of the world, were falling into the hands of a small liberal elite was very disturbing news. But many pro-life delegates at the UN were largely asleep to this issue.
Our lobbying papers urged the delegates to clarify that the goals for world development approved at world conferences in Cairo and Beijing in the 1990s did not create a right to abortion. The amendment was necessary, we said, because those documents were being systematically misinterpreted to promote abortion worldwide.

We heard the echo of this push in the talks given by the European Union and others. They spoke of the need for countries to provide “safe motherhood,” while lamenting the fact that women die from “unsafe abortions.” It was an oxymoron.

But it proved an excellent arguing point for my husband, who asked many people what they would think if they went to an eye doctor and the first thing he did was poke out both of their eyes. That is what occurs when the world talks about “reproductive rights and services” and “safe motherhood.” You would think they are talking about bringing healthy, happy babies into the world, but they are actually talking about the children's murder.

Some countries did speak out in favor of human life, but they did not support our amendment because they felt that if another country interpreted reproductive rights to include abortion, that would not affect their national sovereignty. Our job was to tell them it would indeed. So we told them about the Supreme Court, and how our voters, living in what might be considered the greatest democracy in history, were being disenfranchised by “world opinion.”

On Mercy Sunday night before our actual lobbying began, I remember telling my husband, “Honey, I feel alone and abandoned by the whole world.” It was a kind of spiritual trial, but God had not forgotten us.

My husband, Larry, and I, have been doing door-to-door evangelization for the Catholic Church for over 20 years. So we began to meet and greet people on Monday morning. 

Many of the friendships we began on Monday continued through the week, and enabled us to hand out critical lobbying documents to certain countries as late as Thursday.
Lobbying is the fine old art of “waiting around in the lobby for an opportunity” as one seasoned pro-life activist told us. On Tuesday morning, Larry stationed himself outside the conference room where the Commission on Population and Development would meet, and began to pass out our first official lobbying document asking the nations of the world to clarify that the Cairo and Beijing conferences did not create an international right to abortion.

When I came out of the conference room to watch Larry work in the hall, I was amused to see that Lawrence already knew many people, and was making his second contact. Although they were very friendly to his face, later when Lawrence wasn’t watching one Japanese delegate began making fun of the document he had given to her. 

I reflected that one day this delegate would not be laughing. Japan –like most of Europe and parts of Asia – is witnessing a complete demographic meltdown – perhaps the end of its race.

For the first time in human history, mankind has deliberately reduced his fertility. Worse than a nuclear bomb, the culture of death may cause whole populations to disappear. According to UN statistics, 61 countries now face “below replacement fertility,” which means their population is aging and declining through death, abortion and contraception. This is going to create problems in the short run with the nations’ pension funds and health care systems when there are more retired than working people to support them. 

But in the long run, it’s going to mean no more Japanese, no more Swedes, no more Italians, Spanish, French, and fewer South Americans. The United States currently does not have an imploding population. We are teetering at a replacement level birth rate – 2.08 children per woman, which is enough to give us a stable population.

But Japan’s fertility rate is only 1.4 children per woman, well below the required birth rate of 2.1 children per woman just to keep the population from decreasing. Japan recently became the first country to have more people over age 65 than under age 15. The New York Times called Japan “one of the world’s least fertile and fastest aging societies.” The aged are expected to make up one third of the Japanese population in just 50 years.

But Japan is not alone in this problem. Italy’s fertility rate, for example, has dropped to 1.15 children per woman, making one wonder if there will be any Italians left from which to chose a bishop of Rome should the Church decide to resume that practice. One Italian population expert, studying a recent report of the Population Division of the UN Secretariat, questioned “whether Italy can stand up to a reduction by nearly half of its working age population in (the next) 50 years.”

I am one-quarter Norwegian, so I made a point of introducing myself to the Norwegian delegate, a demographer. Larry and I asked him if he wasn’t concerned about his country’s decline in population, and he defensively told us that Norway had the most pro-family policies in all of Europe. Still their birth rate is well below replacement level, and the delegate shrugged when it was pointed out that Norway’s indigenous population was dying out, and handing the country over to its immigrants.

Our allies in the war against abortion proved to be delegates from the Middle East and some, but not all South American countries as well as the United States itself. It actually seemed easier to talk to Muslims than Roman Catholics on the issue of abortion. My husband and I humbly introduced ourselves to the delegate from Jordan on Tuesday morning. He proved to be a very interesting man. All of the conferences began at least 45 minutes late, but he was always in his seat behind the sign, “Jordan,” promptly when the meeting was officially scheduled to begin.

He was pro-life, but his complaint was that you could not trust the United States to continue to be pro-life because we had all just lived through eight years of a Democratic presidency. President Bill Clinton had done much to export abortion around the world.

The means he used was the UN Population Fund. President Reagan and now President Bush have managed to cut off all U.S. funding to the UN Population Fund because Steve Mosher’s group, the Population Research Institute, did undercover investigative reporting and found the UNPF responsible for human rights violations -- forced abortions in China and forced sterilizations in Peru.

Ironically, however, the delegate from Jordan was also upset because his country was not receiving the funding it needed for contraception from the UN Population Fund because of the U.S. pull-back. Larry and I represented a coalition of pro-life, pro-family NGOs (non-governmental observers). But we were not officially anti-contraceptive. So having gotten to know the Jordanian delegate fairly well, I told him, “This is not official. But personally, I have used Natural Family Planning in my marriage for 21 years, and it works.” And it’s great because it requires no money, no doctor, and it can be taught couple to couple.

I was not prepared for his response. He was astounded. “But I thought NFP didn’t work!” he said. I assured him it was actually more effective than artificial contraception. I didn’t realize that suggestion would create such a revolution! For everything in the UN runs on money and to suggest that someone could get something done without money was incredible.

Larry and I also enjoyed talking to many members of the Gambian delegation, all of whom were pro-life. They have in their culture the practice of spacing their children naturally through periodic abstinence. After the child is born, the wife moves back in with her mother for two years! When the Gambian delegate told us this story, I said, “Why, you don’t have to abstain for two years with Natural Family Planning!” He looked at my husband, and said, “How long?” And my husband said, with satisfaction, “Five days before (ovulation), and two days after!” His eyes widened and he looked very enthused.

In the encyclical the “Gospel of Life,” Pope John Paul II, calls abortion and contraception “fruits” from the same tree. “It is frequently asserted that contraception, if made safe and available to all, is the most effective remedy against abortion. The Catholic Church is then accused of actually promoting abortion, because she obstinately continues to teach the moral unlawfulness of contraception,” the pope wrote, adding, “When looked at carefully, this objection is clearly unfounded.”

“Indeed, the pro-abortion culture is especially strong precisely where the Church's teaching on contraception is rejected. Certainly, from the moral point of view contraception and abortion are specifically different evils: the former contradicts the full truth of the sexual act as the proper expression of conjugal love, while the latter destroys the life of a human being...Still such practices (contraception) are rooted in a hedonistic mentality unwilling to accept responsibility in matters of sexuality, and they imply a self-centered concept of freedom, which regards procreation as an obstacle to personal fulfillment. The life which could result from a sexual encounter thus becomes an enemy to be avoided at all costs, and abortion becomes the only possible decisive response to failed contraception.”

I speak French, but my Spanish is very limited. However, one of the delegates from Bolivia did not speak much English, and he wanted to question me on the Church’s position on contraception and abortion. He – like Larry and I – was Roman Catholic. But he apparently worked in the government promoting contraception.

The conversation was carried out in pantomime, although my husband later suspected the delegate knew more English than he let on. The delegate explained to us that the Bolivian women had many, many children, and they needed information on how to limit their families.

I picked up on the word, “information,” and I explained Natural Family Planning. No money, no doctor, no government and it is taught couple to couple. In the process, I had my husband as a teaching tool, and I showed my friend from Bolivia that I sent my husband to the couch (as in “Sleep on the couch, honey.”) In actual practice, this doesn’t happen, because the couple communicates. But it got the idea across. My husband dutifully lay on the couch to show him what I meant, and then I said, “seven days” in Spanish.

This was a critical moment for my friend. He looked at my husband questioningly. And my husband looked him in the face, and said, “Yes, we practice Natural Family Planning.” The Bolivian was visibly impressed. Then I explained to him that God had called him to teach Natural Family Planning, to give the information to Bolivian couples so they could limit their family size – if they wished.

In the end, he accepted a copy of the “Gospel of Life” in Spanish, and a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We even had to explain to him by pantomime that Our Lady was pregnant with Jesus in that picture, and that’s why she is called the “Patroness of the Unborn.” 

The humiliation we endured to communicate paid off handsomely. For after that anytime my friend met my husband in the hall, he asked for me, and looked very disappointed if I was not there.

Another delegate friend of ours, who was passionately pro-life, had difficulty with Natural Family Planning. He was Muslim. He didn’t believe the men in his country could practice periodic abstinence. He also labeled our interest in this as a religious point of view (i.e. Roman Catholic). I realized by the choking sensation in my throat that I did not practice Natural Family Planning for religious reasons, but for human reasons. I may have gotten into the practice with the encouragement of my church. But I reflected that if men have available contraception and abortion, and won’t use periodic abstinence, a woman is trapped -- always at the disposal of the male.

In fact, a delegate from South Africa addressed this issue when he spoke about his country’s solutions to the AIDS crisis. He said the government there has developed a life skills program to “empower women to manage sexual relations and to be able to assert themselves appropriately, for instance in situations requiring negotiation for the use of the condoms.”

“Negotiate for use of the condoms??” I thought, “What’s the matter with telling your partner with AIDS to sleep on the couch?” Everyone agreed that condoms are absolutely ineffective against AIDS transmission. Needless to say, the delegate had to admit that in 1990, less than 1 percent of pregnant women in South Africa were HIV positive. But by 2004, 28 percent were HIV positive. And this happened while condom use increased 34 percent in that country during the two decades ending in 2002. This basically supported my husband’s argument at the UN that abortion and contraception in the United States have not helped empower women. In fact, since Roe vs. Wade made abortion legal in 1973, sexually transmitted diseases have increased, the rate of illegitimacy has increased, and so has abuse against women and children.

There has been one stunning success against the AIDS epidemic in Africa: Uganda. The country promoted abstinence and monogamy as a means of stopping AIDS. Bill boards in Uganda remind the population, “Graze in your own field, not in your neighbor’s.” The abstinence campaign was so effective; the infection has almost disappeared from their landscape.

South Africa, on the other hand, is watching its population growth come to a dead stop, according to its representative. They’ve been hit with a double whammy: AIDS and Contraception. The latter has reduced family size to 2.7 children per woman, while AIDS has shortened the life expectancy of South Africans to age 50.

So in the Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II wrote, “The close connection which exists, in mentality, between the practice of contraception and that of abortion is becoming increasingly obvious. It is being demonstrated in an alarming way by the development of chemical products, intrauterine devices and vaccines which, distributed with the same ease as contraceptives, really act as abortifacients in the very early stages of the development of the life of the new human being.”

And in some countries these very things have a two-fold effect on the population. While the parents are using abortion and contraception to kill their offspring, they also are spreading the AIDS virus and killing off themselves.

However, abstinence was not on the agenda at the UN. In fact, when the week started, we lobbyists all wondered what the connection was between abortion and AIDS. We found out to our horror that the pro-abortion lobby wanted the right to continue to have sex even after they contracted AIDS without adverse consequences. And they wanted the right to abort the product of that encounter, the baby.

Our Muslim friend was a very feisty fighter behind closed doors where most of the negotiating on the final document went on. While he didn’t like the idea of Natural Family Planning, he was also passionately against abortion, contraception and homosexual marriage. It was he who told us that the pro-abortion countries tried to get pregnancy declared a cause of AIDS. He said the pro-life countries nipped that in the bud because in another year they would have demanded abortion become a universal right for humanity as a means of combating AIDS.

But our fellow lobbyists from the Population Research Institute told us that AIDS is not transmitted in pregnancy. It is transmitted at birth and by nursing, and anti-viral drugs can be administered to the pregnant woman at birth to prevent the transmission, while canned baby formula can be given to the family. No baby need ever be born with AIDS nor contract AIDS from his mother if all the resources dedicated to worthless condoms and contraception were given over to these other two options.

Lawrence and I talked all week non-stop from early in the morning to late at night with anyone who would listen to us. When we were tired we went to the UN cafeteria, and while sitting down found more people to talk to. At first, I would pray and let God guide us where to sit. We met important delegations this way. But as my feet grew more tired, I learned to take advantage of the New York culture, which is to only approach people you know. I realized I could sit in the cafeteria with two empty seats, and as people came looking for a seat, I would look them in the eyes, smile and beckon them to come sit with us. It worked! One person from South America, who got to know us this way, explained that he came over because no one talks to strangers in New York, so by implication he thought he knew us already.

But another stranger who did not come over to meet us, turned around repeatedly as he left the cafeteria looking at me trying to figure out how I thought I knew him. I still don’t.
On Thursday, they told us the lobbying was over, and now our only option was prayer. Plus we were to stay all night at the UN Thursday as a witness while the delegates struggled with one another behind closed doors. Larry and I went back to our hotel for showers and then returned to the UN about 9 p.m.

The pro-abortion lobby -- about 12 to 13 young women who self identify as lesbian -- sat in one corner of the room with a table of goodies that attracted the delegates whenever they came out of the room. We – about 10 men and women from Canada, the United States and Australia -- sat in the other corner of the room, some of us holding our Rosaries.

Surprisingly, the Rosary attracted another kind of person, a U. S. delegate, Roman Catholic and a member of the Bush team, who was fighting against the abortion language in the document. He asked Larry and me for our prayers for his sick child and his wife, who was without him that night.
About 11 p.m. I suggested to our group that we pray to Pope John Paul II to help us. His funeral was scheduled to begin in Rome at 3 a.m. New York time. 

We had no idea whether we were winning or losing except that one of our lobbyists had overhead a pro-abortion delegate on her cell phone. She was telling someone that her side was getting discouraged, and they were about to give up, but she wanted to keep fighting. We prayed for their continued discouragement.

Our veteran pro-life lobbyists told stories about how they stayed up until 7 a.m. in a similar situation at another conference. I have fibromyalgia and diabetes, and I thought to myself, I cannot make it to 7 a.m. So I remembered what St. Faustina, the Catholic Church’s apostle of Divine Mercy, had written in her diary. During a drought in Poland she had felt sorry for the drooping plants. She began to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy non-stop for rain. After three hours of such prayer, the heavens broke lose with a torrential downpour. Faustina Kowalska was the first saint Pope John Paul II canonized in the new millennium, and he reportedly loved her very much.

So it must have tickled him when I prayed for his intercession, and began to say the Chaplet from St. Faustina’s Diary non-stop starting at 11:30 p.m. Three hours later -- at 2:30 a.m. about an hour before the pope’s funeral would begin -- the delegates all walked out of the room, and went home. We still didn’t know what had happened.

The conference was to resume the next day at 10 a.m., but the start was stalled until 6 p.m. as last minute negotiations continued almost to the end. At that point, they handed out the final negotiated document in English. The European Union, which had helped negotiate it, refused to ratify or approve the document until it was translated into French some time the following week. Once, the language was explained to me by our pro-life Muslim friend, I could easily see why.

The Beijing and Cairo conferences did not create an international right to abortion, but the strongest anti-abortion language was contained in the reservations filed by individual countries and attached to the main document. Therefore to refer to these conferences without the reservations was to take a pro-abortion stance. The Population Commission’s final negotiated document referred to the Cairo conference “in its entirety” (including the anti-abortion reservations of individual countries). That was a whopping success for the pro-life cause.

But the document also sidestepped any implied right to abortion as a means of stopping AIDS. And the wording, “reproductive health services,” often interpreted to include abortion, was completely absent. In addition, the document avoided creating any implied right to homosexual marriage by referring to the people who get AIDS as “individuals with vulnerabilities.” If they had said, prostitutes, drug users and homosexuals, as the EU had done in its speech, it would have created a new group within the human family with the potential right to well . . . marriage.

The final negotiated document was approved by the UN Commission on Population and Development the following week. It was a complete victory for the pro-life, pro-family cause.

But we have another Catholic saint to thank besides Faustina and John Paul the Great. We also handed out pictures of St. Gianna Beretta Molla. She must have been one of the last saints Pope John Paul II canonized as she was declared a saint May 16, 2004. And she only died in 1962. She was an Italian physician, who pregnant with her fourth child, refused treatment that might save her life so that her unborn daughter could live instead. Gianna died nine days after the birth. Greater love hath no man than he give his life for a friend.

Lawrence met members of the Italian mission at the UN. After hearing Larry speak about the problems caused by abortion and contraception, they asked, “How can we change our culture?” 
Later in the cafeteria I gave one of them a picture of Gianna Molla with her children, and he asked me, “Oh, is she an American saint?”

“No,” I said, “She is Italian.”