Vatican Denounces Violence Suffered by Women in Latin America

ZENIT

The Vatican has expressed profound concern over the way international forums address the issue of human sexuality, “particularly in reference to adolescents, because of the focus on, and banalization of, the topic, which disregards the immanent values of the person’s dignity; as well as those academic programs of sexual education that do not address individual differences nor the real needs of children and youth, encouraging them to become sexually active at an ever earlier age, with results that are later regretted,” the Vatican document states.

During the 8th Regional Conference on Woman in Latin America, held in Lima, Peru, from February 8-10, the Vatican severely denounced the violence suffered by women in that part of the world.

The Regional Conference is a subsidiary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and was convoked to evaluate the implementation of the recommendations of the 4th World Conference on Woman held in Beijing in 1995. The meeting also offered an opportunity to prepare for the U.N. General Assembly session (Biejing+5) to be held in New York in June, 2000, which will address the topic: “Woman in the Year 2000: Equality between the Genders, Development and Peace for the 21st Century.”

Because of the methodology agreed to by ECLAC, the Vatican delegation–accredited as an Observer–was unable to give its expected oral presentation. As a result, Archbishop Rino Passigato, Apostolic Nuncio in Peru, decided to publish his text, which would otherwise have been ignored.

The meeting in Lima was attended by delegations of 45 governments, numerous U.N. agencies, inter-governmental organizations and NGOs. Archbishop Passigato states, in the address he was unable to deliver, that in keeping with its nature and popular mission, “the Vatican reaffirms the positions and reservations expressed constantly and unequivocally in previous international forums–especially the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, September 5-13, 1994) and the World Conference on Woman (Beijing, September 4-15, 1995). While rejoicing in the progress made in favor of woman, it denounces the grave attacks and unacceptable violations of the dignity of woman, the different forms of violence and abuse that are committed in the home and workplace, on the streets, in schools and in the media: prostitution, rape, pornography and other forms of abuse, where women and girls are ignobly despoiled of their personal dignity and ‘brutalized.’”

Forced Sterilization and Abortion Specifically, the Vatican delegation denounced “the grave abuses perpetrated against the dignity and integrity of woman in those hospitals and health centers, both public and private, which practice unnatural and openly offensive forms of obligatory birth control, including forced sterilization and abortion, thus denying the right to free and informed choice, and gravely offending not only the women’s conscience–the great majority of whom are formed in Christian faith and morality–but also the sensitivity of persons who are profoundly respectful of the values received and uninterruptedly practiced, educated to live in profound and total harmony with natural law.”

“Reproductive Health” In the four conclusions of the Conference, published in the official web page ( http://www.cepal.org/English/research/women/conf8/conf8.htm ) no reference is made to the tragic situation of the educational programs for women and girls in Latin America. Instead, it invites nations to guarantee the “sexual and reproductive rights” of women, without spelling out what this means.

The Vatican has expressed profound concern over the way international forums address the issue of human sexuality, “particularly in reference to adolescents, because of the focus on, and banalization of, the topic, which disregards the immanent values of the person’s dignity; as well as those academic programs of sexual education that do not address individual differences nor the real needs of children and youth, encouraging them to become sexually active at an ever earlier age, with results that are later regretted,” the Vatican document states.

This is a question of education, and parents are first in terms of responsibility, a right that cannot be substituted “without running the risk of creating a breach between parents and children that is contrary to the traditional sense of the family in the countries of the region and the real feelings of the people,” continues the document.

The last conclusion of the meeting–“Promote a recognition of the social and economic contribution of women’s unpaid work”–coincides with proposals made years ago by John Paul II himself. ZE00022303

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

ZENIT is an International News Agency based in Rome whose mission is to provide objective and professional coverage of events, documents and issues emanating from or concerning the Catholic Church for a worldwide audience, especially the media.

Copyright © 2000 ZENIT


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