“VATICAN INSIDER” THIS WEEK: BIRMINGHAM MAYOR WILLIAM BELL
Stay tuned after the news segment on “Vatican Insider” to listen to my interview with Birmingham, Alabama Mayor William Bell who was in Rome for several days attending a Vatican-sponsored workship for mayors from around the world entitled “Modern Slavery and Climate Change.” The conference, at which Mayor Bell spoke, was organized by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, and by the chancellor of the academies, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo.
We have a fascinating conversation and you’ll hear Mayor Bell, a very articulate speaker, tell of his own experience of working against human trafficking, of his participation in the workshop and what he learned from other mayors from around the world. Just one technical note. I welcomed Mayor Bell to Vatican Insider and he responded in a most friendly manner and we had a brief conversation but my recorder had stopped so his initial words were lost – but I did not realize that until I got home and was editing the piece. Apologies for losing part of a delightful conversatione!
As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=
UPDATE ON IRAQ AND ISIS BY CHALDEAN PATRIARCH SAKO
(Vatican Radio) The Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, Louis Sako, says he is personally “very worried” about his nation’s future and warns that the so-called Islamic State, ISIS, “is growing” in strength and influence each day and nowadays the militant group is “like a real state.”
We first met when he was the Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk.
In a recent gesture of solidarity, the Iraqi Patriarch donated food and medical supplies to displaced Muslims living in a refugee camp near the city of Ramadi. Accompanied by other members of the Church and representatives of Caritas Iraq, Patriarch Sako personally brought the relief supplies to 250 Muslim families living in the refugee camp. His action came during the recent Muslim feast of Eid al Fitr marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Patriarch Sako spoke to Susy Hodges about his visit to the Muslim refugees and his views about Iraq’s future.
Serving lunch at his residence in Kirkuk
The displaced Iraqi Muslim families are currently being housed in tents in the desert near the city of Ramadi in very “critical conditions” said Patriarch Sako. He described their visit by car to the refugees to bring them food and other relief supplies as “a sign of solidarity” to show them that as a Church they are reaching out to all Iraqis in need, regardless of their religion. He told the refugees, “we are close to you, we understand your suffering.” Patriarch Sako described the gratitude of the refugees who begged them “not to forget them.” He said their situation was “a tragedy” with their plight going largely unnoticed because of the nation’s conflicts.
At the residence
Asked for his views on Iraq’s future, Patriarch Sako said he was personally “very worried” given the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and elsewhere although he said there are “some signs of hope.” He said there was an urgent need for the Muslim nations in the region to resolve the sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. The Patriarch also called for serious action to be taken against ISIS (the so-called Islamic State) and other fundamentalist groups. He said ISIS “is growing” with each day that passes and that nowadays the militant group is “like a real state.” http://www.news.va/en/news/iraqi-patriarch-says-isis-is-growing-each-day
C-FAM AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Do you know C-Fam?
The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, known as C-Fam, is a non-partisan, non-profit research institute that monitors and affects the social policy debate at the United Nations. I get the Friday Fax updates from Austin Ruse at the U.N. and read his reports with great interest as he always is current with the behind.the-scenes machinations at this international body – deliberations, meetings (sometimes secret) and bargains that often do not see the light of day. Some are downright frightening. (You can subscribe to Friday Fax at https://c-fam.org/)
Today’s Friday Fax, for example, carries an article by Stefano Gennarini entitled “Will Obama Re-define the Family for the World?” Here it is, in all its scary implications:
NEW YORK, July 24 (C-Fam) The Obama administration’s placement of LGBT rights at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy has caused backlash against LGBT rights in many parts of the world. But after repeated failures to re-define the family to include homosexuality, something may be about to change at UN headquarters.
Obama’s multi-year campaign to discard the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ longstanding description of the family as the “natural and fundamental group unit of society” may pay off as the United Nations celebrates the 70th anniversary of its founding in September this year, and a new UN agreement on development is adopted by world leaders.
UN delegates are deep into the final two weeks of negotiations for a massive new UN development scheme to tackle poverty and promote economic and social development that is environmentally friendly. The subjects up for negotiation are legion, but in the back of everyone’s mind is also the fate of the family.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other binding and non-binding UN agreements recognize the family as resulting from the union of a man and a woman who freely marry. International law and policy make provision for children born in irregular situations or out of wedlock not to be discriminated against, and special protections for single mothers, but do not recognize same-sex relations as capable of constituting a family.
In recent years UN member states have rejected the phrase “various forms of family” in UN agreements, because North American and European countries see it as recognizing same-sex “families,” and it does not appear that such language could make it in a UN agreement anytime soon.
Delegates from around the world have told C-Fam, publisher of the Friday Fax, that U.S. diplomats at the highest levels have been pressuring capitals and missions to ask countries to soften their posture on family language in UN resolutions. Delegations that are unable to support LGBT rights are usually asked to abstain and not show up for voting on resolutions. In this case they have been asked to refrain from proposing language from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Even staunch opponents of LGBT rights appear ready to jettison settled language declaring the family as the “natural and fundamental group unit of society.” An exception is the strong statements from African countries.
A delegate from Cameroon told the General Assembly his delegation wanted to see “family” and “culture” recognized in the final agreement.
Ambassador Usman Sarki of Nigeria was also adamant about seeing the natural family reflected in the final outcome and not “various forms of the family.”
Sarki’s said, “There is no possible rational justification for member states to sit in conclave on issues that will not be implementable at the national level.” In a reference to the pressure for LGBT rights, he said, “Abortion for instance, or reconfiguration of the family, or endorsing behavior that goes against the grain of traditionally accepted practices.”
Recognition of same-sex “families” may be a long way off, but if the Obama administration has its way and gets UN member states to forsake the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it may pave the way for future recognition of homosexual relationships as family in international law and policy.