US-based Catholic group, feminists oppose Vatican position at UN
Agence France-Presse, March 15, 2000

UNITED NATIONS, March 14 (AFP) - A US-based Catholic organization opposed to the Vatican's anti-abortion stance and feminist groups on Tuesday demanded a review of the Holy See's status as a non-member state at the United Nations.

"While the Roman Catholic Church has made many positive contributions to peace and justice, this should not be used to justify granting the status of a state to a religious institution," said John O'Brien of Catholics for a Free Choice at a news conference. "We call upon the Secretary General to open an official review of the Holy See status at the United Nations," O'Brien said.

Catholics for a Free Choice has criticized the government of the Roman Catholic church for using its UN status to oppose the advancement of women, the use of contraceptives as a means to prevent AIDS, and emergency contraceptives for women who have been raped.

The organization launched its "See Change" campaign in March 1999, and has rallied 450 organizations worldwide behind its drive to change the status of the Roman Catholic church at the United Nations. The Vatican, like Switzerland, is considered a non-member state of the United Nations, and has permanent observer status allowing it to participate, though not to vote, in General Assembly debates.

The Vatican pays dues equivalent to 0.001 percent of the UN budget, as do the poorest member states.

"At the United Nations, the Roman Catholic church is uniquely positioned to influence global deliberations on a range of policy issues," including the status of women, said Anika Rahman of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, which has backed the drive together with several feminist organizations.