Despite media reports it’s ‘business as usual’ according to the Vatican
September 28, 1999

Despite media reports to the contrary, the Vatican has reaffirmed its opposition to "UN family-planning programs that emphasize abortion and contraception." In a strongly worded statement, the Holy See’s press spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls directly contradicted comments reported by the London Daily Telegraph, among other newspapers. The media reports claimed that the Vatican had changed its long-standing opposition to international family planning programs and specifically it had "given up attempts to stop the United Nations providing family planning for women in the poorest countries."

The original media reports, however, are contradicted by recent Vatican activity, especially the ongoing efforts by Vatican officials to oppose all family planning programs, most notably at a recent United Nations meeting in New York to assess progress since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. Vatican representatives pulled together a coalition of conservative Catholic and Muslim nations to oppose vehemently the distribution of contraception and the availability of abortion. While the Holy See did join the consensus on the final statement, it did express a long list of reservations.

In his statement, Navarro-Valls insisted that "the Holy See has never altered its well-known opposition to abortion or to family planning techniques and policies as proposed by the United Nations Population Fund." Navarro-Valls also restated Vatican positions on abortion, family planning and sexuality. He argued that some UN programs present "an individualistic and permissive approach to sexual behavior which corrodes an appropriate comprehension of human dignity and the moral responsibility of each person." Navarro-Valls claimed that these programs do not give "due consideration to the dimension of reciprocity that is constituted by the expression of mutual love and decision-making within a stable, conjugal relationship."