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Press Releases 2013

Media Contact:
Claire S. Gould
+1 202 986 6093

For Immediate Release
20 September 2013

New Video Sheds Light on Religious Extremism at the UN

Is Pope Francis going to conduct business as usual at the United Nations?

All eyes are on the UN as the General Assembly begins its annual meeting. We have yet to see whether Pope Francis' recent conciliatory words will be put into action at the UN, or if the Holy See will continue to use its elevated status to obstruct women's rights. As we wait, a new video from Catholics for Choice raises concerns about the Vatican's influence at the United Nations.

The Holy See at the United Nations: Church or State? from Catholics for Choice on Vimeo.


Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, noted that the Holy See’s obstructionism is ongoing, even under the new pope. “Earlier this year, as the conclave to elect Pope Francis took place, the Vatican collaborated with Iran and Russia in stymieing progress on a simple statement condemning violence against women. Since his election, we have seen more of the same. The Holy See has expressed its opposition to sustainable development and continues to rail against reproductive health services at every opportunity. It’s high time that the Vatican is required to act as other religions do at the UN. Religious voices are important, but should not be granted extra deference simply because they are religious.”

This three-minute video explains what the Holy See—the government of the Catholic church and the representative of a mere 600 Vatican residents—does with its position as the only religion with the privileges of a state at the United Nations. It calls on a global audience to demand action from their governments to ensure that the Holy See is treated like other religious entities.

The Holy See likes to claim the moral high ground on human rights, but since it arrived at the UN—without the benefit of a popular vote—in 1964, the Holy See has used its unique power to block consensus on human rights and sexual and reproductive health issues. It has also failed to ratify several key treaties on human rights. Instead, the Holy See uses its direct access to the General Assembly and international conferences to attempt to impose an ultraconservative agenda on the global population, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

Even predominantly Catholic countries have disagreed with the Holy See’s extremist positions on contraception, sex education and abortion. Why is the Holy See allowed to use religious doctrine as an excuse for harmful policies at the United Nations?

“The Holy See … should be judged by the actual results of its policies,” concludes The “See Change” Campaign’s video.

Watch the light-hearted video with a hard-hitting message calling for a change in the Holy See’s status at the UN. Learn more about the issue in our report that tells the story of how the Catholic church came to be the only religion with the privileges of a state at the United Nations.

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Catholics for Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to women's well-being and respect and affirm the capacity of women and men to make moral decisions about their lives.