Brief Biographies of Some of the Catholics Speaking at the World Congress of Families, Amsterdam, August 10-12

10 August 2009

L. Brent Bozell III, President and Founder of the Media Research Center

Mr. Bozell is a self-appointed conservative watchdog of anything he considers to be problematic in society. Before founding the Conservative News Service and the Media Research Center, which examines the media for alleged liberal bias, he ran the National Conservative Foundation project at the National Conservative Political Action Committee. In October 2006, Mr. Bozell founded the Culture and Media Institute (CMI), whose mission is to “thwart the efforts of the liberal media to subvert America’s culture, character, traditional moral values, and religious liberty.” He is also founder of the Parents Television Council, which seeks to highlight all that is wrong with television. He has taken very public and outspoken positions against President Barack Obama and other Democrats. His latest book, Whitewash: What the Media Won’t Tell You about Hillary Clinton, but Conservatives Will, was released in November of 2007. His previous book,Weapons of Mass Distortion: The Coming Meltdown of the Liberal Media, was released in July of 2004, but its subtitled prediction failed to materialize. He recently joined other conservative Catholics in urging Obama to remove gay rights activist Harry Knox from the White House Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, charging that Knox made anti-Catholic remarks. Mr. Bozell is regularly given a platform to express his views in conservative newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, the New York Post and National Review. He is also a regular on conservative news programs including Fox & Friends, Hannity & Colmes and The O’Reilly Factor, as well as Rush Limbaugh’s radio show.

Rene Bullecer, Director of Human Life International, Philippines

Dr. Rene Bullecer has been a cheerleader for the Catholic hierarchy in its campaigns against several reforms in Congress, including those which support family planning, divorce and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. Dr. Bullecer said that if the bills are approved, they would “lead to premarital sex and widespread abortion among women, particularly those with unwanted pregnancies.” Dr. Bullecer has threatened to conduct a mass boycott against paying taxes in an attempt to protest the passage of the Reproductive Health Care Bill, claiming that it is “anti-life, anti-health, anti-family and anti-Christ.” Dr. Bullecer also claimed that “Catholics are open to sex education as long as it is based on the practice of the Church centered on chastity.”

Archbishop Willem Jacobus “Wim” Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht, Netherlands

Archbishop Wim Eijk has a medical background, and has completed academic dissertations on euthanasia and “genetic manipulation.” He is known as a conservative, with extreme views against abortion and homosexuality. He has the ear of the pope, as Benedict appointed him to the the Congregation for the Clergy in addition to his duties as Archbishop of Utrecht. He has described homosexuality as “a neurotic development disorder” and said that all homosexuals, no matter what religion they are, “need pastoral care.”

Babette Francis, Founder, Endeavour Forum, Australia

The Endeavour Forum describes itself as a “pro-family, pro-life NGO” which was set up to “counter feminism, defend the unborn and the traditional family.” Ms. Francis has claimed that “a feminist is an evolutionary anachronism, a Darwinian blind alley.” In October 1995 she was invited by the Pontifical Council for the Family to chair the English language group’s discussions at the Third World Congress of Pro-Life Movements held in Rome. She has attended numerous UN Conferences on Women, Population, Habitat and Food. She is opposed to working mothers, insisting that while “more exercise and a healthy diet is important” in combating obesity, “a significant factor has been overlooked: the role of mothers.”

Marie Claire Hernandez, President, Family and Society, Mexico

Ms. Hernandez is a founding member of the conservative Catholic organization Family & Society, and a member of the board of Red Familia (Family Network) in Mexico. She is on the planning committee for the World Congress of Families. Ms. Hernandez has been a conference speaker on education and sexuality for the past 15 years and has recently started a campaign against online pornography.

Ewa Kowaleska, Director, Human Life International Europe

In addition to her position as director of HLI Europe, Ms. Kowaleska is president of the Forum of Polish Women and a board member of the Polish Association of Natural Family Planning Teachers. She has participated in the UN meetings in Copenhagen, Beijing, Istanbul and Rome. She also led an online campaign to send a message of support to the pope after his statements against condoms during his recent visit to Africa.

Gwen Landolt, National Vice President, REAL Women of Canada

Gwen Landolt is a lawyer, long-time prolife activist and a co-founder of Toronto Right to Life, the Coalition for Life and REAL Women of Canada. She opposes all abortion, even for victims of incest and rape. She has claimed that the winners of the prestigious Order of Canada are “mostly left-wing feminists, homosexuals and environmentalists.” REAL (Realistic, Equal, Active, for Life) Women works “to defend the dignity of women, as well as the sanctity of life, marriage and family.” She believes that the most important of her work is being a wife and mother.

Katarzyna Mazela, Vice President, Forum of Polish Women

Before her appointment to her current position, Ms. Mazela was director of the Department of Family Affairs in the Polish prime minister’s office and the lead organizer in Poland for the World Congress of Families IV. She attended several UN meetings as a member of the Polish government delegation and spoke on behalf of the Government, stressing the “crucial role of the family…[and] marriage as a union of a woman and man; parental rights to decide about the upbringing of their children, and also the protection of life from conception to natural death.”  At the June 2000 Beijing+5 meeting in New York, she was part of the Polish delegation that caused controversy because it opposed the use of terms such as reproductive rights.

Janet Morana, Executive Director, Priests for Life

Ms. Morana is the executive director of the ultraconservative Priests for Life (Read more about Priests for Life) and a founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, a campaign that encourages women who regret their abortion and men who opposed the decision by a partner or former partner to have an abortion to publicly support the campaign to outlaw abortions. She has been involved in the antiabortion campaigns since the late 1980s. Morana has recounted being caused to “sob uncontrollably” by a video that convinced her that her past use of ordinary birth control pills had “destroyed an unknown number of children.” 

Steve Mosher, President, Population Research Institute

The Population Research Institute (PRI), a militant anti-family-planning group based in Front Royal, Virginia, is funded by anticontraception activist Father Paul Marx. Headed by Steven Mosher, who was expelled from a Stanford University doctoral program in 1983 for violation of research ethics in China, PRI says on its Web site that it is “dedicated to stopping human rights abuses committed in the name of family planning, and through research and education to dispelling the myth of overpopulation.” His group played a significant role in misleading the US government about coercive abortion in China, leading to the defunding of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities. Read more about the United Nations Population Fund in China.

Dr. Margaret Ogola, Kenyan Catholic Health Commission

Dr. Ogola is a pediatrician based in Nairobi and the medical director of Cottolengo Hospice, a hospice for HIV and AIDS orphans. She is also Vice President of Family Life Counselling (Kenya). Previously, she was the National Executive Secretary of the Commission for Health & Family Life of the Kenya Episcopal Conference (1998-2002). In 1999, Dr. Ogola was the recipient of the Familias Award for Humanitarian Service at the World Congress of Families in Geneva, Switzerland. When she accepted the award, she called for a return to the time when the power to create life was treated as “a sacred obligation.” She claimed that people believe that they can “get away with infidelity and premarital sex” because of “value free education based entirely on how pregnancy and disease could be avoided,” on “worldwide dissemination of a culture of pleasure as the ultimate desirable good,” and on an “entirely individualistic philosophy of me and I.”

Austin Ruse, President, Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute

Austin Ruse is the president of the once effective and innovative but now almost-defunct Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. He has been outspoken about his willingness to disrupt the workings of the United Nations and boasted of his “veneer of support” for the UN and his willingness to break “every single rule of UN lobbying.” Ruse has also shown that he embraces extreme operating principles and lack of cultural sensitivity in pursuit of his goals at the UN: “When we finally convinced the Muslims that ‘forced pregnancy’ meant abortion and they rose up and they squashed it. You know, our whole game is to make the Muslims as mad as possible at the radical feminists. If that happens, we win. Nothing like a Muslim in full-throated outrage at a radical feminist from the United States.” Read more about the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.

Bill Saunders, Family Research Council

William L. Saunders, Jr. is senior counsel for Americans United for Life (AUL) and senior fellow in bioethics and human rights counsel at the Family Research Council. In fact, he is involved in some way with dozens of antichoice groups. He is chairman for Religious Liberty for the conservative legal organization the Federalist Society. In addition, he is on the boards of the International Right to Life Federation, the International Association of Catholic Bioethicists, the Christian Institute on Disability and the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity. He served on the organizing committee for the conferences of the World Congress of Families in Mexico City (2004), Warsaw (2007) and Amsterdam (2009), and is a member of that organization’s Management Committee. Mr. Saunders is regularly given a platform in the media to express his ultraconservative views on bioethics, human rights, international law, the family and Christian social responsibility in a series of conservative journals includingFirst ThingsHuman EventsHuman Life ReviewThe Legal TimesCommunioand Ethics & Medics. He is also a regular columnist for the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly.

Fr. Jaroslaw Szymczak, Institute for Studies of the Family, Warsaw

Fr. Szymczak studied theology, philosophy and family studies and has a PhD in theology on marriage and family from the Theology Faculty at the Academy of Catholic Theology. He is a board member for family issues in the conservative Catholic association Civitas Cristiana.

Francisco Tatad, Former Senator, Philippines

Francisco Sarmiento Tatad is a member of the ultraconservative Catholic group Opus Dei, former senator and former Minister of Public Information under Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines. He is a member of the International Board of the International Right to Life Federation and the World Youth Alliance (Read more about the World Youth Alliance). He spoke at two previous World Congress of Families meetings in Prague and Geneva. He has a longstanding record of opposing family planning, abortion and LGBT rights as well as supporting a traditional view of the family. At one stage, he proposed a law that would require parliamentarians to resign if they were found to have a mistress.   His wife, Fenny Tatad, is the executive director of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ Bishops-Legislators Caucus.

Msgr. Carlos Simón Vázquez, Deputy Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family

At the opening of the Theological-Pastoral Congress of Mexico, Msgr. Vázquez was asked to clarify a statement by Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family on homosexuality. In doing so, he said, inter alia: “Homosexuality is not a necessary component of society, as is the family. Society is organized around the relationship of the couple that is formed by a man and a woman. They find each other in conjugal life and in family life. … The relationship between two persons of the same sex is not the same as the relationship of a couple that is based on the sexual difference. … Legislators make an anthropological error when they want to socially organize homosexuality. They run the risk of provoking an intellectual confusion, as well as confusion of identity and relationships. It should not be forgotten that confusion frequently favors insecurity, unstable relationships and violence, when legislators don’t respect the fundamental sense of human relationships. … Affirming that homosexuality is a private fact, the president of the Pontifical Council of the Family is not justifying it. The cardinal simply underlined that homosexuality does not contribute favorably to the organization of individuals and of society. The exercise of homosexuality does not reflect the truth of friendship. Friendship is inherent to the human condition in that it offers relationships of proximity, help and cooperation, in a courteous and amiable climate. Friendship should be lived chastely.”

Christine Vollmer, President, Latin American Alliance for the Family

In addition to her work with the Latin American Alliance for the Family, which was “established to help children learn to cherish themselves and others,” Ms. Vollmer is a founding member of the Pontifical Academy for Life and a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family. She is opposed to women working, claiming that “it is also a proven fact that children brought up by their mothers have a better intelligence level and health than those in day care.” She also claimed that “it is worth any sacrifice for mothers to stay home until their children are in school… This is an urgent need in order to preserve the family in the future.”

Anna Záborská, Member of the European Parliament

A senior member of Slovakia’s Christian Democrats (KDH), Dr. Zaborska has publicly identified herself as a conservative. She is firmly opposed to both abortion and LGBT rights. She is a prominent member of the Forum of Life, an association of Slovak antichoice NGOs, organizations and individuals. Dr. Zaborska has made several antigay comments, including “AIDS is God’s vengeance for homosexuality” and “I don’t want to discriminate against anyone, but with these people [homosexuals] there is the potential chance that their outlook on life in basic family matters, on male and female relations, could influence children.” Her views on what a family should look like are no more progressive: “We want to protect the traditional family based on the marriage of one man and one woman. We voted on this basis in the National Parliament but we want to proceed in the same way together with our partners in Europe, in the European Parliament.” Read more about Anna Záborská.

Catholics for Choice