The following address was given by John Smeaton, the Chief Executive of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and co-founder of Voice of the Family, at the annual pilgrimage of the National Association of Catholic Families in Walsingham on 28 May 2016.
In this hard-hitting address John Smeaton outlines the severe and growing threat to the exercise of parental rights and duties from the United Nations and powerful western governments, particularly those of the United States and the United Kingdom. He also draws parents’ attention to the extent to which Vatican authorities are now actively collaborating with those very same forces.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches in number 2473: “Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude. Quoting St Ignatius of Antioch, the student of the Apostle John who met his death by being fed to wild beasts, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: ‘Let me become the food of the beasts, through whom it will be given me to reach God.'”271
In my judgment, drawing chiefly on my personal experience as a parent, parents are being called today by God to give supreme witness to the truth of the faith that parents are the primary educators of their children. Like St Ignatius, we must be prepared to become the food of the beasts – not beasts like those who devoured St Ignatius in the Colosseum in the year 108 AD, but the beasts of the 21st century, who seek to destroy the innocence of our children, wherever we find them, in the secular world or in ecclesiastical structures. We parents must be prepared to feed those beasts who seek to destroy the innocence of our children with our uncompromising witness to the truth taught by the Church consistently: that parents are the first and foremost educators of their children. Parents have the right and duty, given by God, to educate their children in such a way as to best ensure their healthy physical, psychological, intellectual and spiritual development.
Pope Leo XIII taught in his encyclical Rerum Novarum
“…inasmuch as the domestic household is antecedent, as well in idea as in fact, to the gathering of men into a community, the family must necessarily have rights and duties which are prior to those of the community, and founded more immediately in nature… The contention, then, that the civil government should at its option intrude into and exercise intimate control over the family and the household is a great and pernicious error…
“Paternal authority can be neither abolished nor absorbed by the State; for it has the same source as human life itself.”
Pope Pius XI teaches in his encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge, on the church and the German Reich, issued on 14th March 1937:
“Parents… have a primary right to the education of the children God has given them in the spirit of their Faith, and according to its prescriptions. Laws and measures which in school questions fail to respect this freedom of the parents go against natural law and are immoral.”
In its declaration on Christian education, Gravissimus Educationis, the Second Vatican Council teaches:
“Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators. This role in education is so important that only with difficulty can it be supplied where it is lacking.”
Pope John Paul II teaches the faithful in his encyclical Familiaris Consortio,
“The task of giving education is rooted in the primary vocation of married couples to participate in God’s creative activity: by begetting in love and for love a new person who has within himself or herself the vocation to growth and development, parents by that very fact take on the task of helping that person effectively to live a fully human life…
“The right and duty of parents to give education is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with regard to the educational role of others, on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parents and children; and it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others…
“Sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried out under their attentive guidance, whether at home or in educational centres chosen and controlled by them. In this regard, the Church reaffirms the law of subsidiarity, which the school is bound to observe when it cooperates in sex education, by entering into the same spirit that animates the parents”.
And, finally, in The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, issued by the Pontifical Council for the Family on 8th December, 1995, His Eminence Cardinal Lopez Trujillo teaches:
“…based on the teaching of the Church and with her support, parents must reclaim their own task. By associating together, wherever this is necessary or useful, they should put into action an educational project marked by the true values of the person and Christian love and taking a clear position that surpasses ethical utilitarianism. For education to correspond to the objective needs of true love, parents should provide this education within their own autonomous responsibility…
“Each child is a unique and unrepeatable person and must receive individualized formation. Since parents know, understand and love each of their children in their uniqueness, they are in the best position to decide what the appropriate time is for providing a variety of information, according to their children’s physical and spiritual growth. No one can take this capacity for discernment away from conscientious parents…
“The Pontifical Council for the Family therefore urges parents to have confidence in their rights and duties regarding the education of their children, so as to go forward with wisdom and knowledge, knowing that they are sustained by God’s gift.”
It is important to note that Catholic doctrine, as Cardinal Lopez Trujillo describes it, regarding parents as the primary educators, is an objective moral truth which is also upheld by the UN Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10th December 1948.
The distinguished US attorney and bioethicist, William L. Saunders Jnr, explains how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights upholds parents as the primary educators of their children. He says: “… article 26(3) recognizes that parents are the primary educators of their children. The article states: ‘Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children’ [the article states]. Article 26 recognizes the priority of the wishes of parents regarding the education of their own children over any designs of the state”.
William Saunders underlines the historical significance of the Universal Declaration’s insistence on parents as the primary educators of their children by citing Mary Ann Glendon, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and former US ambassador to the Holy See, and former President of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences. In her authoritative book on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights A World Made New Mary Ann Glendon writes:
“In the article on education …[the drafting committee for the Declaration] made an important change, influenced directly by recollections of the National Socialist regime’s efforts to turn Germany’s renowned educational system into a mechanism for indoctrinating the young with the government’s program…. [A]fter Beaufort of the Netherlands recalled the ways in which German schools had been used to undermine the role of parents, a third paragraph was added: ‘Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.’”
“In other words” William Saunders comments: “one of the most important lessons drawn by the framers of the Declaration from the experience of the Second World War was that parental choice in education is a fundamental plank of international peace and security”.
Tragically, nearly 70 years on from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the terrors of the Second World War, it seems that this lesson has not been learned.
Indeed, there is an unequivocal determination on the part of the world’s most powerful politicians and UN officials to destroy parental rights over their children’s education and formation. This destruction of parental rights takes pride of place in the work of the international body set up by the United Nations “for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe” – i.e. the Human Rights Council.
In our work at the Human Rights Council, lobbyists for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children often meet country delegates from developing nations who are preparing reports for United Nations compliance committees. The Committee on the Rights of the Child is the UN’s compliance committee for the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Now there is nothing in the Convention on the Rights of the Child that can reasonably be construed as approving abortion or access to abortion for children under the age of consent without their parents’ knowledge or agreement. However, this does not stop the Compliance Committee from making recommendations promoting access to abortion for children under the age of consent without parents’ knowledge or consent. For example, a child’s “right to health” is protected under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. According to the UN Compliance Committee on the Convention a child’s right to health must include access to sexual and reproductive information, including on family planning, abortions and contraceptives, the dangers of early pregnancy, the prevention of HIV/AIDS and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In addition, States parties should ensure that they have access to appropriate information, regardless of their marital status … and whether their parents or guardians consent. So with no basis in international agreements, the powerful UN Compliance Committee on the rights of the child is constantly pressuring countries to pass legislation which undermines the rights and duties of parents.
The destruction of parental rights also takes pride of place in the political agenda of arguably the world’s two most powerful politicians over the past seven years: “In a speech on October 12th 2009, Wellington Webb, appointed by Barack Obama as special adviser to the US mission to the United Nations, confirmed that the Obama administration would be promoting legalised abortion throughout the world, targeting adolescents in a worldwide abortion drive.
Just over a week ago, on 19th May, Hilary Clinton, who, according to current polls is the person most likely to become the next US president, made the following statement at a pro-abortion Women’s Conference in Copenhagen:
“This is an important moment. As we chart a course to meet the new Sustainable Development Goals, we have to break down the barriers holding back women and girls around the world,” said Clinton. “Gender equality, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, must be a core priority. To get there, we need greater political will and resources, and we need to continue to invest in more and better data to measure progress.”
My fellow parents please take careful note of that statement. Remember first of all that in April 2009, Hillary Clinton told Congressman Chris Smith at a hearing of the US Congress Foreign Affairs Committee “We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women’s health and reproductive health includes access to abortion … ”
Let’s be really clear about this. A core priority for the person most likely to be the world’s most powerful politician, the US president, next year, underlined by her last month, is that girls should have access to abortion and contraception as part of “gender equality”. Hillary Clinton’s “core priority” involves a direct attack on our Catholic faith and on parents as the primary educators of their children, because girls cannot get such access if there are laws in place allowing parents to get in the way.
As I mentioned earlier, Pope Pius XI teaches in his encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge, on the church and the German Reich, issued on 14th March 1937:
“Parents… have a primary right to the education of the children God has given them in the spirit of their Faith, and according to its prescriptions. Laws and measures which in school questions fail to respect this freedom of the parents go against natural law and are immoral.”
It’s a direct attack on our Catholic faith because girls cannot have equal access to abortion and contraception if there are any parents alive anywhere in the world who are exercising their “primary right to the education of the children God has given them in the spirit of their Faith, and according to its prescriptions”.
Moving on to Britain, the most powerful politician here is, of course, David Cameron. Here is what David Cameron, now Prime Minister but then Leader of the Opposition, said during an interview with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight on 23 April 2010:
- Paxman: “You’re in favour of faith schools being able to teach sex education as they like”.
- Cameron:”Not as they like. That’s not right. What we voted for was what the government suggested in the end, which is proper sex education…”
- Paxman: “Should they be free to teach that homosexuality is wrong, abortion is wrong, contraception is wrong?”
- Cameron: “No, and the government discussed this and came up with a good idea, which is to say that we wanted a clearer path of sexual education across all schools, but faith schools were not given any exemption but they were able to reflect some of their own faith in the way that this was taught …”
Moving on again, David Cameron is the head of Her Majesty’s Government in the UK – and Her Majesty’s Government in the UK are one of the world’s major funders of International Planned Parenthood Federation, IPPF. IPPF, with its headquarters in London, hugely funded by the US government, the UK government, and by the overwhelming majority of nations worldwide, are the enemies of the world’s families, and, in particular, of our families which strive to uphold Catholic teaching and the natural law regarding parents in their role as the primary educators of their children.
In 2011, at the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN in New York, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the Population Council and other pro-abortion groups held a meeting to launch worldwide a massive programme of so-called comprehensive sex education entitled: “It’s All One Curriculum”:
This curriculum shows itself to be nakedly polemical rather than educational. It states in its guidance for teachers of our young people:
“People can support or join movements for social change at the global level. For example: …youth-led networks for sexual and reproductive rights and services.” (p.231)
“Reproductive rights and services” is the term defined by IPPF and by the British Government as including the right to abortion and contraception – unrestricted by the values or the faith of the teacher, and unrestricted by parents. Note carefully that international powers are not only opposing parents as the primary educators, they are seeking to manipulate young people so that young people see themselves as the educators of their parents.
And on page 61 of their curriculum guidelines they advise educators: “Certain social movements promote greater equality and dignity within marriage. These include: movements to legalize same-sex marriage”
In the same document, International Planned Parenthood Federation tell teachers of young children that sexual self-abuse is a human right. They say:
“Sexuality may be expressed by oneself … Sexuality — expressed alone…can be a source of pleasure and meaning in life.” (p.84) “… Masturbation is an important way that people learn about their bodies and sexuality … Masturbation is a safe sexual behavior. It is neither physically nor mentally harmful.” (p.99)]
IPPF states on Page 81 of “It’s All One Curriculum”: “An educator’s own values should not interfere with teaching about sexuality … Use respectful terms…particularly in regard to same-sex attraction, sexually active girls, and young people who do not conform to conventional gender norms … Teachers must…respect their confidentiality.” This is a thinly-veiled warning to teachers that they must not obstruct children’s so-called sexual rights but that they must obstruct parents as the primary educators of their children.
My dear fellow parents, I want now to draw attention to Dr Jeffrey Sachs, a special advisor to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and his work, at a very high level in the Vatican and with the Vatican’s support, of opposing and undermining parents as the primary educators of their children worldwide.
Jeffrey Sachs heads the Sustainable Solutions Network, which was responsible for producing a draft for the Sustainable Development Goals, which call for increased access to abortion and contraception worldwide.
Jeffrey Sachs made a plea for legalizing abortion as a cost-effective way to eliminate “unwanted children” when contraception fails in his 2008 book Commonwealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet.
In June last year (2015) he called for the UN to provide 1 million healthcare workers for Africa. That is 1 million UN workers travelling through Africa promoting abortion and contraception.
Sachs was in the Vatican in November 2015 to take part in a workshop organised by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences which discussed how to “use children as agents of change” in pursuing sustainable development and the environmental agenda.
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences’ workshop explicitly cited the papal encyclical LaudatoSi, as the basis for its work and in truth such efforts seem to be endorsed by the encyclical in paragraphs 13 and in paragraphs 209-215.
I repeat: the subject of the Vatican Workshop last November was “using children as agents of change” in pursuing sustainable development and the environmental agenda.
Laudato Si makes no reference to parents as the primary educators of their children. Using children as agents of change in pursuing sustainable development and the environmental agenda will very soon become a required part of school curricula throughout the world. Have no doubt that the worldwide population control powers-that-be, led by people like Jeffrey Sachs, will make their influence well and truly felt in shaping those school curricula.
We are seeing exactly the same pattern here as I noted in the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s sex education programme It’s All One Curriculum in which teachers are guided to manipulate young people in order that young people see themselves as the educators of their parents on making abortion and contraception freely available. Remember that the note for teachers on page 231 reads: “People can support or join movements for social change at the global level. For example: …youth-led networks for sexual and reproductive rights and services.”
It is extremely disturbing that at the very moment when the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, the organization which I lead, and other pro-life organisations, have been fighting tooth-and-nail at the United Nations to protect developing countries from the pro-abortion, pro-contraception, anti-parent elements written into the sustainable development goals, that the Holy See has been seeking Jeffrey Sachs’s advice and permitting him to help shape the Holy See’s policies on sustainable development.
Jeffrey Sachs has played a leading role at Vatican conferences and workshops on these matters no less than six times in the last few years and has had a personal audience with Pope Francis.
I note here with great foreboding that the omission of any reference to Church teaching on the use of contraception in the papal encyclical on the environment leaves Catholics ill-prepared to resist the international population control agenda. The encyclical calls for increased international environmental action in paragraphs 173-175, while neglecting to prepare Catholics for what such action will undoubtedly involve: renewed attempts to further impose contraception and abortion on the developing world. There is now a grave danger that our children will be exposed to this agenda under the guise of education on environmental concerns. The proposed plans of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and the lack of clear teaching on these dangers in the encyclical, put us on our guard. Catholic parents must resist all attacks on our children, even when they emanate from within the Vatican.
We must have the maturity to speak out when things are badly wrong at the highest levels of the Church and offer our own perspective in all humility to those in positions of authority.
In fact, as lay Catholics and, for those of us who are parents, as mothers and fathers, we have both the authority and the obligation to speak out on serious matters in defence of the common good. When we do so, we always seek to raise our concerns with the greatest reverence for the episcopal and for the papal office and solely out of a sincere desire to assist the hierarchy in its proclamation of Catholic teaching on life, marriage and the family and to further the authentic good of the family and its most vulnerable members.
In raising our concerns, of necessity sometimes publicly, we are fulfilling our duty as clearly laid out in the Code of Canon Law, which states:
“According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they [the Christian faithful] have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.” (Canon 212 §3)
It is a kind of martyrdom. We certainly have to be prepared to be isolated at best in our own parish and local communities and within our wider family units. At worst, we must be prepared to be treated with contempt, publicly condemned by religious authorities, and possibly prosecuted and imprisoned by the secular authorities – for example, as the homosexual cultural and politico-legal so called “rights” agenda advances around the world.
Dear Fellow Parents … It’s up to us parents … It’s up to us parents, in particular, in the National Association of Catholic Families. Last October, in the final report of the Family Synod, 257 Synod Fathers, or 94% of the Catholic bishops gathered for the Synod, voted to undermine our God-given authority as the primary educators of our children.
The sentence, in paragraph 58 of the document, reads:
“The family, while maintaining its primary space in education (cf. Gravissimum Educationis, 3), cannot be the only place for teaching sexuality.”
This is directly contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church which is that the family can be the only place for teaching sexuality if that is the choice that the parents make.
For my own part, with section 212, subsection 3, of the Canon Law in mind, I have written to His Holiness, Pope Francis, the following letter in relation to his Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, which deals with parents as the primary educators and other important matters:
With reverence and with attention to common advantage and the dignity of persons, and as a husband and father, I consider that the section of Amoris Laetitia entitled “The Need for Sex Education” seriously fails parents at a time when parental rights regarding sex education are under serious and sustained attack in many nations of the world, and at the international institutions. This section spans more than five pages without making even one reference to parents, albeit parental rights are mentioned earlier in another context. On the other hand there is reference to “educational institutions”. Yet sex education is “a basic right and duty of parents” which “must always be carried out under their attentive guidance, whether at home or in educational centres chosen and controlled by them” as your predecessor, Pope John Paul II, taught the faithful in Familiaris Consortio, Number, 37.
Your Holiness, Catholic Bishops’ Conferences around the world, including in Britain, are collaborating with our anti-life opponents in the birth control and sex education lobbies, in helping to impose corrupting sex education programmes on primary and secondary schoolchildren. Such programmes, including in Catholic schools, involve providing our children with access to abortion and contraception. Thus, Holy Father, the Bishops’ Christ-given authority, which we the faithful hold in such reverence, is being instrumentalised to scandalise and cause terrible harm to our children .Amoris Laetitia will serve to make this terrible situation even worse.
Holy Father, I believe, as all Catholics believe, that the Pope is Peter, the rock Christ chose on which to build His Church. The Pope serves the unchangeable truth of Christ’s teaching. However, Your Holiness, the Pope is not the master but the servant of the truth.
Your Holiness, once again with reverence and with attention to common advantage and the dignity of persons, as well as with my authority as a husband and father, I note that there are references to public adultery in the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia which fail to point out the intrinsic evil of adultery. I consider that such references will result in scandalising little ones in the way contained in Jesus Christ’s warning in verse 92, chapter 9, of the Gospel of St Mark.
Even worse, Holy Father, Amoris Laetitia, the Apostolic Exhortation, at the very least, raises the possibility that adulterous sexual acts may be justifiable. This shows a lack of mercy because it denies Catholics the truth about right and wrong. It denies Catholics the knowledge they need to exercise true freedom, freedom from sin. It also shows a lack of mercy because it sends children the false message that marriage is not indissoluble. Arguably, Your Holiness, the most effective way of destroying children is to destroy marriage as an indissoluble lifetime union of a man and a woman.
Holy Father, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that certain actions are “intrinsically evil” such things as adultery.
I believe, Your Holiness, as all Catholics believe, because Jesus Christ Himself taught, that marriage is indissoluble and, Jesus taught, if someone divorces or puts away their spouse and marries another, he or she commits adultery – which is considered a mortal sin, the kind of serious sin by which one cuts oneself off from God’s love. (Matthew, 19)
I believe, as all Catholics believe, because Jesus Christ Himself taught, that in going to Holy Communion we receive the body of Jesus Christ, God Himself: we receive life and the promise of eternal life. (John, 6:54)
Finally, Holy Father, I believe, as all Catholics believe the teaching of St Paul that if a person eats and drinks the body and blood of Jesus Christ unworthily, we don’t receive life or grace, we eat and drink judgement to ourselves “not discerning the body of the Lord”. (Corinthians: 1,11.29)
Holy Father, I know lots of ordinary Catholics both in my family life and through my work. I know women and men who’ve been deserted by their spouse for another person and either left alone with children or left alone without their children. If that deserted spouse were then to see their wife or husband with a new partner, receiving the Body of Christ in Communion, that sends the message to everyone, including the children, that marriage is not indissoluble after all. This is destructive of the truth about marriage. It’s also damaging psychologically and spiritually, not least for the children.
Holy Father, with reverence and with attention to common advantage and the dignity of persons, I appeal to you to recognise the grave errors in the recently published Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, in particular those sections which will lead to the desecration of the Holy Eucharist and to the harming of our children, and to withdraw the Apostolic Exhortation with immediate effect.
Yours sincerely in Christ etc.”
In the Gospel according to St Matthew, Chapter 14 verses 3 – 4, we read:
“For Herod had apprehended John and bound him, and put him into prison, because of Herodias, his brother’s wife.
“For John said to him: It is not lawful for thee to have her.”
Fellow parents, we must be prepared to be apprehended and put into prison, at worst; or we must be prepared to treated with contempt, isolated in our parishes, and communities, or to lose our jobs – by speaking out and saying such things as: “It is not lawful for you to teach my children that abortion is OK, that contraception is OK, that homosexual so-called ‘marriage’ is OK”. We are being called by God to bear supreme witness to the truth of the faith that parents are the primary educators of their children.
 Issued on 15th May 1891
 28th October 1965
 22nd November 1981
 8 December 1995
 The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, no. 42