Pope Francis saved all his conservative civic and social-issues message for the various heads-of-state gathered at the UN General Assembly in New York.
The Pope praised human rights norms that are championed in UN documents — but then scolded their misuse. “When, on the other hand, the norm is considered simply as an instrument to be used whenever it proves favorable, and to be avoided when it is not, a true Pandora’s box is opened, releasing uncontrollable forces which gravely harm defenseless populations, the cultural milieu and even the biological environment,” he said.
While Francis was low-key on social issues in Washington, D.C. and even told the U.S. Bishops they should not speak in divisive language, in his speech to the UN this morning he referred to “falsely universalist ideologies… capable of perpetrating tremendous atrocities.”
The meaning of “falsely universalist ideologies” becomes clear when he also condemns “ideological colonialism,” something the African Bishops have complained about for years. That is a direct reference to the work of some UN agencies and powerful NGOs who have used UN development money to export western-style ideas of human sexuality including contraception, abortion, and a redefinition of the family to include homosexual couples and the new transgender movement.
The Pope also at least indirectly talked about the importance of man-woman marriage when he highlighted the differences between men and women based in human nature and when he condemned “ideological colonialization” that imposes “anomalous models and lifestyles which are alien to people’s identity.”
Francis condemned “the marketing of human organs and tissues,” which is reference to the gruesome videotaped activities of Planned Parenthood.
He also speaks out on the question of abortion, referring to the “sacredness of every human life” including “the unborn.” The UN is the font of an now twenty year effort to make abortion a universal human right through UN documents, something the Holy See at the UN has assiduously opposed.
The document the Pope is about to approve includes references to “sexual and reproductive health”, a phrase that is used by US actors to mean abortion. The Holy See has consistently opposed the phrase and when pushed has resorted to applying “reservations” to documents where it is used.
The Pope spoke repeatedly about the “rule of law”, something that will make American conservatives happy as they see this as the underpinning of any true development in corruption ravaged poor countries.
Francis is the fourth Pope to address the UN. First was Paul VI in 1965, followed twice by John Paul II and then in 2008 by Benedict XVI.
Follow Austin Ruse on Twitter @austinruse