Vatican Can Live with Johannesburg's Plan of Action

Though Aide Laments a Change from ’92 Rio Declaration

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 6, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican has not expressed any reservations regarding the “plan of action” adopted by the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

But a Holy See aide lamented that the plan — the summit’s main document — eliminated the first principle declared by the 1992 Rio de Janeiro conference. That principle placed the human being at the center of development.

Archbishop Renato Martino, who led the Vatican delegation at the recent summit in South Africa, voiced that concern Thursday over Vatican Radio.

Additionally, on Sunday night, a debate involving topics such as contraception and abortion had erupted, threatening to undermine a global agreement at the Aug. 26-Sept. 4 gathering in Johannesburg.

A paragraph in the 70-page plan of action called for “reinforcing the means available in public health systems to offer all efficient basic health services (…) respecting national legislations and cultural and religious values.”

Canada requested that the conferees re-examine the paragraph, arguing that it had been hastily approved during a preparatory meeting. Eventually, the Canadians, supported by the European Union, simply requested the following addition: “and in keeping with all human rights and basic liberties.”

The move helped achieve a consensus. Some delegations contended the text could be interpreted as to include access to abortion. But others noted that the wording makes no mention of such access.

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ZENIT Staff

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