Holy See on World Youth Conference Final Document

“The Word ‘Parents’ Does Not Appear Once”

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LEON, Mexico, SEPT. 28, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is the official position statement of the Holy See on the Guanajuato Declaration, the final document, of the 2010 World Youth Conference, which took place in Leon Aug. 23-26.

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The Delegation of the Holy See has participated in a constructive way in a spirit of good will in the World Youth Conference Mexico 2010. Our Delegation, however, has not failed to point out serious procedural and substantive issues.

1. The word “parents” does not appear once in an outcome document devoted to youth, which means that the vital role parents must play in fulfilling their responsibilities for them has not been recognized. This cannot and will not escape notice. The problem is further aggravated by the following points.

a. There is no agreed upon definition of youth in international law. However, the term is frequently being used to refer to 10 to 24 year olds (cf. UNFPA State of World Population 2003, Overview of Adolescent life, p. 2-3).

b. Notwithstanding references to children as young as 10 to 17, the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, which situates the rights of children within the context of the family, and acknowledges the rights and duties of parents, is not cited.

2. While a young man and a young woman, of the appropriate age, can marry each other, there is no reference to the family, based on marriage, as “the natural and fundamental group unit of society… entitled to protection by society and the State” (UDHR, art. 16). And States are not urged to develop conditions to help these couples found a solid family with particular attention to work, education and family balancing issues.

3. The reference to “comprehensive education on human sexuality” stands alone without reference to parents “prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children,” including religious, moral and spiritual dimensions of authentic human love, and related matters concerning the nature of sexuality, marriage and the family (UDHR, art. 26.3; ICCPR, art. 18.4; CRC, art. 5; art. 14.2).

4. In regard to the term “sexual and reproductive health” the Holy See considers this expression as applying to a holistic concept of health, which embraces the person in the entirety of his or her personality, mind and body, and which fosters the achievement of personal maturity in sexuality and in the mutual love and decision-making that characterize the conjugal relationship in accordance with moral norms. The Holy See does not consider abortion or access to abortion as a dimension of this concept, nor contraception or the use of condoms as an acceptable family planning measure. The same comments hold true for the expression “comprehensive education on human sexuality.”

5. In regard to the terms “gender,” and “gender equality” the Holy See reserves its position with the understanding that “gender” is grounded in biological sexual identity, that is, the two sexes, male and female. It reaffirms its final statement to the 1995 Beijing Conference and in so doing excludes dubious interpretations based on world views which assert that sexual identity can be adapted indefinitely to suit new and different purposes. It also dissociates itself from the biological determinist notion that all the roles and relations of the two sexes are fixed in a single static pattern.

6. With respect to the term “family…in its plurality of forms,” the Holy See recognizes one family form based on marriage, the equal partnership between one man and one woman, that is, husband and wife, and the duty of the State to strengthen the family, “the natural and fundamental group unit of society… entitled to protection by society and the State” (UDHR, art. 16). It acknowledges different and often tragic situations (e.g. widows, widowers, separated and divorced couples, orphans of living and dead parents).

7. In regard to the term “international instruments,” and reference to non-binding instruments in this outcome document, the Holy See does not endorse principles in any international or regional instrument that differ from those set out above, and articulated in her teachings. The Holy See also emphasizes the important distinction that needs to be maintained between treaties, which have been formally negotiated and adopted by states with the intention of creating legal obligations, and other international documents which do not have the authority of international law.

8. With respect to the procedural aspects of the 2010 World Youth Conference, the Holy See observes that the process and methods for generating the outcome document were unclear, and inconsistent. The irregularities and defects, which were of significant number and magnitude, continue a pattern that was also evident at the 2008 Third World Conference on the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and its outcome document to which the Holy See entered reservations.

9. The Holy See requests that this statement of interpretation be reflected verbatim, and annexed to the Guanajuato Declaration of the World Youth Conference, Mexico 2010, and included in the official record of the World Youth Conference 2010, at León, Mexico.

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