Catholics at Beijing

Many more Catholic women will attend the Fourth UN Conference on Women in Beijing (August 30 — September 15) than went to the Cairo Conference. In a forum hostile to the Church, and in spite of a United States delegation led by radical feminists, these women will articulate and defend Catholic teaching.

As official delegates and representatives of non-governmental organizations, they will join 35,000 women to discuss women’s rights, the structure of the family, and the political import of gender distinctions.

Many congressmen, including Rep. Chris Smith (NJ) and House Speaker Newt Gingrich (GA), have strenuously objected to the UN choice of China as a venue for the conference. This society’s treatment of women is notorious, with its policies of forced abortions, mandatory sterilization, and female infanticide. In addition, China’s record on human rights is steadily deteriorating.

Congressmen also object to American women participating in a conference while a Chinese-American patriot, Harry Wu, arrested in June, languishes in a Chinese prison awaiting trial and possible execution. Preparatory meetings have been anything but calm and orderly, marked by closed-door meetings, duplicity, intimidation, and the last minute denial of hotel and visa arrangements.

Finally, the Chinese government decided to move the NGO forum thirty miles outside of Beijing and bus the participants back and forth. Their distress was evidently occasioned by the thought of thousands of democratic-minded women speaking out without restraint. Under these less than perfect conditions, Catholic women will have to focus on influencing the language of the final document, the Platform for Action.

Among the conferences’ distressing issues is the so-called “gender perspective,” one of the most pervasive problems with the 121-page document. “Gender” is mentioned 200 times in the Platform of Action while motherhood is mentioned 15 times, 12 times negatively. “Gender” has always referred to “male” and “female” in other UN documents.

This time gender is seen as an “evolving” social construct no longer tied to biology. Male and female are seen as only two of at least five genders including lesbian and transsexual.

The feminist strategy is to get UN acceptance of the language of “gender perspective” which provides further legitimization of “other” lifestyles, especially ones which do not lead to children. They are asking every country to work out ways to implement “gender perspective” in all policies affecting politics, education, and business and to see that it is enforced by government action.

This strategy brings the gender feminists and the population controllers closer to their dream of totalitarian population control. Besides control of fertility they now want to promote unnatural genders as a way to inhibit population in an arrogant redesign of God’s creation that pro-motes a disoriented sexual culture.

With his letter issued in early July, the pope has again taken the lead in alerting women to the trouble brewing at this UN sponsored fiesta. He has correctly identified the basic problem with the conference as not revealing “the full truth about women,” dealing more with economic and political questions, while virtually ignoring the social and ethical dimensions of a woman’s life. What he calls the “genius of women” receives hardly a mention. Such a glaring omission underlines the importance of Christian women’s witness in defense of a view of life based on freedom of religion, motherhood, and family life.

This conference is not just about women’s issues but about fundamentally changing a truthful Christian view of human nature and sexuality. To the degree that our tax dollars go to support these ideas, we are all touched by what happens in Beijing. To obtain a copy of the Platform for Action from the State Department call the Global Conference Secretariat: (202) 647-3129 or fax (202) 647-4787.


  • Mary Ellen Bork

    Mary Ellen Bork is a freelance writer and lecturer on issues affecting Catholic life and culture. She serves on the Advisory Board of the School of Philosophy, Catholic University of America, and Christendom College. She is on the Susan B. Anthony List, and the Chesterton Review. For several years she has facilitated groups studying Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body. She is doing research on Catholic leaders during the English Reformation and sixteenth century Catholic religious leaders. Her articles appear in the National Catholic Register, The Washington Times, Voices, and The New Criterion.

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