The Catholic Thing
UN: Get Out Now Print E-mail
By David Warren   
Saturday, 08 February 2014

Except for the ones I have signed, I do not sign petitions. I don’t like them.

As a literary genre, which includes the righteous proclamation that invariably precedes the space for all the names, I do not like it. I can understand how petitions can be useful, as voting can be useful, in any large decision-making process, where it would be well to come to the better result. Still, I dont like them.

More generally, I do not like reductionism. In human life, in human terms, a yes or a no must usually be placed within a very considerable field of qualification. And it will not be the same field, for every signatory. And yet it is that field, in each case, that makes the yes or the no significant.

The “Yes” of Our Lady was made against a field consisting of the whole humanly apprehended universe. It was the greatest Yes of all ages. It was the moment in which, on behalf of all ages, our humanity answered to God, out of the most profound free will, and said Yes, we mean Yes, save us! And the fact it was a woman who spoke for all, is in itself of such bottomless significance.

But that was not an Internet petition.

In defense of petitions, they are usually drafted to address a topic that has already been reduced to the simplicity of yes or no. There is no room on them for “yes, but. . .” or “no, but. . .”

I could lunge into my usual deprecation of “democracy” at this point. I could change the subject to “petitionary prayer,” on which I could be rather more positive. But let me stick with “petitions” of the kind to which we have become over-accustomed in this Internet era.

One that landed in my inbox this week I found especially absurd. I was being asked to sign yes to the defense of the observer status of the Holy See, at the United Nations. [Editor’s Note: This petition is an initiative of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, which is headed by TCT regular, Austin Ruse. – Robert Royal]

This status was held to be in jeopardy after the publication of a mendacious U.N. report, attacking the Holy See. As I condensed the matter in Twitter, the report was an “easily predicted vicious and ugly tissue of smears against the Vatican, full of irrelevancies and with nothing new.”

The report simply aggregated every piece of already-published dirt that could be found on priestly sexual scandals, all over the world. It then added gratuitous attacks on Catholic doctrinal positions opposing contraception, abortion, sodomy, and a few things more. It did not for a moment acknowledge that every priestly and organizational failing had occurred in defiance of the same Catholic doctrine.

           Petition to the Roman Emperor Gordian III from the Thracians, c. A.D. 240

The degree of hypocrisy will not be appreciated until we imagine a parallel attack on, say, the doctrinal establishment of Sunni Islam. Let us try to imagine a U.N. report that holds the Sheikh of Al Azhar in Cairo, along with his predecessors and staff, personally responsible for every act of terrorism in which a Sunni Imam has been involved; and then instructs Al Azhar to delete or rewrite all passages in the Koran and Islamic tradition that might be currently unfashionable.

For that matter, it might be used to support the pro-life teachings and sexual morality that are also intrinsic to Sunni Islam, and have been for 14 centuries – as the condemned Roman positions have been intrinsic to Catholic Christianity for 20 centuries.

Or let us even try to explain such things to media that instinctively hate not only our Church and her teachings, but beyond that, every sincere manifestation of religious faith that is trying to weather “the signs of our times.”

To my mind – and it is the only one I have to work with – the breach between our Church and the contemporary world of politics must be plainly recognized. Read not only that U.N. report, but almost anything that is written in an official capacity anywhere, touching relations between Church and State. The conflict is not subtle.

The United Nations is a compact of modern nation states. They consort there, and by factional means, reach decisions acceptable to the majority of members. As a “parliament of states,” the General Assembly is at not one, but two oceanic removes from the interests or the will of any actual people.

And in their arrogance, these quasi-legislators make a habit of forgetting this. Their “we are the world” proclamations are, in every word and by their very nature, always a lie.

Several individual U.N. agencies may still do some good work, and the use of the organization as a diplomatic clearinghouse has been sometimes demonstrated. But these accomplishments must be held in the balance against the evil that is done, by the politicization of every activity. Even in relief for refugees, or the distribution of food and medical aid, the political conditions that are attached to each activity are apt to make them counter-productive.

On such material questions as “population planning,” innumerable volumes could be filled with the evils done to living human beings, behind a posturing façade of “duly constituted moral authority.”

The Holy See has understandably involved itself in the lobbying efforts within the U.N. in the hope of influencing each policy for the best. But by doing so it is compelled (as in any political process) to lend legitimacy to collective results – to conclusions that are almost never compatible with Catholic Christian teaching; or for that matter with the teachings of any other major religion.

Hence my own refusal to sign an absurd petition. By its own membership, the Church has now lent legitimacy to a condemnation of her own being. How can this possibly be acceptable to Rome?

And if Rome will not dissociate from this vileness, then I pray that the vileness will dissociate itself from Rome. Godspeed those who would kick the Holy See out of the United Nations. I actually think they would be doing Gods work.

David Warren is a former editor of the Idler magazine and columnist with the Ottawa Citizen. He has extensive experience in the Near and Far East. His blog, Essays in Idleness, is now to be found at:
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

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Comments (18)Add Comment
written by Austin Ruse, February 07, 2014
Anyone who wants to sign can go to DefendTheHolySee dot Com. We're up to 60,000 signatures in five days!

Good column, David.
written by Michael Paterson-Seymour, February 08, 2014
In his encyclical, Populorum Progressio (1967)," Pope Paul VI wrote, "international collaboration among the nations of the world certainly calls for institutions that will promote, coordinate and direct it, until a new juridical order is firmly established and fully ratified. We give willing and wholehearted support to those public organizations that have already joined in promoting the development of nations, and We ardently hope that they will enjoy ever growing authority. As We told the United Nations General Assembly in New York: "Your vocation is to bring not just some peoples but all peoples together as brothers. . . Who can fail to see the need and importance of thus gradually coming to the establishment of a world authority capable of taking effective action on the juridical and political planes?"

Few would dispute that the need for some "world authority" is, if anything, more pressing than it was in 1967.
written by Avery Tödesuhl, February 08, 2014
Great curmudgeonly column, David. The U.N. Is a club not worth belonging to.

On the subject of world authority, there's the theory and there's the practice. Popes have regularly lauded the possible good a benign universal authority could accomplish, whether that be the Holy Roman Empire or the U.N. But as Evelyn Waugh wrote "The human mind is inspired enough when it comes to inventing horrors; it is when it tries to invent a Heaven that it shows itself cloddish." In practice these world authorities brought to life by humanity, end by being just another horror. Popes have regularly ignored this half of the equation.

The U.N. has a lifespan of probably 150 years before it disintegrates; the Roman Catholic Church will last until the Parousia when Christ will vindicate her in final judgment. Which group do you owe a greater allegiance to?
written by Jim M, February 08, 2014
Another odious feature of the UN is the influence of the NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations)- "Charitable" and other activist groups who throw a lot of money around in pursuit of social engineering schemes that quite often are in opposition to Christian Morality and common sense. These groups represent almost nobody except their wealthy backers. One is tempted to say the UN does more harm than good.
-Jim M
written by Sue, February 08, 2014
Great article, all should read up on the history of the UN. Once one knows its ugly provenance, like with the making of hot dogs, one can abstain with pride.
written by Augustine Thomas, February 08, 2014
That's the sound of young men roaring in approval that would be heard if any priest or other Catholic figure of authority ever spoke this forcefully about the obvious truth. (Usually they're too busy trying to weasel their way into some government function. EHRRUMMM Archbishop Gomez, AHHHULL..)
written by Lauri Friesen, February 08, 2014
While I agree with the author's positions on the UN and petitions, I signed that petition anyway. It was not in order to support the "status" of the Holy See at that vile and detestable institution, but to speak in the language they understand: quantifiable popular pressure. Signatures=opposition to that ludicrous "report".
written by Mack Hall, February 08, 2014
Thank you. The Church really shouldn't be associated with an organization capable of producing such degeneracies as its last attack on life and civilization. It would be like the Church having observer status at Stalin's annual Soviet.
written by Tony Esolen, February 08, 2014
A rare instance of disagreement with David Warren.

The Church has understood in all times and places that she will have to deal with thugs and imbeciles. Sometimes the prudential judgment is to consign them to oblivion, but sometimes it is to deal with them, to influence them to do some good or, far more likely, to dampen their eagerness to do evil. What she should do with the UN and its vicious bureaucracies is not clear to me. I need some more persuading. The Holy See's presence at Cairo and Peking was the single most effective factor in preventing the UN from doing a great deal of feminist mischief, and that and that alone is why the haters want the Church out of the way.
written by Rich in MN, February 08, 2014
"Keep your friends close -- and your enemies closer," as Lincoln would say. "The shepherd should smell like his sheep," as Pope Francis would say (en espan~ol, claro!). The 10,000 euro question is, how does one "pull off" what Jesus could -- associate with sinners but not compromise with, or be seen as complicit with sin? As Pope Francis is finding out, it don't come easy. Steadfast personal virtue and personal example -- and, of course, lots and lots of prayer -- seem to be in the formula. But we also need to cunning as serpents and gentle as doves. In that regard, I am most grateful to Messrs Warren, Ruse, Royal, et al at TCT for their diligent efforts.
written by Jose, February 08, 2014
To Mr. Seymour I would say that yes, a "world authority" with the genuine interest of Man (men and women)in view would be welcome, so long as this authority gave due consideration to subsidiarity (the doing of whatever needs to be done at the lowest effective level). But this current world authority is abrogating to itself the right to speak falsehood. Error has no rights. I don't know where you stand as you mostly sent the quotation. I agree with you, with qualifications. Regards.
written by DeGaulle, February 08, 2014
I am very torn over this issue. Mr Warren is absolutely right about this satanic organisation, but Mr Esolen makes a very prudent point. The devils want us out, so that should be reason enough to stay in, while holding our noses.
I also agree with the expressed distaste for petitions, but one calling for the disbandment of the UN would be less despicable than most.
written by CCR , February 08, 2014
"When they force you to go one mile, go with them two." The Church has no place in that motley crew. Their actions can be 'observed' from Rome more clearly than from New York. The cheek of the UN! Ha! No condemnation is issued about clitoral circumcision, the growth of slavery, the millions of abortions per year, and all the other marvels of this brave new world. But that is the punishment we must endure for letting Maciels and Geoghans fester all over the Body of Christ for decades. Thank you, your excellencies for such a fine job. Now all Catholics have to bear the shame. When are the so called Legionaries of Christ be disbanded and silenced like say Fr John Corapi was silenced and ostracized for his sins? Money, sex, and the peddling of influences have NO PLACE in Christ's Church. Expect persecution and much evil on the many for the sins of the few. This is only the beginning. Many of the popes of times past would have razed the LC to the ground, sending all their priests to be penitents for life, given all their money to the poor, de-consecrating all their properties and shaming their memory per omnia saecula seculorum. None of that has been done so now God is calling our enemies to do the job that our princes have fail to do.
written by AHR, February 08, 2014
The UN began by legitimizing Stalin and the Soviet Union, now it is the playground of Islamic extremists, Chinese Communists, and secular atheists. By joining this asylum the Vatican legitimizes the U.N.'s anti-Christian mission and exposes itself to its criticism. The U.N. does not represent the nations of the world. It represent the corrupt bureaucrats who side with evil more than they promote good.
written by CCR, February 08, 2014
For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality." I heard another voice from heaven, saying, "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities."

That should be clear enough.
written by mike flynn, February 09, 2014
I have been of 2 minds regarding the UN for some time. As an American, it is challenging to understand financing this forum for unabashed rent-seekers who appear to spend most of their time shredding USA. its lonely at the top. BUT then i accept that its better for dialogue to happen, in some form, than not. SO too the Vatican. Its a filthy world out there. Has the work of christ ever been easy? have the forces of evil ever been accommodating? Jesus made a profound statement with his torture and death. is the world not better off with the vatican at the UN table, disrespect and all, keeping christian values in the discussion, than not?
written by Louise, February 09, 2014
I think it is good to keep in mind that observer status is not gives the Church the opportunity to speak in a place where the voice of Christ needs to be heard. Whether or not that organization should exist is another question as is whether or not the Vatican should have signed the treaty in the first place but at least when it did, it made various clarifications about what that signing meant. I'm glad C-Fam is responding.
written by Graham Combs, February 09, 2014
In the 1970s, one used to see the occasional GET US OUT OF THE UN billboards here in Southeast Michigan (more commonly known as "Detroit"). But about five years ago on a drive to Hillsdale College, I came across another such billboard. These of course are written off as the work of cranks with the usual following name calling -- racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. I lived in New York for many years and the Manhattan Observer used to have what I thought of as the UN Police blotter. UN news was local news and the news was invariably bad. One example: a high level Egyptian official was an equal opportunity sexual harasser -- i.e in mens and womens bathrooms. Funny yeah. Revealing even more so.

GET US OUT OF THE UN! And by "us" I mean Americans and Catholics.

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