Notre Dame’s President on Board of Organization At Odds With Pope’s Statements on Condoms in Africa

May 12, 2009

Notre Dame’s President on Board of Organization at Odds With Pope’s Statements on Condoms in Africa

By James Todd

May 12, 2009 - In September 2000, building upon a decade of major United Nations conferences and summits, world leaders came together at United Nations Headquarters in New York to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets - with a deadline of 2015 - that have become known as the Millennium Development Goals.

Fr. John Jenkins, the President of Notre Dame is a board member of Millennium Promise, an anti-poverty group co-founded by former President Jimmy Carter and Notre Dame Trustee Raymond G. Chambers. The mission of Millennium Promise, as stated on their website is: "to support the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals." The Millennium Promise website links directly to the Millennium Project website, which contains the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Millennium Development Goal (MDG) #6 is to "Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases." Two of the Indicators used to determine progress toward MDG#6 measure condom use rate. Additionally, a U.N. fact sheet that discusses MDG #6 states that "Recent evidence shows that sustained, intensive behavior change and programmes promoting increased use of condoms, delayed sexual initiation and fewer sexual partners are reducing HIV incidence." It is clear that the achievement of MDG#6 relies heavily upon condom usage.

In March of this year, when Pope Benedict traveled to Africa, he sparked a firestorm of protest from the mainstream media, international AIDS groups, and homosexualist activists when he said that condoms were not the solution to the problem of AIDs. Subsequent, to the Pope’s remarks Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, stated that the evidence confirms that the Pope is correct in his assessment that condom distribution exacerbates the problem of AIDS. Fr. Jenkins membership on the Board of Millennium Promise, which explicitly endorses the MDG’s, including MDG #6, appears to put him at odds with the Pope’s comments early this year and Catholic Church’s teaching on the use of condoms.

A further issue of concern is Millennium Development Goal #5 which is to "Improve Maternal Health." In 2005 there was an enormous campaign to change MDG#5 to include women’s reproductive health – a code word for abortion. This campaign failed, but there is still an ongoing power struggle over this issue. Some organizations such as UNICEF and UNFPA have issued public documents stating that women’s reproductive health is indeed now included as part of the Millennium Development Goals.

Austin Ruse, the President of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a non-profit organization founded to monitor and affect the social policy debate at the United Nations and other international institutions, has followed the controversy over the MDG’s, and stated that: "There is no new MDG on reproductive health and certainly not one on abortion. This was proposed by pro-abortion UN agencies and advocacy groups such the Millennium Project run by Columbia's Jeffrey Sachs. Heads of state met in 2000 and again in 2005 and rejected this proposal. That still has not stopped these UN agencies and advocacy groups from insisting that there is a new MDG on reproductive health and therefore one on a right to abortion."

The attempt to include abortion into the MDG’s can also be found in a background paper prepared in February 2006 entitled, Access to Safe Abortion: An Essential Strategy for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals to Improve Maternal Health, Promote Gender Equality, and Reduce Poverty. This paper was prepared at the request of the UN Millennium Project.

Fr. Jenkins not only has a condom problem with regard to his board membership on Millennium Promise, he also has a growing problem with abortion and the attempt by many NGO’s and UN Agencies to include reproductive rights and abortion as one of the Millennium Development Goals, goals that Millennium Promise, the organization of which he is a board member, expressly support.

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