My mother was not an art aficionado. Perhaps I’ve forgotten—but aside from a crucifix and some First Communion photos of us kids, I don’t remember anything distinctive gracing the walls in our 1950s bungalow.
But then came the Cuban Missile Crisis. In October 1962, during the Cold War, the Cuban and Soviet governments began to surreptitiously build bases in Cuba for a number of medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles, with the ability to strike most of the continental United States. Facing the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction, the United States considered attacking Cuba by sea and air—but President Kennedy chose, instead, to impose a military blockade.
The Kennedy administration expected the Kremlin to balk at U.S. demands, and prepared for a military confrontation. Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Communist superpower, warned that the blockade constituted “an act of aggression propelling humankind into the abyss of a world nuclear-missile war.”
Back in the U.S., nervous Americans went to church. My mother instituted a family rosary around that time—and on our living room wall, she hung a large print of a painting by American illustrator Harry Anderson titled “Prince of Peace.” In it, an oversized Jesus knocked gently on the windows of the United Nations Building in New York. Jesus’ appeal to the U.N., it seemed, was that the peoples of the world could live in peace with each other.
And by the grace of God, against all odds, the blockade worked. On October 28, 1962, President Kennedy and United Nations Secretary-General U Thant reached agreement with Khrushchev. The Soviets would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union, subject to United Nations verification. In exchange, the U.S. agreed to never invade Cuba. At the same time, the United States quietly dismantled all U.S.-built Thor and Jupiter missiles deployed in Europe and Turkey. The world had hovered on the brink of nuclear war, then regained its footing and found a peaceful resolution.
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In the years since 1962, I’m pretty sure that Jesus hasn’t lost interest in the goings-on in that famous edifice. He’s still knocking; but can anyone hear His gentle taps over the din of feminist ideology and calls for sexual license?
Denial of Gender Complementarity and Discrimination Against Women – In March 2010, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, apostolic nuncio leading the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations, issued a stark warning. He cautioned that the U.N.’s programs designed to advance gender equality were becoming “increasingly ideologically driven.” He noted that the U.N.’s own documents have advanced an interpretation of gender that “dissolves every specificity and complementarity between men and women.” Among the specific problems facing young girls and women, and which the U.N. either supported or ignored, according to Archbishop Migliore, were:
- Violence in the form of female feticide, infanticide and abandonment.
- Higher rates of discrimination in health and nutrition among female populations
- Higher rate of school delinquency, absenteeism, and illiteracy
- Higher rates of HIV/AIDS infection. Fully 75% of those infected are women between the ages of 15 and 24.
- Physical, sexual and psychological violence affects women; and 70% of human trafficking victims are women and girls.
Crimes Against Humanity? – As if proof were needed that the United Nations has developed an animosity toward religion, back in April 2010 it was reported by the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) that a high-ranking U.N. judge had called upon the British government to detain Pope Benedict XVI during the papal visit to Britain, and bind him over for trial in the International Criminal Court (ICC) for “crimes against humanity.” His offense? Geoffrey Robertson, the U.N. judge, asserted that Pope Benedict, as head of the Roman Catholic Church, was ultimately responsible for sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests.
Educational Discrimination – In 1999, the United Nations Human Rights Committee interjected itself into public educational funding, by declaring that Ontario, Canada’s policy of fully funding Roman Catholic schools was “discriminatory” because the government did not also fund lesser programs developed by religious and other groups.
Encouragement of Early Sexual Activity Among Children – And in March 2010, during the annual meetings of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, a controversial brochure was distributed to a no-adults-welcome panel. The brochure, titled “Healthy, Happy and Hot,” was intended for young people living with HIV, and contained graphic details about sexual behavior. The brochure assures teens and pre-teens that “There is no right or wrong way to have sex. Just have fun, explore and be yourself!”
Author Terrence McKeegan, reporting for C-FAM, explained that the brochure encourages young people to “Improve your sex life by getting to know your own body. Play with yourself! Masturbation is a great way to find out more about your body and what you find sexually stimulating….”
The New York Times reported that the U.N. Population Fund and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had co-sponsored a highly controversial curriculum which included instructions for children as young as five, showing them how to be sexually active, and training programs for adolescents to advocate for abortion.
World Youth Conference – One initiative seems to be modeled specifically after a Catholic program. On August 24-27, 2011, the U.N. will hold its first-ever “World Youth Conference,” which will kick off an International Year of Youth. The concept, reports LifeNews.com, is remarkably similar to the Catholic Church’s successful World Youth Day. However, rather than calling today’s youth to a higher standard of behavior and self-control, as did the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day, the U.N.’s World Youth Day would seem to have the opposite goal—namely, encouraging youths to follow their own basest instincts and “let it all hang out.” The Conference’s goal seems to be the transmission of U.N. ideology to a captive audience of young people.
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These unfortunate developments were not envisioned by earlier generations of Catholics; in the 1970s, Pope John Paul II spoke in glowing terms of the U.N., and encouraged Catholics to support its activities.
In fact, Pope John Paul frequently praised the United Nations’ “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” In his first encyclical, “Redemptor Hominis” (1979), he described the United Nations as “a magnificent effort” to establish the rights of persons, including the freedom of religion. In October 1979, he again spoke of the universal declaration, calling it “a milestone on the long and difficult path of the human race.”
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Just this week, members of Congress met to discuss funding cuts for U.N. programs. Since its inception, the U.N. has enjoyed the strong support of its largest contributor, the United States. But in January 2011, with the U.S. seeking new ways to meet its fiscal challenges, U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has pushed for “reform first and payment later.” Under Ros-Lehtinen’s plan, the United States would choose certain U.N. projects and activities that are in line with American interests rather than writing a blank check. This would foster greater transparency, as each U.N. office, activity, program, and sub-program, country by country and function by function, must be justified on its own merits.
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In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”
Like the loving Savior, the “Prince of Peace” in Harry Anderson’s painting, Jesus waits. Let our ardent prayer be that this year, the U.N. will open the door and welcome Him.