By Piero A. Tozzi and Susan Yoshihara
(NEW YORK – C-FAM) At United Nations headquarters this week, President Elias Antonio Saca of El Salvador received the “Path to Peace” award in recognition of his commitment to the “development of peace in national and international arenas.” Archbishop Celestino Migliore, apostolic nuncio and permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, bestowed the honor in his capacity as president of the Path to Peace Foundation. The Path to Peace Foundation promotes initiatives of the Pope and the Holy See aimed at building “justice, charity and peace.”
President Saca was a media personality who gained the attention of El Salvador’s ARENA party and won the presidency in 2004. According to the Path to Peace Foundation, he was recognized for implementing judicial and fiscal reform, as well as programs designed to eradicate poverty in order to help El Salvador rebuild society in a manner consistent with Catholic social principles. After a bloody civil war, the country signed a peace agreement in 1992.
In his acceptance remarks, President Saca credited the “enormous contribution” of the Catholic Church to restoring peace and cited the 1983 visit of Pope John Paul II to the war-torn country as a pivotal event. He also touted his administration’s policy of promoting a “solidarity network” in impoverished rural and urban areas, providing incentives so that poor families would send their children to school and obtain medical examinations.
The award however caused an “outcry,” according to Raul Gutierrez of the IPS news service. Gutierrez reported that “Several Salvadoran Catholic organizations said they ‘regretted’ the foundation’s decision, in a letter to the Apostolic Nunciature in El Salvador.” Gutierrez did not cite the names of the organizations but said they disagreed with the foundation’s assessment of the president’s achievements. IPS news focuses on “civil society” and the “impact of globalization on the [global] South.” Among its supporters are the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, organizations whose population control policies run counter to the strong pro-life laws of El Salvador, whose constitution protects life from conception.
El Salvador has come under heavy fire from abortion rights advocates and in the media in the last few years, fallout from which led to a major scandal at the New York Times. In a story reported by LifeSite News, the Times published Jack Hitt’s April 2006 article, “Pro-Life Nation,” erroneously saying that a woman was serving a 30-year jail term for having undergone an illegal abortion. The Times relied on a translator from a UN-accredited non-governmental organization called Ipas that promotes abortion and sells portable abortion devices over the telephone. (C-FAM Friday Fax: UN NGO at the Center of New York Times Reporting Scandal) Due to the controversy the LifeSite News story caused, the New York Times was forced to admit it was wrong in an “editor’s note” but stopped short of calling it a “correction” or “retraction.” I posted on this scandal here and here.
Despite such pressure, El Salvador continues to maintain its protection for life in its various stages. This week, all 84 Salvadoran legislators signed the “Yes to Life” statement – part of a campaign to promote respect for human life in Central America – condemning abortion as an “abominable crime” and affirming the duty of legislators to “unconditionally” defend life from conception to natural death."
What a blessing that this tiny nation which has suffered from so much injustice should have such a good Catholic leader. I'm sure that all the money sent from Salvadorean immigrants here in the USA contributed to the well-being of the poor there. This is the family of God at work. We should help children get health care and schooling, not force abortion upon their parents.