The Center of Concern—Another Bernardin Legacy
As I was glancing over the "Peace Justice & Life Institute" brochure of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, the name of Fr. Jim Hug caused a flashback. I thought he was the priest who told us to "just call me Jim" at the Women's Caucus in Copenhagen- part of the 1995 UN World Summit for Social Development. I recalled being shocked that a priest was so highly esteemed by this proabortion, pro-goddess caucus. Joanna Bogle of England also remembers "Jim's" involvement: "I did meet Fr. Hug at Copenhagen- he was at the Women's Caucus! I did not at first know he was a priest since he was not wearing clerical clothing.... Our conversation was brief.... I was naturally concerned that anyone involved with a Catholic group could be giving any support to the Women's Caucus."
Bogle's recollection indicated that Fr. Hug attended more than one meeting of the Women's Caucus, since we attended on separate days. What was he doing working with a group that is at odds with the Holy See? At the caucus meeting I attended, along with Fr. Hug, my daughter raised the issue of contraceptives being forced on young women in Third World countries. While a few supporters expressed their agreement, Bella Abzug (founder of WEDOthe Women's Environmental and Development Organizations) cut her off and took control of the caucus. Almost shouting, she told the women, "A handful of countries with the Vatican have stalled us. We are going to make a stand. The Conference on Women will be our last conference. We will get what we want! We will go on to change the world! O Goddess, help us." Since Hug was not representing the Holy See, what was he doing there?
While it is personally expensive, not to mention exhausting, battling the pro-abortion, anti-family agenda of the UN at conferences and their interminable meetings, it is even more irritating to see these UN players pop up by invitation in one's diocese. Contacting the director of the Office for Social Concerns, I expressed my dismay. Any hope of having Fr. Hug's invitation withdrawn was quickly dashed when Sister told me she would discuss my information with the bishop.
After Christmas I received a letter from Sister telling me that I had until Jan. 22nd to prove my allegations against Fr. James Hug, S.J., and his Center of Concern (COC). Did she realize how apropos her deadline was? It was the 24th anniversary of the infamous Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade!
As I began to research the Center of Concern and Hug, I learned that few pro-life or even Catholic organizations were aware of its existence. COC works quietly in the background using its weighty influence at the UN and with the U.S. bishops to advance the New World Order, here and abroad. Its material is shrewdly written from a socialist slant. Documents are sprinkled with references to encyclicals when a "Catholic" flavor is needed. This powerful "Catholic" think tank is humanistic by intent. Lou Jacquet (this article was sent by COC, but without a date or title) writes: "[The center's] overriding goal was to enable people to realize that humanity is united in a common destiny and to assist people in exercising their common responsibility to shape that destiny. "
It became pretty obvious that no matter what evidence I would submit, Hug would speak in Springfield. After all, Fr. Hug credits "the work of peace and justice offices [which] exists now in dioceses and religious communities across the U.S. that did not exist in 1971." Sister's office is just one of 198 that owes its beginnings to COC.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Jacquet notes: "Fr. Hug said the center was founded in 1971 at the invitation of the U. S. bishops' conference. 'The bishops were aware that the U.S. was playing a very strong global role, but that they had no think tank in the U.S. to help the Church relate to Third World justice issues,' he said. The bishops' conference approached the Jesuits to see about the feasibility of opening such a center. It was opened as an independently funded operation and has functioned that way ever since. 'Our real mandate,' the priest explained, 'is to help educate the U.S. Church about international justice issues from a faith base'."
An article COC sent from The National Catholic Reporter (not dated) explains how Fr. Pedro Arrupe, then superior general of the Society of Jesus, asked a Canadian Jesuit, Fr. Bill Ryan, codirector of the Social Action Department of the Canadian Catholic Conference, to move to Washington, D.C., to "assist in the establishment of an international center to study issues relating to development, justice, and peace from a Christian perspective.
"The proposed center, a joint initiative of the United States Catholic Conference and the Society of Jesus, was to be established as an independent organization.
"On May 4th, 1971, the center was formally announced by Arrupe and then-Bishop Joseph Bernardin, who was general secretary of the USCC, at a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General U Thant in his New York office. The UN setting was strategic: From its inception, the Center of Concern would have a global perspective....
"Its work focused on the United Nations agenda, which included the call for a new international economic order and a series of world conferences that addressed global issues such as population, environment, poverty, habitat, science and technology, and women. The center would participate in these."
How was the center financed? A Washington Post article discloses that Michael Novak helped "fund the center's beginnings in the early 1970s when he was a member of the Rockefeller Institute, a philanthropic center conducting research in the area of biology and medicine." This is the same Michael Novak who is part of the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin's Catholic Common Ground Project committee.
Jacquet quotes Fr. Hug as saying that the 1970s were dedicated to Third World issues at the UN. In the 1980s the focus changed to shaping "the U.S. bishops' pastorals on nuclear arms and the economy." The National Catholic Reporter adds that the center was also involved in the pastorals on racism and peace, besides becoming involved in "the peace movement, the women's movement, the labor movement."
In the 1990s, COC became heavily embroiled in the Clinton health care plan. Hug worked tirelessly with the Catholic Health Association for its passage. The Washington Post. comments, "Sometimes the center, an independent body, advocates views opposed to the official teachings of the Catholic Church. The funding of abortions that threatens the Clinton health initiative is one example.
"'Abortion has to be seen as important, but not the only important issue. Abortion is not the only thing that kills. To sacrifice the health care reform on the altar of abortion would be a tragedy,' Hug said" (emphasis added).
In this same article, Novak notes: "They [COC] tend to be totally uncritical about the agenda on the left, whether it's the abortion issue or the crisis-mongering in health care."
The 1990s have also seen vigorous involvement in the major UN conferences by drawing in Catholic agencies. Not only is Fr. Hug a member of the faculty of the Leadership Institute for Directors of Catholic Charities U.S.A., but he is also a board member of the United States Catholic Mission Association and the Religious Task Force on Central America. Using these ties, COC prepared "a policy statement and coordinating advocacy efforts for a broad religious
The 1990s have also seen vigorous involvement in the major UN conferences by drawing in Catholic agencies. Not only is Fr. Hug a member of the faculty of the Leadership Institute for Directors of Catholic Charities U.S.A., but he is also a board member of the United States Catholic Mission Association and the Religious Task Force on Central America. Using these ties, COC prepared "a policy statement and coordinating advocacy efforts for a broad religious network comprised of 125 national Catholic Charities offices, 17 national Catholic development cofinancing agencies [Catholic Relief Services in the U.S.] and their partners in the poor nations of the world, European and U.S. justice and peace commissions, and several Protestant interfaith organizations" (fact sheet from the Center of Concern, May, 1995).
COC's tentacles are entwined in the women's movement through its Women's Project headed by Sr. Maria Riley, O.P. (For more information on COC's involvement with the radical feminists, see Donna Steichen's Ungodly Rage.) Hug told Sister that "it is factually wrong that he worked with WEDO to impose unrestricted abortion, population control, and contraceptive or sterilizing agents on teenage women throughout the world" why then is he a key participant of the Women's Caucus? Why then does Sr. Riley work with WEDO? In WEDO's brochure (under the heading of "Health/Population"), it maintains: ". . . WEDO facilitated a Women's Caucus to push the issue of family planning beyond traditional boundaries to include women's empowerment and sexual and reproductive rights. More than 70% of the recommendations made by the Women's Caucus were included in the official UN draft document."
The Internet ties COC and WEDO nicely together. Under COC's Women's Project, we find the WEDO gopher listed under Links and Resources. Reading further, under the NGO Forum 95 Info, we are told about COC's training of women prior to the UN World Conference on Women. A series of meetings was sponsored by COC. The May 4th-7th, 1995 meeting in New York explains how participants "will have the opportunity to meet with members of the UN secretariat responsible for planning the conference and members of the Planning Committee for Forum '95, as well as key (NGO) women's groups, including the Women's International Tribune Center, Women's Environmental and Development Organizations (WEDO), and the Nongovernmental Liaison Service (NGLS)." Note the word "key" as an adjective for WEDO.
While clippings on the Beijing conference from a broad range of publications detailed the battle for life and the family that the Vatican Third World countries, and pro-life groups waged, Fr. Hug in his summary of the conference cloaks these facts with denial. He writes in the National Jesuit News, "It is a vastly outdated and distorted stereotype of the women's movement that sees it as a Western, middle-class creation preoccupied with equality, abortion, and power.... What about abortion and the charge that the conference was hijacked by radical Western, anti-family feminist forces? In a word, it was disinformation, a side show carried on by a small, vocal, sometimes vicious, but overall ineffectual group. At times they were supported [some say 'orchestrated'] by the Vatican delegation"[?]. Hug's statement is blatant disinformation.
The Wall Street Journal reports: "Adds Msgr. Peter J. Elliott, an official of the Pontifical Council for the Family: 'The whole problem goes back to who drafted the document. It was put together by North American and European feminists with ideas from the 1970s.... That explains its preoccupation with the pelvic zone'."
Fr. Hug emphasized to Sister that "the Center of Concern is not involved in pro-life issues; their issues are economic justice: poverty and education." It is well documented that the UN's solution for all of the above problems is population control through contraception, sterilization, sex ed, and unrestricted abortion. Since COC and Fr. Hug are key players at the UN, why isn't he fighting this aspect of the UN agenda? Why doesn't COC support the Vatican's reservations? Instead, there is only a pregnant silence from him and COC. (Pardon my pun.)
Concern for global peace and justice is noble if its foundation is based on the right to life. Without that basic right, no other rights are secure. How can a center dedicated to furthering peace and justice "not [be] involved in pro-life issues.... "?
(NOTE: Fr. Hug is currently listed on the web site of the Center of Concern as "James E. Hug, SJ, President and CEO")
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