When the Dutch government traded honors and awards with Vatican officials last June, the Vatican officials did not announce the Dutch government was thereby approving and honoring the pro-life and pro-family teachings of the Catholic Church. Vatican officials did not do this because they know better. They know the Dutch government does not approve of Church teachings on key social and moral issues.

And yet, a video has come to light, first exposed by the U.S.-based Lepanto Institute, showing a Dutch development minister bragging that the Vatican had given her a high papal honor for her abortion advocacy, and this is false.

Lilianne Ploumen was one of ten official delegates from the Dutch government who met with Vatican officials. As protocol requires, at such meetings between governments honorific hardware is exchanged. Included in the goody-bag presented by the Vatican were medals associated with the prestigious Order of St. Gregory, among the highest papal honors given by the Vatican.

This might have gone unnoticed except that Ploumen decided to use it as a means to advance her cause of abortion.

The Dutch government is one of the most vociferous advocates of social policy that go against the teachings of the Catholic Church, including not just abortion but also radical homosexual rights. The Dutch government is one of the main donor countries advancing these ideas in UN negotiations and through its foreign aid around the world.

Earlier this year, when President Donald J. Trump reestablished and broadened so-called Mexico City Policy which forbids U.S. foreign aid from going to groups that promote or perform abortions overseas, Ploumen launched a global campaign to replace that money and thus far has raised about $390 million to kill babies in the developing world.

Pro-life Catholics reacted immediately when the Lepanto Institute made known the existence of the video tape where Ploumen is shown with the Order of St. Gregory medal, laughing and boasting that the Vatican approves of her work. One pro-life scholar working at the international level told the Friday Fax, “Either they (the Vatican) were oblivious or …. not oblivious which is even worse. There is no possible way the Church looks good after this. What a shame.”

The medal is typically awarded to someone who has done great service for the Church. John Klink, long-time negotiator for the Holy See at the UN is the typical recipient. He spent 15 years negotiating UN documents for the Holy See, holding the line against the promotion of reproductive health as abortion. He was nominated for the award by Archbishop Renato Martino, then Papal Nuncio to the UN.

There was immediate speculation that a Dutch bishop had nominated Ploumen for the honor. A senior Vatican official told the Friday Fax that he immediately phoned Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht who assured him this caught him by surprise also.

A Vatican spokesman explained that the medal was no more than part of a protocol exchange with an official delegation from a foreign country and should not be seen in any way as supporting the government’s or Ploumen’s views.

In recent months, the Vatican has played host to a steady stream of speakers who stand in public opposition to Church teaching on a whole host of issues including Governor Jerry Brown of California and various officials of the UN who tend to agree with Pope Francis on the theory of global warming.

It should be noted that Ploumen, who has identified as Catholic, is not considered a Dame of the Order of St. Gregory by the fact that she received the medal bearing his name. To be a Dame in the Order, she would have gone through an investiture ceremony with a Bishop. This did not happen. Critics, however, saw this as a misstep by Vatican protocol officials and say that from now on the Vatican must be more careful about who receives such medals at events with foreign governments. 

Austin Ruse is the editor of the Friday Fax: a project of C-FAM.org

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