Meeting could be an opportunity for the Holy Father to say “thank you for what you are doing.”
ROME — President Trump deserves to have his pro-life record acknowledged when he meets with Pope Francis on Wednesday, because when it comes to protecting life, “he has been true to what he said he would do, and very quickly.”
According to Father Shenan J. Boquet, President of Human Life International, there are “great things” happening under the Trump administration. He also discusses the concrete effects reinstating the Mexico City policy has had; the need for the United States to regain its “moral compass”; and the “tremendous” impact the US could have by defunding the United Nations Population Fund.
Aleteia spoke to Fr. Boquet at the 7th annual March for Life in Rome.
Fr. Boquet, what brings you to Rome?
Each year I travel to Rome as we have an office here. This year, I came to participate in the Rome Life Forum and a conference Human Life International hosted at the Angelicum on family and life, and to participate in the 7th annual Rome March for Life.
Tell us more about Human Life International
HLI has been in existence for 40 years. We have worked in 157 countries and will be working in the 158th soon. The main thing we do is education on bioethics, looking at abortion, contraception, protecting marriage and family life, reproductive technologies and euthanasia.
Those are our target subjects. The groups we deal with are mainly seminarians, priests, lay faithful, and lay leaders. But it also broadens into the civil society, so we work within governments and with government leaders on family and life to try to educate and form hearts and minds on these issues. We’re not a political body; we’re not a lobbyist group at all. It’s purely information, education, and providing supplemental assistance to those in leadership on these issues.
What are the greatest challenges in life and family issues that you see today?
One of the challenges, as Pope Francis mentioned earlier this week, is the exploitation of embryos. So many people are trying to exploit human embryos, whether from aborted babies by using them as experimental opportunities or in other ways. This is a global issue that has been happening primarily in the West. But it is growing, and we see it expanding even into underdeveloped nations where the Western world is intruding.
However, I think the overarching issue really is the dignity of every life, and I think that’s the biggest conversation. At the HLI conference we held here in Rome, at the Angelicum, this was mainly what we were talking about — starting with the dignity of the human person. Where does this dignity originate? Where does this inalienable right come from? Were we to start there, it would effect the way we look at law. It would effect everything that we are as a people were we to look at life from that perspective: that every human life, no matter how that life has come into being, or the struggles that human life will live — sometimes with disabilities, sometimes in poverty situations.
Does anyone stand out as a particularly effective leader in this?
Cardinal Sarah is very powerful, because very few people I notice in these conversations want to talk about the systemic reasons why we have poverty, and Cardinal Sarah has had the courage to say that we need to look at corrupt governments, corrupt political systems, the exploitation of human life. These are some of the systemic problems. In so many parts of the world there is no clean water, no electricity or sanitation, no education, healthcare. These are the things that are structurally needed to support life, family and society and we’re not talking about those issues. Instead we have governments that exploit. My own government that uses its money, until recently, under the current administration — praise God for this — which is changing the conversation. But we are using money to push these agendas globally. So my country very sadly has caused great harm in its policies and positions, and I see the effects of this on a global scale. This is what Cardinal Sarah has been challenging.
I was just in the Philippines last week, and I really love the people. Family and faith is so central in their lives, but they are struggling, because they are watching the Western influence. The Philippinos have a way of saying it: “When the United States sneezes, the Philippinos catch a cold.” Of course we see this in Africa as well, on both the eastern and western sides. I often say in my lectures and presentations: “Stop looking to us. We do not have the moral compass, because we have come to the point of beginning conversations with a disregard for human life and the support of the family.” Even in some of the most remote parts of the world, you will see the LBGT agenda.
Who is running it?
The UN. The United Nations is the main pusher, along with Western NGOs. They are pushing these agendas because they are pushing population control and contraception. Two men cannot have a child, and two women biologically cannot have a child. That’s where the surrogacy issue comes in, with babies being treated like a commodity, a material possession.