The story of the award of the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great being given to the Dutch pro-abortion activist Lilian Ploumen has reached such levels of absurdity that it is difficult to avoid talking about a real pro-abortion lobby within the Holy See. Also, as has already been said in the last few days, this is only the latest of a series of ever more embarrassing “incidents” on which it would have been more than opportune for the Holy See to make a definitive clarification.
Now we have the Ploumen case, uncovered in recent days by Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute. As we have already explained, Ploumen, who is a minister of development for Holland and a super-activist for abortion and “LGBT” rights – and who, as a matter of fact, has a list of awards to make Emma Bonino jealous. It is difficult to understand how the Vatican could possibly give her an award given to those who are distinguished for their service to the Church.
The Vaticanist Marco Tosatti asked for an explanation from the spokesman of the Holy See, and on the evening of Monday, January 15, he received a brief statement signed by Paloma Garcia Ovejero, assistant to Greg Burke, according to which the award was given to Ms. Ploumen last June on the occasion of the “visit of the Dutch royalty to the Holy Father” and “in accord with the diplomatic custom of the exchange of honors between Delegations on the occasion of an official visit of a Head of State to the Vatican.” This honor, concludes the statement, “is therefore not in any way a placet to the politics in favor of abortion and birth control which Ms. Ploumen has promoted.”
This statement was obviously an attempt to minimize the affair, but the response – if this is possible – actually makes it worse. If one reads the statement one could think that, on the occasion of the visit of a diplomatic delegation, the Holy See prepares a table with a few medals on it, corresponding to the various orders of chivalry, which the guests then are free to take at random. But this is not the case. Such honors are given to the person and only after an evaluation of the merits of the candidate. The reason for the award being granted accompanies the awarding of the cross, the symbol of the honor.
This fact is confirmed by Ploumen herself in the video that made news of this story. She says, in fact, that her pro-abortion activism “was not mentioned,” but “it is interesting that what was mentioned was that it was for [providing] resources for society.” At any rate, she sees the award “as a confirmation of what is being done for young women and for abortion,” confessing that in recent years, she has spent a long time lobbying the Vatican, seeking its cooperation in various ways in developing countries.
Thus, this was no casual award. Who Ploumen is and what she does must be well known in the Vatican, even more because a few years ago, there was a decision to carefully restrict who would receive these honors after another scandal, which involved the same awarding of the Order of St. Gregory the Great. In the fall of 2012 in England, it came to light that the BBC presenter Jimmy Savile, who had died in 2011, was a serial molester of women and underage girls. He had also been enrolled in the Order of St. Gregory the Great. In that case, however, the award was given before the truth about him came to light, and the award was linked to the generous charitable donations he had given over the years. “No more easy awards” was the order from the secretary of state, and from that time on, there were stricter controls placed on such papal honors.
The Ploumen case is much more serious. In this case, it is well known which “civil” causes the Dutch minister promotes, but what is not known is what merit the Holy See recognizes in her work. Moreover, the Dutch cardinal Willem Eijk was not asked about the conferral of the award, as he made a point of emphasizing in his statement published on January 15. The Vatican statement – which covers up the matter and explains nothing – is therefore just as scandalous as the granting of the award.
It is beginning to become clear that there are those in high places in the Vatican profiting from this pontificate to advance agendas that have nothing to do with the teachings of the Catholic Church. On the question of abortion, it is necessary to recognize that Pope Francis’s words have always been very clear, even if he has not intervened to influence the political debate on this topic, as he has done with other issues. For example, he said, “Abortion is a crime. It is an absolute evil” during the press conference returning from Mexico on February 18, 2016. But he is surrounded by people who evidently want to turn the Church in another direction, in which the promotion of the LGBT agenda, with lots of “gay unions,” and openness to contraception while turning a blind eye to abortion all march together hand in hand.
It is therefore now more urgent than ever that there be a clear intervention by the pope to put an end to this drift, because in this case – whether intended or not – silence becomes complicity.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana. It is reprinted here with permission, translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino.
Riccardo Cascioli runs the news site La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana.