Wire Service: RTna (Reuters North America)


Date: Fri, Mar 25, 1994

VATICAN CITY (Reuter) - In a rare move, the Vatican said Friday it had summoned all ambassadors accredited to the Holy See to explain its position on population and development ahead of a major U.N. conference.

Diplomatic sources said the Vatican was trying to influence a U.N.-sponsored Conference on Population and Development, to be held in Cairo in September.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the ambassadors would listen to addresses Friday afternoon by Pope John Paul II's top two diplomats and his experts on issues of justice and the family.

Last week, the pope delivered a scathing attack on sterilization, abortion and contraception and urged the United Nations not to try to impose limits on family size.

The pope outlined the Vatican's firm position in an address to Nafis Sadik, head of the United Nations Fund for Population Activites. Sadik is secretary-general of the Cairo conference.

The diplomatic sources said that by summoning the envoys the Vatican wanted to influence the Cairo conference's preparatory document, which is to be drafted in New York next month.

The Vatican has in the past summoned small groups of ambassadors to illustrate its position on world issues but it rarely has invited all of the some 120 ambassadors accredited to the Holy See to explain its position on one topic.