2016-07-27
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WASHINGTON July 11 (AP)--By a 416-1 vote Tuesday, the House condemned a campaign led by a Catholic abortion rights group to change the status of the Holy See at the United Nations.

``If anything the Holy See deserves a more prominent role in the United Nations,'' said Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., author of the nonbinding resolution objecting to the effort to end the permanent observer status the Holy See has held at the U.N. since 1964.

Catholics for a Free Choice has been leading the campaign, named ``See Change,'' demanding a review of the Holy See's status and urging that it be treated as a non-governmental organization.

The abortion rights group says the Holy See has misused its status, which gives it many of the same rights as a full member but not a vote in the U.N. General Assembly, to push an anti-abortion agenda. The group says it has more than 400 signatures from organizations that want to review the Holy See's claim to be a sovereign state.

Smith, one of the House's most outspoken foes of abortion, said the proposal was ``an ideological power play motivated by anti-Catholic and pro-abortion sentiments.'' He compared it to past efforts to expel Israel from the U.N.

``This attack against the Vatican strikes at our bedrock democratic values that teach us tolerance for legitimate differences of opinion,'' House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, said in support of the resolution.

Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., has sponsored a similar resolution in the Senate. The one no vote in the House was cast by Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif.

The Holy See is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church in Vatican City. It currently has formal diplomatic relations with 169 nations.

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