Thursday, September 20, 2007

Amnesty International: Catholics to 'withdraw their support'

New Update (from SPUC): Members are resigning from Amnesty International over their new stance on supporting a right to abortion. According to the Independent newspaper, Amnesty branches in Birmingham, Kent, Leeds, Liverpool and Newcastle, England, have been affected by the resignation of long-standing supporters. Mr Neville White, chairman of the Bromley and Orpington, Kent, group, said: "I think the leadership of Amnesty have failed to grasp how divisive this policy has been and instead taken the view that they must not buckle to the views of local campaigners. Much of the strength of Amnesty lies in the work of its local activists who are on the streets weekend after weekend and yet the consultation of the membership was at best too brief and lacking in the necessary depth to tackle such a sensitive subject." [Independent, 1 September]

And from Northern Ireland: Some Catholic schools are disbanding their Amnesty International support groups over its stance on abortion. The church's hierarchy in Northern Ireland said it was inappropriate for schools to support the organisation. Amnesty International confirmed its controversial decision to back abortion in some circumstances, replacing its previous policy of neutrality. The human rights group will campaign for women to have access to abortion in cases including rape and incest. Several senior clergymen have resigned from Amnesty in protest. 'Difficult situation' The auxiliary bishop of Down and Connor, Donal McKeown, said a school in which he served as a governor had asked
him if it should continue to have an Amnesty International support group.
"There was some concern about it already and I approached Bishop Walsh who, in
response to that particular query from that particular school, said he thought
it would be inappropriate, for an Amnesty branch to be continuing in the
school. "If it is a policy regarding one school, it certainly would be a
policy regarding all the Catholic schools in the diocese of Down and Connor.
"Amnesty's espousal in recent months of campaigning for abortion access in
limited circumstances will leave many people in a difficult situation. "All
we are saying here is that it seemed in appropriate in those circumstances for
Catholic schools to be promoting the organisation." Patrick Corrigan,
Amnesty's Northern Ireland programme director, said: "Amnesty International and
the Catholic church have more in common than that which divides us, namely the
issue of sexual and reproductive rights." Amnesty International said its
position on abortion had been informed by its work in areas like Darfur, "where
rape is used systematically as a weapon of war". However, several Catholic
schools in Belfast have stopped work for the organisation, including Rathmore
Grammar and Our Lady and St Patrick's College.

Update 06/08/07: Amnesty International will officially launch its new pro-abortion stance on 11 August in Mexico City. Ms Kate Gilmore, deputy secretary-general, has said: "The Catholic Church, through a misrepresented account of our position on selective aspects of abortion, is placing in peril work on human rights." She went on to say that Amnesty would take action in Nigeria and Latin America which have restrictive abortion laws. She said "We're here to do what's right, whether it's unpopular or otherwise." [EWTN 30 July]

Action 15/06/07: all support of AI must cease. Cardinal Martino, perhaps wishing to avoid the appearance of precluding Catholics' own judgement on the matter, says that 'individuals and Catholic organizations must withdraw their support' 'if ... Amnesty International persists in this course of action'. The persistence of Amnesty International in this course of action - campaigning for abortion in certain circumstances - is, alas, quite certain, since they have already had a long drawn out debate within the organisation and received many pleas from outside it (see here, here, and here). AI has charted its course, and Catholics must regretfully disembark. AI's confused, arrogant and completely unrepentant response to Cardinal Martino can be seen here. For an excellent 'First Things' article on Amnesty and abortion see here.

From CFNews: The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is encouraging Catholics to withdraw support from Amnesty International since the groups no longer defends the right to life. Cardinal Renato Martino told the National Catholic Register that the recent decision by the human rights group to promote abortion 'rights' is a betrayal of its identity. 'By pushing for the decriminalisation of abortion as part of their platform, Amnesty International has disqualified itself as a defender of human rights,' he said. 'If AI is no longer willing to stand up for the most basic human right -- the right to life -- then the very integrity of the organization is called into question.' Amnesty International was founded in 1961 by Peter Benson as a defender and promoter of the inalienable rights of the human person. Now it has joined other international organizations, such as the United Nations Children's Fund, in promoting a so-called right to abortion, at least in certain cases. Cardinal Martino, who served as the Holy See's permanent observer at the United Nations, says that this change of position is part of the 'pro-death' agenda in the culture. 'The pro-death agenda […] is cloaked in human rights language, but in reality it undermines the very human rights it portends to support,' Cardinal Martino said. 'Its logical conclusion is the destruction of life and all of the life-giving values that we as a human family and as a society should be grateful for. De-sensitizing the culture to the evil of abortion is part and parcel of the pro-abortion lobby.' However, the 74-year-old cardinal recognized that pro-choice organizations have not succeeded in establishing an 'internationally recognized human right' to abortion. 'I was head of the Holy See delegation to the Cairo Conference on Population and Development when that issue was settled definitively,' Cardinal Martino stated. 'Paragraph 8.25 of the Cairo Declaration clearly states, 'In no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning … and every attempt should be made to eliminate the need for abortion.'

The cardinal said that Amnesty International's decision means Catholics and Catholic organizations should no longer financially support the group. 'The very promotion of abortion opens the door to the slippery slope of evil and death, where human rights are taken away from the most innocent and vulnerable children of God,' he said. 'I believe that, if in fact Amnesty International persists in this course of action, individuals and Catholic organizations must withdraw their support.'


Anonymous said...

Amnesty International's patronising and insulting response to the Cardinal's statement can be found on their website.

Webmaster said...

Thanks very much, and pass the sick-bag. We've added it to the post, but here is the link .

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen