Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Catholic Bishops Urge Amnesty International to Restore Its Neutral Position on Abortion

The U.S. bishops have joined persons urging Amnesty International to restore its neutral position on abortion and to reverse a recent decision by its executive council to take a pro-abortion stand.

The bishops' position was outlined in a July 2 statement from Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

He urged Amnesty International to reverse the decision when its International Council meets in Mexico in August.

"The action of the Executive Council undermines Amnesty's longstanding moral credibility, diverts its mission, divides its own members (many of whom are Catholic or defend the rights of unborn children), and jeopardizes Amnesty's support by people in many nations, cultures and religion," Bishop Skylstad said.

Bishop Skylstad noted the words of Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who recently said that "if in fact Amnesty International persists in this course of action, individuals and Catholic organizations must withdraw their support, because, in deciding to promote abortion rights, AI has betrayed its mission."

Amnesty International was founded by a Catholic layman, Peter Benenson, and has been a beacon of hope to thousands of prisoners of conscience and victims of abuse and torture.

"AI has been a source of inspiration to millions of supporters, including the many Catholics who are members," Bishop Skylstad said. "Much more urgent work remains, work which we believe will be harmed by this unprecedented and unnecessary involvement in the abortion debate.

"While the proposed action by Amnesty International may appear to some to support women's freedom or provide a compassionate response to women in difficult situations of pregnancy, abortion injures the health and dignity of women at the same time that it ends the life of the unborn child," Bishop Skylstad added.

"A far more compassionate response is to provide support and services for pregnant women, advance their educational and economic standing in society, and resist all forms of violence and stigmatization against them. The Catholic Church provides these services to many women around the world and commits itself to continuing to do so.

"Based on this commitment to women, the Church does not object to AI's stand against criminal penalties for women who have undergone abortion. In fact, the Catholic Church has long held that these women need compassion and healing, not punishment.

However, AI's policy also exempts abortion practitioners from meaningful penalties and thereby trivializes the harm done by abortion. AI's new policy appears to apply to every stage of pregnancy and has already led AI-USA to oppose laws against the killing of partially- delivered children. Similarly, the policy of advancing access to abortion to preserve women's 'health,' a word left undefined by AI, has not confined the practice to narrow circumstances, but in American law has led to abortion on demand."

The complete statement follows.

A Plea to Amnesty International Members

A Statement of the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Bishop William S. Skylstad, Bishop of Spokane July 2, 2007

It is deeply disappointing that the Executive Council of Amnesty International (AI) recently abandoned Amnesty International's neutral stance on abortion to take a pro-abortion position.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been among those urging Amnesty to reject this proposed change when its International Council meets in August; however, action by Amnesty's Executive Council in April 2007 preempted this process. I call upon the members of Amnesty's International Council to reverse this decision.

The action of the Executive Council undermines Amnesty's longstanding moral credibility, diverts its mission, divides its own members (many of whom are Catholic or defend the rights of unborn children), and jeopardizes Amnesty's support by people in many nations, cultures and religions.

As Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, recently said, "if in fact Amnesty International persists in this course of action, individuals and Catholic organizations must withdraw their support, because, in deciding to promote abortion rights, AI has betrayed its mission."

For many years, the Catholic community in the United States and elsewhere has admired and worked with Amnesty International in its efforts to advance the cause of universal human rights.

Founded by a Catholic layman, Peter Benenson, Amnesty International has been a beacon of hope to thousands of prisoners of conscience and victims of abuse and torture.

In this regard AI has been a source of inspiration to millions of supporters, including the many Catholics who are members. Much more urgent work remains, work which we believe will be harmed by this unprecedented and unnecessary involvement in the abortion debate.

While the proposed action by Amnesty International may appear to some to support women's freedom or provide a compassionate response to women in difficult situations of pregnancy, abortion injures the health and dignity of women at the same time that it ends the life of the unborn child.

A far more compassionate response is to provide support and services for pregnant women, advance their educational and economic standing in society, and resist all forms of violence and stigmatization against them. The Catholic Church provides these services to many women around the world and commits itself to continuing to do so.

Based on this commitment to women, the Church does not object to AI's stand against criminal penalties for women who have undergone abortion. In fact, the Catholic Church has long held that these women need compassion and healing, not punishment.

However, AI's policy also exempts abortion practitioners from meaningful penalties and thereby trivializes the harm done by abortion. AI's new policy appears to apply to every stage of pregnancy and has already led AI-USA to oppose laws against the killing of partially- delivered children. Similarly, the policy of advancing access to abortion to preserve women's "health," a word left undefined by AI, has not confined the practice to narrow circumstances, but in American law has led to abortion on demand.

I urge the members of the International Council of Amnesty International, when they meet in Mexico in August, to reconsider and rescind this new policy.

It is never too late to seek justice for all vulnerable and oppressed members of the human family.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Disclaimer

No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Clerical Whispers’ for any or all of the articles placed here.

The placing of an article hereupon does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Sotto Voce

2 comments:

Winghunter said...

Amnesty International is apparently politically motivated in the wrongest possible terms on a myriad of subjects and concerns.

They point their fingers vehemently at the lightest of situations while mysteriously being struck blind at the most hideous of crimes against humanity...They are not worth our seconds reflection.

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

"abortion injures the health and dignity of women at the same time that it ends the life of the unborn child."

That's one way of putting it.

Who cares what American Bishops say: political hacks.