‘God is bigger than Amnesty Int’l’ – U.S. bishops decry decision to promote abortion
WASHINGTON (Catholic Online) – The recent decision of Amnesty International to promote worldwide access to abortion services undermines the rights organization’s moral credibility and divides the global work to protect human life and human dignity, said officials of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference.
In an Aug. 23 statement, Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, decried the change in the organization’s longstanding abortion-neutral position as divisive and an affront to “people in many nations, cultures and religions who share a consistent commitment to all human rights.”
“The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops strongly protests the recent action of AI’s International Council to promote worldwide access to abortion,” Bishop Skylstad said. “This basic policy change undermines Amnesty’s longstanding moral credibility and unnecessarily diverts its mission.”
The organization's International Council approved the change in its abortion stance at a meeting in Cocoyoc, Mexico, Aug. 11-17 as part of its Stop Violence Against Women campaign.
The council passed the measure to "support the decriminalization of abortion, to ensure women have access to health care when complications arise from abortion, and to defend women's access to abortion, within reasonable gestational limits, when their health or human rights are in danger."
The bishop stressed that the belief that the human-rights organization’s policy change is “a compassionate response to women in difficult situations of pregnancy … is a false compassion.”
“True commitment to women’s rights puts us in solidarity with women and their unborn children. It does not pit one against the other but calls us to advocate on behalf of both,” he said.
The work of standing against the death penalty and “the crushing effects of dehumanizing poverty and standing with “prisoners of conscience, refugees and migrants and other oppressed peoples” must continue, Bishop Skylstad said.
“The essential work of protecting human life and promoting human dignity must carry on,” he said. “But we will seek to do so in authentic ways, working most closely with organizations who do not oppose the fundamental right to life from conception to natural death.”
“We call upon Amnesty International once again to act in accord with its noblest principles, reconsider its error, and reverse its policy on abortion,” he said, noting that the bishops had held almost a year of dialogue with leaders of the rights organization.
The director of planning and information for the USCCB Pro-Life Activities Secretariat, Deirdre A. McQuade, said in an Aug. 24 statement, “Amnesty International Sells Out,” that the rights group’s action “offers false hope to women” proposing “violence to solve violence and discriminate against a whole class of voiceless human beings: the unborn.”
“Abortion provides no relief from the realities they face. It does nothing to alleviate injustice,” said McQuade, noting that “a strong pro-woman stance would refuse to choose between mothers and their vulnerable children.”
She called on members of the rights organization to “prayerfully consider” divorcing themselves from it and joining with an alternative group. Wrestle with how God is “calling you to be authentically pro-justice and pro-life,” she urged.
“God is ‘bigger than Amnesty International and his plan for justice will not be thwarted,” she said.
A Catholic college in Australia and an English bishop have resigned from Amnesty International within days after the human-rights organization approved a policy to support efforts to decriminalize abortion throughout the world.
Bishop Michael Evans of East Anglia, England, announced in an Aug. 18 statement that he was leaving Amnesty after 31 years of active membership, while in an Aug. 20 statement, the Jesuit headmaster of St. Aloysius College here confirmed that the school will sever its ties with Amnesty International, noting the rights group new policy “explicitly excludes some of the most vulnerable members of society – the ‘unborn human.’”
While “many people will argue that we should remain inside Amnesty because of the overwhelming good that it does,” Jesuit Father Chris Middleton said the college leadership believes that “we have no choice but to leave Amnesty.”
“This policy explicitly excludes some of the most vulnerable members of society – the ‘unborn human’ – from its campaigns for human rights. To my mind this goes right to the core of Amnesty as a human-rights organization and as a body that gives primacy to conscience,” he said. “It strikes against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child which states that every child “needs special safeguards and care, including legal protection, before as well as after birth.”
Father Middleton pointed to the 1961 religious foundations of Amnesty International and its Catholic founder Peter Benenson being “influenced by his religious experience.”
“It is striking how many of the key early figures of Amnesty had strong religious connections – Quaker, Jewish, Protestant and Catholic. Far ...
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