Australia Catholic Church Likely to Cut Amnesty Intl Ties Over Abortion

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 28, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Catholic Church Likely to Cut Amnesty Intl Ties Over Abortion

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 28
, 2007

Canberra, Australia ( — The Catholic Church in Australia has always been a strong supporter of the human rights aims and goal of Amnesty International. But, now that AI has adopted a pro-abortion position that runs counter to the Church’s pro-life teaching, that long-standing relationship may be over.

If so, Amnesty International will pay the price as thousands of its Australia members are Catholic and it has numerous campus affiliate groups on Catholic high school and college campuses.

Amnesty estimates that 500 Catholic schools have affiliate groups and those organization may cut their ties with the international parent organization.

Last month, AI adopted the pro-abortion position saying that supporting abortion is consistent with its position against violence against women, even though abortion causes significant medical and mental health problems. Previously, AI was neutral on abortion, which allowed Catholic groups to support it.

Father Chris Middleton, principal of St Aloysius’ College in Sydney, said Amnesty’s Australian membership would likely collapse as a result of the decision.

He told The Age newspaper that the decision is made worse by the secrecy with which AI leaders used. AI had planned to have an international debate in Mexico City later this year but its leadership council went ahead with the decision instead.

Melbourne Vicar-General Les Tomlinson said Australia’s bishops were investigating the decision for a nationwide decision.

"There’s always been a sympathy between Amnesty’s goals and ideals and the church, so this is a significant step," he said.

Widney Brown, Amnesty’s international director of policy, defended the decision to the newspaper and said the group will eventually explain the policy change. She contended that would persuade some upset members to stay with AI and not leave.

"As long as it stays in the abstract it’s a moral and philosophical debate. When people start reading about women’s experiences, it will start to make a lot of sense," she said.