by Steven Ertelt
July 3, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The nation’s Catholic bishops released a statement on Monday criticizing Amnesty International’s decision in April to take a pro-abortion position after decades of neutrality. They applauded recent comments from a Vatican spokesman urging Catholics to boycott AI and withdraw their donations from the human rights group.
Bishop William Skylstad, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, outlined the position of the Catholic leaders.
"The action of the Executive Council undermines Amnesty’s long-standing 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.
Skylstad said AI took the decision to advocate abortion for women in tenuous regions of the world who become pregnant after sexual abuse, but he said the AI position simply subjects women to more violence.
"Abortion injures the health and dignity of women at the same time that it ends the life of the unborn child," he said.
"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," he added.
He called on Amnesty International to reverse the decision when its International Council meets in Mexico in August.
Skylstad also applauded the words of Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who recently called for a boycott.
"If in fact Amnesty International persists in this course of action, individuals and Catholic organizations must withdraw their support," Cardinal Martino said weeks ago.
Bishop Skylstad said he hopes AI reverses its position so Catholics could once again support the group and its work on behalf 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."
The Catholic leader also explained that the Church supports AI’s position that women who have illegal abortions not be punished but said that criminal penalties against abortion practitioners who do them should remain on the books in countries that make abortion illegal.
A Catholic layman, Peter Benenson, founded Amnesty International.