Second Catholic Leader Quits Amnesty International Over Abortion Stance

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

Second Catholic Leader Quits Amnesty International Over Abortion Stance Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 28,

Glasgow, Scotland ( — A second leading Catholic official has resigned his membership with Amnesty International over the human rights group’s decision to support abortion. Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland said he could no longer be affiliated with the organization after joining as a student more than 40 years ago.

The head of the Catholic Church in Scotland wrote the director of the group and said it gave him "great sadness" to renounce his membership but he can’t support a group that opposes a "basic right to human life."

"As a matter of conscience and with great sadness I have decided to resign from Amnesty International having first joined as a student and supported it over many decades," Cardinal O’Brien wrote about his decision.

"In recent years I have spoken out strongly on pro-life issues including our necessity to ensure life for the poorest people of the world and have shown my care and concern by visiting some of those poorest countries especially in Africa and Asia," he explained.

"Sadly now Amnesty International seems to be placing itself at the forefront of a campaign for a universal ‘right’ to abortion in contravention to that basic right to human life," the Catholic official said.

John Watson, Scottish program director of Amnesty International, responded to the resignation in comments to the Scotsman newspaper.

He said Cardinal O’Brien "misrepresents our repeated statements that we are not" promoting a universal right to abortion.

Cardinal O’Brien’s leaving Amnesty follows that of Bishop Michael Evans of East Anglia who said the group’s pro-abortion position would divide its membership and hurts its less controversial work.

"If Amnesty International becomes an organization which affirms the right to abortion, even under certain circumstances, it is free democratically to do so," Bishop Evans told the BBC.

"But it cannot expect those of us who are just as passionate about the human rights of the unborn child to feel at ease being part of such an organization," he added.