British Catholic Parishes Must Deny Amnesty International Space Over Abortion

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 19, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Catholic Parishes Must Deny Amnesty International Space Over Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 19,

London, England ( — Catholic bishops in England have written to over 5,000 parish churches telling them that they will no longer be able to host meetings for Amnesty International. That’s because the group approved a new policy this summer backing legal abortions worldwide in cases of rape or incest.

Birmingham Archbishop Vincent Nichols signed the letter, that was also sent to more than 2000 secondary and primary Catholic schools. The letter says the group’s pro-abortion stance is "problematic."

Mike Blakemore, an Amnesty spokesman, told the London Telegraph newspaper that he is upset by the decision.

"It is disappointing that individuals and schools are being asked by the Catholic Church to consider alternative ways of supporting human rights," he said.

"Amnesty decides policy to further its work, not to make statements on moral issues or to enter into theological debates. Our policies on sexual and reproductive rights enable us to confront grave human rights abuses," he added.

Amnesty International was set up in 1961 by Peter Benenson, an Oxford lawyer and convert to Catholicism.

It had huge support within the Catholic community worldwide, but the decision to endorse abortion has cost the human rights group considerable financial and organizational support.

The letter follows the resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. He resigned with "great sadness" after more than 40 years with the human rights group.

The Bishop of East Anglia, the Rt. Rev Michael Evans, resigned as well.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, previously said Amnesty International had "betrayed its mission" by endorsing abortion. He called on Catholics across the globe to boycott the group.