British Bishops ban church-based Amnesty International groups

British Bishops ban church-based Amnesty International groups November 19, 2007

From the Telegraph:

Thousands of Roman Catholic schools and churches have been banned from membership of Amnesty International because of its new policy on abortion.

Many Catholic schools across Britain have links with the human rights group, which was founded by a Catholic.

But more than 2,000 secondary and primary schools have been sent a letter from bishops telling them membership of Amnesty is “problematic”.

The letter, signed by the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, was also sent to more than 5,000 Catholic parishes to tell priests they could no longer host church-based Amnesty International groups.

It follows a decision taken by all of Amnesty’s 70 international groups in August to abandon the group’s neutral policy on abortion as part of its Stop Violence Against Women campaign.

The group’s International Committee voted to “support the decriminalisation 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”.

Amnesty International was set up in 1961 by Peter Benenson, an Oxford lawyer and convert to Catholicism. It has huge Christian support among 1.8 million members.

But its abortion policy has triggered an exodus of Catholics. Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, resigned with “great sadness” after more than 40 years with the organisation, as did the Bishop of East Anglia, the Rt Rev Michael Evans.

Yesterday Bishop Evans said: “The new policy puts Catholic schools and parishes in a very difficult position.”

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said Amnesty International had “betrayed its mission” by abandoning its neutral policy on abortion.

Mike Blakemore, an Amnesty spokesman, 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.

“It is disappointing that individuals and schools are being asked by the Catholic Church to consider alternative ways of supporting human rights.”

Past Vox Nova osts on Amnesty and abortion:

Australian Alternative to Amnesty

Pope says abortion “not a right”

USCCB Admonishes Amnesty International

Schism in Amnesty International?

Catholics, Stop Supporting Amnesty International

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