SHOULD CATHOLICS QUIT AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL?

The Catholic Peter Berenson founded Amnesty International in 1961 to identify and support prisoners of conscience around the world. Amnesty now has 1.8 million members including many Catholics and numerous bishops.

Up till recently Amnesty maintained a neutral attitude on abortion. But partly in response to thousands of rapes in Darfur (from which many women became pregnant) Amnesty now wants to focus on the prevention of violence against women as one of its main concerns.

A spokeswoman for the group denies this makes Amnesty “pro-abortion”: “Amnesty International’s position is not for abortion as a right but for women’s human rights to be free of fear and coercion as they manage all consequences of rape and other human rights violations.”

The Catholic periodical The Tablet says this puts Catholic supporters of Amnesty “in an unenviable position, torn between a desire to further Amnesty’s work for prisoners while unable to countenance its position on abortion.” As a result many Catholic bishops in England are quitting the organization.

I seems to me this begs the question: Does restrictive support for abortion (in cases of rape) trump all the good work that Amnesty is doing world-wide for prisoners of conscience like the courageous Aung San Suu Kyi who has just been thrown back into prison in Burma?

Even if the answer to that question is in the affirmative, could not an arrangement be made so that Catholic contributions could be sequestered from any abortion activities.

I find it hard to accept the proposition that Amnesty’s commendable work for prisoners of conscience the world over should be crippled or reduced because the organization supports abortion in case of rape and pregnancy (a position I daresay many Catholics also support.)

What do you think?

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14 Comments »

  1. 1
    SUZANNE Says:

    Many Catholics might support their position, that doesn’t make it right.

    If Amnesty supported something abhorrent to you, would you remain a member?

  2. 2

    Suzanne –
    You have a point. However, if Amnesty supported capital punishment (which I abhor), I wouldn’t ipso facto cancel my support for all its other benevolent activities.

  3. 3
    SUZANNE Says:

    I haven’t stopped supporting the things that it does. For instance, if they send me a request to sign an online petition for a person on death row, I’ll sign it. But I won’t send them money. I won’t join them. That’s what the Church is pretty much saying.

  4. 4
    Barbara Says:

    I believe we have an Incarnated God so that we may know that we are loved and cared for in the context of a life that may, at times, be cruel and very murky. For this reason, although I do not think abortion to be a moral solution in general, I am confident in a merciful God Who loves and saves even when less than perfect decisions are made in the midst of rape in wartime.
    I do not support Amnesty International financially, but have no problem with such support. They do so much other good work that is less controversial to us. It would be unfortunate if this were curtailed.

  5. 5
    Jen R Says:

    It is not actually true that AI is now supporting abortion only in the case of rape. Their internal documents show that

  6. 6
    Jen R Says:

    It is not actually true that AI is now supporting abortion only in the case of rape. Their internal documents show that they interpret their new policy to mean that “AI will be in a position to call for access to legal and safe abortions in almost all cases”.

    (sorry if this posts twice)

  7. 7

    Barbara –
    There is a problem but your answer is very nuanced and I agree with it.

  8. 8

    Jen –

    Thanks for your comment. My sources are basically in England and I am not aware that Amnesty is calling for a blanket access to abortion.

  9. 9
    SUZANNE Says:

    I believe we have an Incarnated God so that we may know that we are loved and cared for in the context of a life that may, at times, be cruel and very murky. For this reason, although I do not think abortion to be a moral solution in general, I am confident in a merciful God Who loves and saves even when less than perfect decisions are made in the midst of rape in wartime.

    Of course God is merciful. But his mercy isn’t an excuse to sin. That’s very plain in the Bible, and just common sense. That’s the whole point.

  10. 10
    Barbara Says:

    You miss the point, Suzanne. A merciful God is not an excuse to sin. People sin. That is a fact. Even the Pope and Mother Teresa have sinned. The point is, we should not be judgmental. Being judgmental is also a sin. The point is, we all count on a merciful God who understands the painful and difficult decisions we must make at times. A sinful act and being culpable for sin are two different things. The distinction is best left to God. Let us all hope and pray we are not put into circumstances where we are forced to choose between two evils. Lack of compassion is also a sin.

  11. 11
    SUZANNE Says:

    Judging sin is not a sin. In fact, it is plain in the Gospel that if we see people sin, we should bring it to the church so that the church can correct him. And if he won’t listen to the church, the sinner should be “treated like a tax collector”. This is all spelled out by Jesus. So if we see something wrong, we have to say something.

  12. 12
    Barbara Says:

    That is, IF you SEE something wrong happening.
    Things may look wrong, but not be wrong — what I call culpable. Jesus made a point about that when he was criticized for picking grain and eating it on the Sabbath. That was a clear violation of the rules set down in the Bible. Is that Jesus, being God, is “allowed” to sin or that maybe the interpretation of the Bible was not in keeping with God’s way of thinking?
    Didn’t Jesus expect you to talk it over with the person who appears to be in sin first? Perhaps you can do good by helping them see the error or perhaps you can learn that the person was doing as moral an act as they could and deserves our compassion and help.
    There was something said, I remember, about removing the log from your own eyes before commenting on the splinter in another’s.
    These are hard words to live by. I find them so.

  13. 13
    Chimera Says:

    This is good! Two self-appointed super-Catholics squaring off at one another!

    Neil, you charging for admission? If so, I’ll buy a season’s pass…

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