The U.S. bishops are urging Amnesty International to restore its neutral position on abortion and to reverse a recent decision by its executive council to take a pro-abortion stand.
The bishops’ position was outlined in a July 2 statement from Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He urged Amnesty International to reverse the decision when its International Council meets in Mexico in August.
“The action of the executive council undermines Amnesty’s longstanding 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.
“Much more urgent work remains, work which we believe will be harmed by this unprecedented and unnecessary involvement in the abortion debate,” said Bishop Skylstad.
The bishop noted the words of Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who recently said that if Amnesty maintains its decision, individuals and Catholic organizations must withdraw their support.
“While the proposed action by Amnesty International may appear to some to support women’s freedom or provide a compassionate response to women in difficult situations of pregnancy, abortion injures the health and dignity of women at the same time that it ends the life of the unborn child,” Bishop Skylstad added.
“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. The Catholic Church provides these services to many women around the world and commits itself to continuing to do so,” he stated.
“Based on this commitment to women, the Church does not object to AI’s stand against criminal penalties for women who have undergone abortion,” said the bishop. “In fact, the Catholic Church has long held that these women need compassion and healing, not punishment.
“However, AI’s policy also exempts abortion practitioners from meaningful penalties and thereby trivializes the harm done by abortion,” he continued. “AI’s new policy appears to apply to every stage of pregnancy and has already led AI-USA to oppose laws against the killing of partially-delivered children,” he underlined.