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Archdiocese of Panama warns of abortion group claiming ‘Catholic’ title

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The Archdiocese of Panama warned the country’s faithful that “Catholics for the Right to Decide” (CDD in Spanish), which is trying to establish a presence in the country, is actually a partner organization of Catholics for Choice, a U.S. organization that promotes abortion.

In a statement issued February 20, the archdiocese stated that the “main objective” of Catholics for the Right to Decide “is to eliminate the world's greatest opponent against abortion: the Catholic Church.”

“This anti-life organization is trying to have a presence in Panama. Its purpose is to convince Catholics and non-Catholics that abortion is an ethically valid alternative for Catholic women, despising and ridiculing the fundamental teachings of the Church, and aggressively promoting contraception and abortion,” the archdiocese warned.

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“By demanding or legally recognizing the right to kill, the basis of human rights is subverted and the right to life is denied,” the archdiocese said.

The feminist organization takes its inspiration from its long-serving president Frances Kissling, who briefly joined the Sisters of Saint Joseph in the United States, before leaving the convent and directing an abortion clinic in New York.

Kissling is also the founder of the National Abortion Federation, and was president of Catholics for a Free Choice until 2007, the same year the organization’s name was shortened to Catholics for Choice.

The organization’s current president is Jamie Manson. According to the Catholics for Choice website, Manson “for 12 years was a columnist at the National Catholic Reporter where she was one the few openly LGBTQ journalists in the Catholic media in the world.”

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The Archdiocese of Panama also highlighted the financing behind the activities of Catholics for the Right to Decide, which includes “millions of dollars received from openly anti-life U.S. groups such as the Ford Foundation.”

“In Latin America their agenda is clear: Foster Catholic dissent on the issue of abortion and contraceptives, provide Catholics with a supposed ‘rational alternative’ to Church doctrine, and ‘educate’ about reproductive health rights (abortion and systematic contraception) in Latin America.”

The archdiocese made it clear that Catholics may not support abortion, and said the “Catholics for the Right to Decide” organization cannot be properly called Catholic.

“When Catholics feel confused by the arguments in favor of abortion, they simply must turn to ecclesial documents such as the encyclical of Saint John Paul II, ‘Evangelium Vitae,’ to note that the teachings of the Church go hand in hand with morality, and abortion will always be against the faith because it involves the deliberate death of an innocent human being,” the archdiocese said.

It added that “the Church defends life from conception to death, and opposes abortion even in cases of rape, because revulsion against a crime can never become revulsion against an innocent child that has been conceived.”

In 1993, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement declaring that “Catholics for a Free Choice merits no recognition or support as a Catholic organization.”

In Brazil, the Don Bosco Center for Faith and Culture Association filed suit arguing that the use of the term “Catholic” by Catholics for the Right to Decide is fraudulent, since “under the pretext of defending the 'reproductive rights of women,'” it is actually promoting the “murder of babies in the womb.”

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The Brazilian court handling the case ruled last November that “Catholics for the Right to Decide” must remove the term “Catholic” from its name, as the organization’s goals are incompatible with the values of the Catholic Church. 

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