Rift between Amnesty International and Catholic Church continues to widen


The row between Amnesty International (AI) and the Church over the group’s newly declared support for limited abortion is continuing to escalate as the bishops of Ireland contemplate banning the organization from the nation’s Catholic schools. Already one school has been instructed to disband their chapter of Amnesty and more may follow suit. 

A church spokesman provided more details on the latest Amnesty eviction, "An inquiry did come from a school principal, on behalf of the teacher who is in charge of the school Amnesty group, asking for guidance on the future of the Amnesty group in the school. The advice to the school is that it would be inappropriate for the school branch to continue in existence in the context of Amnesty International's new position regarding abortion," reported The Guardian.

The decision to close down the AI chapter at the Greater Belfast school may be a sign of things to come. The Irish Bishops’ Conference will hold their general conference next month and among the topics to be discussed will be the import of Amnesty’s new policy in light of “the sacredness and protection of all human life”, said the church spokesman.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty's Northern Ireland programme director, said he was still "hopeful" that the Amnesty school groups would not be affected by the growing rift with the Catholic Church. "Amnesty International and the Catholic Church have more in common than that which divides us, namely the issue of sexual and reproductive rights."

As previously reported by CNA, Amnesty International has remained unmoved by the widespread condemnation from all parts of the Catholic world.

The most recent condemnation came yesterday when the head of the Italian Bishop’s Conference Angelo Bagnasco said that the new pro-abortion policy was an “astounding inclusion, among recognized human rights, of the choice of abortion, even though only in the case of violence against women." He also slammed the human rights group saying, "These are departures that warn us further of the dangerous erosion afflicting human conscience".

Other notable prelates who have criticized the AI for its pro-abortion decision are Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the head of the Church in Scotland; Bishop Michael Evans, a founding member of the group; and Archbishop Philip Wilson, the head of the Australian Bishops’ Conference.

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