THE US CONFERENCE of Catholic Bishops has responded to Amnesty International’s recently-adopted abortion policy by warning AI that the Bishops would be looking to work with other human rights groups. The Conference also calls for AI to reverse the policy.

The President of the Conference, Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane said in a statement:

“This basic policy change undermines Amnesty’s longstanding moral credibility and unnecessarily diverts its mission. In promoting abortion, Amnesty divides its own members (many of whom are Catholics and others who defend the rights of unborn children) and jeopardizes its support by people in many nations, cultures and religions..”

He continues: To some, the action of Amnesty International may appear to be a compassionate response to women in difficult situations of pregnancy, but this is a false compassion. True commitment to women’s rights puts us in solidarity with women and their unborn children. It does not pit one gainst the other but calls us to advocate on behalf of both.”

The full text of the Bishops’ Statement follows below.

A Statement of the President of the United States Conference
of Catholic Bishops
Bishop William S. Skylstad, Bishop of Spokane
August 23, 2007

After nearly a year of dialogue with leaders of Amnesty International AI), the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops strongly protests the recent action of AI’s International Council to promote worldwide access to abortion. This basic policy change undermines Amnesty’s longstanding moral credibility and unnecessarily diverts its mission. In promoting abortion, Amnesty divides its own members (many of whom are Catholics and thers who defend the rights of unborn children) and jeopardizes its support by people in many nations, cultures and religions who share a consistent commitment to all human rights.

Amnesty International’s action will lead many people of conscience to seek alternative means to end grave human rights abuses, fight injustice, and promote freedom of conscience and expression. The essential work of protecting human life and promoting human dignity must carry on. We must continue to oppose the use of the death penalty and the crushing effects of dehumanizing poverty. We must continue to stand with prisoners of conscience, refugees and migrants, and other oppressed peoples. But we will seek to do so in authentic ways, working most closely with organizations who do not oppose the fundamental right to life from conception to natural death.

To some, the action of Amnesty International may appear to be a compassionate response to women in difficult situations of pregnancy, but this is a false compassion. True commitment to women’s rights puts us in solidarity with women and their unborn children. It does not pit one against the other but calls us to advocate on behalf of both. As our Conference has argued, 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 women. The Catholic Church provides these services to many women around the world and will continue to do so.

We call upon Amnesty International once again to act in accord with its noblest principles, reconsider its error, and reverse its policy on abortion.

Picture: The photograph is of Bishop William Skylstad from www.dioceseofspokane.org

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