Australia


THE TIDAL WAVE of schools dropping Amnesty International following the organisation’s decision to adopt a pro-abortion policy continues unabated with the news that 328 Australian Catholic schools will quit AI.

The director of the Catholic Education Office in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Stephen Elder, said his office had made repeated attempts to contact Amnesty over the issue to raise its “serious concerns about the policy”. However, he said efforts to discuss the stance had proved fruitless. This is unsurprising as Amnesty International refused to respond to many members’ queries on the issue over the last couple of years, and some sectors went as far as misleading their members (see previous posts). Now all of the archdiocese’s 328 schools will cut their links with AI in favor of other human rights groups and activities.

Maria Kirkwood, assistant director of religious education and pastoral care in the Melbourne archdiocese, added that a significant number of schools had supported Amnesty programs over many years.

“It’s an organisation we would encourage schools to support, which is why this is so disappointing,” she told the Age newspaper in Australia. “But this particular issue [abortion] is a very significant one for the Catholic Church and it is impossible for the Catholic Church to continue to support Amnesty with a policy of this nature in place.”

A spokesperson for Amnesty International Australia confirmed to the newspaper that a number of schools had already written to the organisation to withdraw membership. As mentioned in a posting yesterday, the organisation faces a potential long-term crisis in supporters; many adult members became involved with Amnesty through their school or church – the establishments that AI’s policy has now rejected.

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THE CATHOLIC Church in Australia has become the latest group to call for Amnesty International to reverse its policy on abortion.

In a statement one of Australia’s most senior Catholic clerics Archbishop Philip Wilson said that AI’s pro-abortion stance was “deeply regrettable” and said that AI had “moved to a concept of human rights founded not upon the good of the human person, but simply upon the autonomy of the individual.”

“Catholic people have had a long association with Amnesty International, going right back to its inception and the two bodies have been closely aligned in their commitment to social justice,” he said.

“However, Amnesty International has now adopted a position, under the misleading term of ‘sexual and reproductive rights’ which is at odds with the Catholic understanding of the dignity of the human person and sexuality. (more…)

A FEW MORE comments about Amnesty International’s decision to adopt a pro-abortion stance. More to come…

“People who support so-called ‘abortion rights’ are probably very pleased and feel they’ve scored another ‘coup’. But I think it is going to leave Amnesty International with a very questionable reputation from now on.” Rev Thomas King, SJ, Professor of Theology, Georgetown University, United States

“AS ABORTION brings about the death of a child before birth, it clearly violates the right of a child to life. What then of the mother and any rights she might claim? The position in relation to children’s rights versus adult rights should be clear and is arguably covered by the paramountcy principle which states that: “the welfare of the child is paramount” and this is enshrined in International, European and UK legislative frameworks, hence the Children Act 1989″Dr Rosemary Keenan, National Board of Catholic Women, England & Wales

“I DO not see how anyone who is committed to equal respect for all human life, whether on religious or philosophical grounds, can remain a member of Amnesty International.” Ray Campbell, director of the Queensland Bioethics Centre, Australia (more…)

BELOW ARE some of the views being posted around the web on Amnesty International’s decision on abortion. More will follow. Also see Consistent Life’s page for more links. It might be worth pointing out that the quotes here come from a variety of sources: Pro-Life sources, Christian sources, Muslim blogs, and blogs with no links to any religious or pro-life group. Amnesty International’s position is made clear in the documents it tried to cover up in April.

“Violence cannot be answered with further violence; murder with murder; for even if the child is unborn, it is still a human person. It has a right to dignity as a human being.” Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as reported by Spero News

“If Amnesty International becomes an organisation which affirms the right to abortion, even under certain circumstances, it is free democratically to do so. But it cannot expect those of us who are just as passionate about the human rights of the unborn child to feel at ease being part of such an organisation.” – Rt Rev Michael Evans as reported in the Times of London

“By its actions Amnesty International has shown that in today’s world what determines a “human right” is based on ideology rather than human dignity.” – John Mallon, Human Life International

“It is a tragedy that AI has adopted abortion as a human right. It has now placed in jeopardy the wonderful work that it has performed.” Right to Life, New Zealand

“I think it sad that Amnesty should get involved with something that simply isn’t in its remit; it will inevitably compromise the good work it does.” Nova et Vetera blog

(more…)

A leading Australian newspaper has accused Amnesty International’s leaders of putting dogmatism over practical necessities at the expense of the developing world and warned that their victory in pushing through the policy would be a Pyrrhic one.

In a stinging editorial, The Age newspaper, one of the few mainstream newspapers to cover the issue, said that AI’s decision to advocate abortion as a human right, while knowing that it would alienate and fracture substantial part of its membership was detrimental to human rights work.

Can Amnesty really afford such a fracturing of its traditional support base? In an era defined by the compromises of realpolitik, it is almost breathtaking in its audacity.

The simple fact is that this move will imperil Amnesty’s activities in Third World countries, where the church is one of the few champions of the oppressed. To adopt a policy that by its very nature will alienate the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics, along with members of other faiths and an unknown number outside the religious apparatus who consider abortion to be morally wrong, is an example of dogmatism overriding practical necessity.

Until now, much of this criticism has been leveled at AI from church groups, politicians and activists. The Age is one of Australia’s most respected newspapers and is the first major newspaper to criticize the organization in such strong terms. But the editorial of the Melbourne based publication went on to repeat warnings rehearsed by many other people, that AI had damaged its brand and risked losing its authority. It continued:

The world clearly needs Amnesty International. To argue it should confine itself to issues that fit uncontroversially under the human rights umbrella is not to deny that women’s rights are human rights. It is to recognise that to undermine a brand that until now has been unique in the respect it holds would fracture its support base and, along with it, its authority among the non-liberal majority of the globe.

If supporters splinter off the monolith that was Amnesty, etiolating its persuasiveness, its reproach – both silent and vocal – to abusers of human rights, any victory against the religious and moral objectors in its ranks will be Pyrrhic indeed.

The Catholic Church in Australia, a strong supporter of Amnesty International in the past, could be about to cut ties with the organization altogether following AI’s adoption of a new policy to advocate abortion.

Many Christians, especially Catholics, are expected to resign from the human rights organization and perhaps establish an alternative human rights organization because of the new policy. Some expect the Church in Australia to cut its ties with Amnesty altogether and the country’s church leaders have met to discuss the issue.

Many of AI’s 2.2 million members and supporters are church-based, including about 72,000 in Australia. Amnesty estimates that 500 Catholic schools in Australia have member groups, as do other Christian schools.

Amnesty’s international executive board adopted the policy last month as part of its campaign to curb violence against women. Previously Amnesty was neutral on abortion.

Fr. Chris Middleton, head of St Aloysius’ College in Sydney, told The Age newspaper that Amnesty’s Australian membership would be deeply hit by this policy decision.

He predicted that Amnesty’s Third World membership would be reduced to a partisan and ideologically exclusive group.

This new policy would also weaken the campaign against capital punishment in the United States by driving a wedge between its two most vocal critics, Amnesty and the Catholic Church, he said.

Amnesty has been criticized for its secrecy regarding this policy change. It had initially announced that it would have an international debate on this policy in Mexico City later this year, but its leadership council went ahead with the policy decision instead and many members of its own staff were left stunned when they heard the news from outside parties.

If the scandal of Amnesty International ignoring the most basic rights to unborn children wasn’t bad enough, the powers that be at AI have caused further outrage by attempting to cover up their decision – even trying to keep it from their staff.

As late as Tuesday afternoon, workers at Amnesty International UK’s headquarters claimed that they believed a decision on the abortion policy had not been taken and would not be taken until later this summer, and indeed were reassuring members of this, apparently blissfully unaware that Amnesty was in fact trying to cover up the fact that it had already made its decision.

So their gas was put at the proverbial peep when it was pointed out to the benighted AIUK employees that documents on Amnesty International USA’s site, uncovered by Consistent Life, completely contradicted what they were saying (see previous post) and these documents made them look, at the very best, sadly uninformed.

So the AIUK staff went off to find out more. At the time of writing this, they still had not managed to give a response to the member in question – that’s almost 48 hours later, but we can assume that there has been some frantic activity, in fact there have been quite a few hits on this blog and its mirror sites from Amnesty International IP addresses over the last 24 hours (perhaps AIUK staff are trying to find out what their bosses have apparently been keeping from them). (more…)

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