Catholic Bishops Urge Amnesty International To Restore Its Neutral Position On Abortion

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U.S. bishops have joined persons 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.

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Bishop Skylstad noted the words of Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who recently said that "if in fact Amnesty International persists in this course of action, individuals and Catholic organizations must withdraw their support, because, in deciding to promote abortion rights, AI has betrayed its mission."

Amnesty International was founded by a Catholic layman, Peter Benenson, and has been a beacon of hope to thousands of prisoners of conscience and victims of abuse and torture.

"AI has been a source of inspiration to millions of supporters, including the many Catholics who are members," 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.

"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

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