Catholic leaders have denounced Amnesty International following the organization’s adoption of a new policy in support of limited abortion rights. Founded in 1961 by Peter Benenson, a British Catholic convert, Amnesty had previously remained neutral on abortion. The new policy, which was a product of two years of deliberation and member input, supports abortion rights in cases of sexual violence or when a woman’s life is in danger. Amnesty’s new policy was motivated by the use of mass rape as a weapon of war as in Darfur and other conflicts.
Condemning the new policy, Michael Evans, a senior Catholic bishop in Britain and a 31-year member of Amnesty, “urged all Catholics to stop donating” to the group, reported BBC News. In a Vatican statement, Cardinal Renato Martino said that the Vatican would no longer provide funding for Amnesty, even though Amnesty’s Deputy General Secretary Kate Gilmore stated that the group has “not accepted funds from the Vatican and [does] not accept funds from any state in support of [their] work against human rights violations.”
In response to the statements by Catholic leaders, Gilmore further stated, “Our policy reflects our obligation of solidarity as a human rights movement with, for example, the rape survivor in Darfur who, because she is left pregnant as a result of the enemy, is further ostracized by her community. Ours is a movement dedicated to upholding human rights, not specific theologies. Our purpose invokes the law and the state, not God,” the Independent reports.