Religion and Spirituality

Vatican Tells Catholics to End Aid to Amnesty

June 26, 2007 06:28 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
In response to a statement by Amnesty International supporting the right to abortion for women who've suffered rape or incest, the Vatican has called on Catholics worldwide to stop donating money to the organization.

30-Second Summary

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The Catholic Church believes that all human life is sacred, and that the sanctity begins at the moment of conception. So when Amnesty International announced its support of legal access to abortion for victims of rape, incest, and violence, or when the mother's health is at risk, the Vatican denounced the group for promoting abortion.

Since the announcement, the Vatican has officially requested that all Catholic groups, nongovernmental organizations, parishes, schools, and individuals stop donating money to the group.

Amnesty has defended its position, saying that it neither advocates for abortion as a universal right nor takes any moral position on the procedure.

However, the president of the Roman Catholic Church's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace Cardinal Renato Martino maintains that the group's policy change (Amnesty's original stance spoke out against forced abortions), "has betrayed its mission to promote and protect human rights."

This isn't the first time the Vatican has outspokenly denounced a humanitarian group for its position on abortion. In 1996, the Vatican withdrew funding from UNICEF after it learned that the group had distributed contraceptive pills to rape victims during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The controversy highlights an increasing overlap between the moral codices of the Church and the arena of political debate, a phenomenon that has gained special attention in the United States. In May, Pope Benedict XVI said that all Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be banned from taking communion, sparking debates all over the country as to whether the Church should be so explicitly political.

Headline Links: The call to boycott and Amnesty's response

Background: Amnesty talks about new position

Reactions: Activist Priest Berrigan descries move, Amnesty defends position

Opinions: The abortion debate

Historical Context: Vatican boycotted UNICEF for issuing contraceptive

Reference Material: Amnesty's stance and the Vatican

Related Topics: Pope says pro-choice politicians shouldn't take Communion

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