Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Mission Betrayed

FRIARS CORNER:

Mission Betrayed

Sometimes in our world, which seems so wrought with injustice, an organization comes along that truly stands up for the “little guy” and for all of the horrors around us, giving even the smallest voice a hearing on the world stage. This is how I always felt about Amnesty International. AI was begun in 1961 and in the 40 plus years since then has had a global mission to be an advocate for all of the voiceless in our world. In that time, they have had a stellar record of advocating for prisoners of war, people held down by all kinds of oppression – whether at the hands of unjust leaders or societies, or the wages of poverty and illness throughout the world.

And so, it is with a very disappointed and heavy heart that I have now come to the conclusion that I can no longer support this once great organization. AI’s own mission statement says, “Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights. AI’s vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.”

In April, AI amended the “human rights” they are working for by declaring that they would now work for “women’s human rights to be free of fear, threat and coercion as they manage all consequences of rape and other grave human rights violations.” That sounds good on the surface, but the consequence of this stand is that they are now working for the so-called “right” to freely and easily contract an abortion.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has said that with its new stance supporting the legalization of abortion around the world, Amnesty International “has betrayed its mission.”

These sentiments have also been echoed by Fr. Daniel Berrigan, S.J., an iconic figure in pacifist and human rights circles, repudiating the new Amnesty position. “One cannot support an organization financially or even individually that is contravening something very serious in our ethic,” the priest said. Cardinal Martino said, “I believe 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, A.I. has betrayed its mission.” Amnesty International, a widely respected human rights organization, had been officially neutral on abortion until this April, when its executive committee adopted a new position.

Sadly, unless they change this position, I can no longer support them. If you have supported them in the past, I encourage you to do the same. Write to AI, as I have, and ask them to change their position on this critical human right – the right of every unborn child to exist. Ask them to instead champion the rights of one of the largest groups ever to be denied basic human rights – the millions of unborn who are killed each year through abortion. Perhaps they will heed our voices and again become the champion of all those denied basic human rights.

Love, Fr. Tom

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