Scottish Cardinal leaves Amnesty International

Says Decision Is Matter of Conscience

EDINBURGH, Scotland, AUG. 28, 2007 -- As a matter of conscience, and with great sadness, Cardinal Keith O'Brien announced his intention to resign from Amnesty International in protest of the organization's policy supporting abortion.

The archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh communicated his decision today in a letter sent to the director of human rights organization in Scotland.

In the statement he explained, "The recent decision by the International Council of Amnesty International to 'support the decriminalization of abortion and to defend women's access to abortion' has forced me to reconsider my membership of this noble organisation."

"Having first joined as a student and supported it over many decades," the 69-year-old cardinal wrote, "as a matter of conscience and with great sadness I have decided to resign from Amnesty International."

He explained: "Throughout my priestly ministry and more recently as archbishop and cardinal I have shown my desire along with my Church to defend life in all its aspects."

"Along with the bishops of Scotland in 2001 in guidance ahead of the Scottish elections we stressed the commitment of the Catholic Church to life but we wanted to be clear what that meant."

"It was not something narrow but something wide and all encompassing. And we said then that: 'We believe in a consistent ethic of life. We are pro-life in the fullest sense of that term.'"

Support life

Cardinal O'Brien affirmed: "With regard to abortion I have now had to examine my own conscience, realizing that Amnesty International was approving proposals in support of abortion."

"Sadly now Amnesty International seems to be placing itself at the forefront of a campaign for a universal 'right' to abortion in contravention to that basic right to human life."

The cardinal encouraged those who withdraw membership from Amnesty International to offer contributions previously destined for that group to other organizations "that do indeed support the right to life of each and every human being wherever conceived and in whatsoever part of the world, and to help women who have suffered violence at the hands of others, particularly those who have endured rape."

"We are all members of the one human family," Cardinal O'Brien concluded, "and we must defend unborn children in our family however conceived, they may be seen as unwanted or inconvenient, but they have from the moment of conception, been given the gift of life by Almighty God."

Copyright 2007, Innovative Media, Inc. Posted with permission from


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