[The letter below, from Bishop Michael Pfeifer, OMI, to Mr. Larry Cox of Amnesty International was written in reply to a letter from Amnesty International appealing for financial help.]
Dear Mr. Cox:
You begin your recent letter with “I regret to inform you that we are faced with a severe crisis here at Amnesty International.” Yes, there is indeed a severe crisis at Amnesty International, but not just the one you mention in your letter. The huge crisis that I refer to is not primarily financial, but is of a grave moral nature and of perverting the very mission of Amnesty International. How sad it was to receive the news that recently Amnesty International has made the decision to promote abortion rights, depriving the most vulnerable of humanity the right to life. How sad and tragic! I have always been a supporter of Amnesty International, especially when I served as a missionary priest in Mexico – Oaxaca, Mexico City and other places. And now, sadly, I must let you know that has ended. I always was happy to speak for Amnesty International, but now I must speak and preach against it. Does Amnesty International realize how this decision on abortion has betrayed its own mission?
As you known, Amnesty International was founded in 1961 by Peter Denenzon, a British convert to Catholicism. The Catholic Church around the world has always been a strong supporter of Amnesty International, but now that will end, unless Amnesty changes its position to provide amnesty for the weakest member of society – the unborn. One of the big supporters of Amnesty International, Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan, S.J., stated after learning of Amnesty’s decision: “One cannot support an organization financially or even individually that is contravening something very serious in our ethic.” A couple of months ago the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop William Skylstad, warned Amnesty International: “If Amnesty International were to advocate for abortion as a human right, it would risk diminishing its own well-deserved moral credibility. It certainly would most likely divide its own members, many of whom are Catholics and others who defend the rights of unborn children.”
Amnesty International is betraying itself and foundational documents on which it claims to be based. Amnesty surely claims to accept the preamble of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, one of the United Nations’ foremost human rights documents, which states: “The child – needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”
Amnesty has always reached out to provide a safe haven, protection, and refuge for the marginalized and weak members of human society, but now Amnesty has publicly decided it will no longer provide a safe haven for the tiniest and weakest members of the human family – the precious unborn. And how sad it is to know that Amnesty criticized the recent Supreme Court decision prohibiting Partial Birth Abortion – a brutal procedure that kills the child almost as the child is being born.
While the focus of this letter is on the unborn, the Catholic Church, as you know, has held a consistent ethic of life, insisting on the dignity and sacredness of all human life from conception until natural death as determined by God. The Catholic Church has always offered comfort and support to immigrants, refugees, displaced people, those seeking asylum, those abused and oppressed, and has worked with Amnesty for an end to the death penalty. I personally have taken the stand in letter writing on this issue with Amnesty. How can Amnesty now claim it is against the death of a hardened criminal who is made in the image and likeness of God, if it denies the right to life of a precious, totally innocent unborn child also made in the very image and likeness of God? The Catholic Church has also offered alternative assistance and compassionate service – physical, medical, emotional, spiritual and financial—for pregnant women struggling with the issue of abortion. Our motto is: Choose life for both the mother and the child.
Larry, please ask Amnesty International to reconsider its deadly decision about killing the unborn. If not, Amnesty International will never be the same and will no longer have my support, nor that of the U.S.Catholic Bishops, nor of the Bishops from around the world. We pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit at this crucial time. Please let me hear from you about this important matter.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Michael D. Pfeifer, OMI
Bishop of San Angelo