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Vatican breaks with Amnesty International on abortion June 14, 2007

The Holy See has broken off an alliance with Amnesty International "after its pro-abortion about-turn," the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has indicated.

In an interview with the National Catholic Register, Cardinal Renato Martino, said that the Holy See is ceasing donations to Amnesty International as a result of the group's public advocacy for abortion. He urged Catholic donors to reconsider gifts to the organization.

The Italian cardinal said that the Vatican's decision was an "inevitable consequence" of the new policy Amnesty has adopted. He said that policy is a betrayal of the original mission of the human-rights organization.

In London, the executive secretary of Amnesty International, Kate Gilmore, insisted that the group "has never promoted abortion." She said that Amnesty favors "states respecting women's reproductive rights, allowing women in certain circumstances to reach their own decisions." She said that Cardinal Martino has misunderstood the purpose of Amnesty's new "Stop Violence Against Women" campaign.

Gilmore also told reporters that Amnesty International has not received “funding from the Catholic Church or from organizations that depend on the Catholic Church.” The organization does, however, receive many donations from individual Catholics.

In his interview with the National Catholic Register, Cardinal Martino recalled that during the Cairo conference on population, the UN member-states reached an agreement that abortion should not be accepted as a means of family planning. He rejected the idea that legal abortion should be included under the heading of "reproductive rights."

However, the cardinal-- who served for years as the Vatican's representative at the UN-- observed that proponents of legal abortion have waged an aggressive campaign for legal acceptance./ "The abortion lobby is continuing its propaganda," he noted.

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