Sunday, 17 June 2007

The Cardinal vs Amnesty International

I owe His Eminence a huge "thank you".

Thursday, I saw this story in the Guardian, and put my head in my hands over the Vatican. Again.

"A senior Vatican cardinal said yesterday that Catholics should stop donating to human rights group Amnesty International because of its new policy advocating abortion rights for women if they had been raped, were a victim of incest or faced health risks."

This isn't a pro-choice move. It's about what happens to women in the areas that Amnesty International works. What if it had been his mother, his sister, his niece who had been raped? Certainly the Church would support it in the LAST instance, if only because of 'double jeopardy' (*cringe*), and most priests would understand and forgive it in the first two instances.

One of the things that fascinated me about this was the Catholic journalism. Time and again, the Church whinges on about how the secular media 'misrepresents' them. To save you the trouble of trolling through it, with the exception of The Tablet, most Catholic journalism is rich in hysterical hand-wringing and tabloid reporting and poor on real facts and genuine, thoughtful analysis. Catholic News printed this about the Amnesty International debate:

"With its new stance supporting the legalization of abortion around the world, Amnesty International "has betrayed its mission," said Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in an e-mail interview with the
National Catholic Register."

Go on, tell it like it is, Catholic journalists. Be that beacon of shining journalism the BBC, Washington Post and New York Times aren't, just telling us the facts and not sensationalising it at all, won't you? In fact, Martino himself can help you along...

Cardinal Martino said that by its new policy Amnesty International "has betrayed all of its faithful supporters throughout the years, both individuals and organizations, who have trusted AI for its integral mission of promoting and protecting human rights."

Let me get this straight: supporting abortion as an option for a woman who has been raped, the victim of incest or whose health is in danger qualifies as decriminalising abortion and *betraying* the Catholic Church and men like Daniel Berrigan who SUPPORTED Roe v Wade? If we want to discuss the meaning of betrayal, I have a few words for you, Cardinal Martino: paedophile priests, cover up, Bernard Law.

Something is rotten in the Vatican city-state. This smells like an excuse for something else, and I think Mick Arran has put his finger on it:

This is payback for all the grief AI has given the Church over its either outright support of dictatorial regimes as long as they left Catholics alone, or its quiescence in the face of massive human rights violations in Catholic countries, especially in the Americas.

Ah. Yes. That may be speculation, but it fits the rabid reaction of Cardinal Martino far better than a simple, explainable shift of AI towards allowing abortions for women in those few cases. Having watched the Vatican's behaviour with some interest over the last decade or so, it's plausible. The drive against communism, the chirping up against human right violations have only happened when the Church was unable to function in those countries. It never had anything to do with global human rights or human suffering, except through exceptional individuals like Denis Hurley or Oscar Romero. Not once.

No one has done more for human rights around the world regardless of colour, religion, nationality than AI. That means it has done more of Christ's work than our esteemed Cardinal, who spends his life living opulently and sitting on his ass bullying people to fall into line.

A little time in Darfur might not hurt him any.

""The inevitable consequence of this decision," according to the cardinal, "will be the suspension of any financing to Amnesty on the part of Catholic organisations and also individual Catholics,""

That is what I need to thank him for, because I had to decide what I really believe. Finally, after years of twisting my integrity to try to assimilate ridiculous pronouncements from the Vatican, my integrity snapped back. It was time to take a stand.

I joined Amnesty International.


llwyfen said...

thank you for saying exactly what i think! if i wasn't already a member i'd join too. maybe i should up my donation and down my offertory...

Rose said...

I haven't been 'round your way in a while, so I'm catching up. I must say a big "Thanks" for this. Hadn't heard about this story and I find it fascinating. I really appreciate your take on it as well.