Wednesday, 13 July 2011

May Bishop Michael Evans, defender of the unborn, rest in peace

Michael Evans, the Catholic bishop of East Anglia, died earlier this week after a long period with cancer. I wish to put on record my gratitude for Bishop Evans' defence of the unborn when Amnesty International decided to campaign for the decriminalisation of abortion and access to abortion worldwide. Below are some extracts from the statement Bishop Evans issued announcing his decision to leave Amnesty International after 31 years of active membership. May he rest in peace.
"...[O]ur proper indignation regarding pervasive violence against women should not cloud our judgement about our duty to protect the most vulnerable and defenceless form of human life. The International Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989, and became a binding treaty for those countries which ratified it. Its Preamble quotes from the 1959 Declaration on the Rights of the Child, that 'the child, by reason of his or her physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth'. This must surely be part of the body of international human rights law to which Amnesty International is committed.

The Catholic Church shares Amnesty's strong commitment to oppose violence against women (for example, rape, sexual assault and incest), but such appalling violence must not be answered by violence against the most vulnerable and defenceless form of human life in a woman's womb. Catholics would want to show practical compassion for such women, and ensure for them all the medical and spiritual care and support they need. But there is no human right to access to abortion, and Amnesty should not involve itself even in such extreme cases...

To support access to abortion even in dire situations compromises Amnesty's mandate to 'Protect the Human'. In time Amnesty may seek to develop this policy further, but even this current limited decision makes it very difficult for Catholics to remain members of Amnesty or to give it any financial support. Very regretfully, I will be ending my 31 year membership of Amnesty International, which included in the 1980s several years on the British Section Council and its Religious Bodies Liaison Panel...

[Amnesty's] regretable decision will almost certainly divide Amnesty's membership and thereby undermine its vital work. Among all human rights, the right to life is fundamental. Commitment to work to 'Protect the Human' can only be deeply compromised by any support for access to abortion..."
Comments on this blog? Email them to
Sign up for alerts to new blog-posts and/or for SPUC's other email services
Follow SPUC on Twitter
Join SPUC's Facebook group
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy