Cardinal Renato Martino told the National Catholic Register that the recent decision by the human rights group to promote abortion "rights" is a betrayal of its identity.
"By pushing for the decriminalization of abortion as part of their platform, Amnesty International has disqualified itself as a defender of human rights," he said. "If AI is no longer willing to stand up for the most basic human right -- the right to life -- then the very integrity of the organization is called into question."
Amnesty International was founded in 1961 by Peter Benenson as a defender and promoter of the inalienable rights of the human person.
Now it has joined other international organizations, such as the United Nations Children's Fund, in promoting a so-called right to abortion, at least in certain cases.
Culture of death
Cardinal Martino, who served as the Holy See's permanent observer at the United Nations, says that this change of position is part of the "pro-death" agenda in the culture.
"The pro-death agenda […] is cloaked in human rights language, but in reality it undermines the very human rights it portends to support," Cardinal Martino said. "Its logical conclusion is the destruction of life and all of the life-giving values that we as a human family and as a society should be grateful for. De-sensitizing the culture to the evil of abortion is part and parcel of the pro-abortion lobby."
However, the 74-year-old cardinal recognized that pro-choice organizations have not succeeded in establishing an "internationally recognized human right" to abortion.
"I was head of the Holy See delegation to the Cairo Conference on Population and Development when that issue was settled definitively," Cardinal Martino stated. "Paragraph 8.25 of the Cairo Declaration clearly states, 'In no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning … and every attempt should be made to eliminate the need for abortion."
The cardinal said that Amnesty International's decision means Catholics and Catholic organizations should no longer financially support the group.
"The very promotion of abortion opens the door to the slippery slope of evil and death, where human rights are taken away from the most innocent and vulnerable children of God," he said. "I believe that, if in fact Amnesty International persists in this course of action, individuals and Catholic organizations must withdraw their support."