LEADERS of Catholic aid and health agencies in Australia have denounced the Federal Government’s overturning of rules that ban overseas aid funding being used for abortions.
Caritas Australia chief executive officer Jack de Groot has told The Catholic Leader he has written to Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith asking for a meeting to discuss how these changes would impact on the Catholic aid agency’s work overseas.
Mr Smith, himself a Catholic, on Tuesday announced the change to support family planning programs which included abortion, after a Government review and pressure from both Labor and Coalition MPs.
“Obviously Caritas as part of the Catholic Church is committed to upholding and protecting the dignity of all human life,” Mr de Groot said.
“The use of Australian overseas aid money for this purpose runs counter to the Church’s teaching.”
Catholic Health Australia’s chief executive officer Martin Laverty said the organisation took a “deep and informed interest in the issue as many staff in Australian Catholic hospitals were also involved at times in overseas aid work”.
“The CHA told the Australian Government before it commenced the review that international aid should be directed to the area of greatest need and practical response,” Mr Laverty said.
“This involved dealing with broad public health issues such as sanitation and a safe water supply.
“We don’t believe the provision of funds for abortion will contribute to the areas of greatest need in these countries.”
Mr de Groot, whose agency receives about 18 per cent of its funds from the Federal Government, also noted that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had indicated he was not personally in support of the policy change on the day it was announced.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
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