‘Nasty’ LifeSite allegations are harmful to Mexican group's cause

  • May 21, 2010

Jesuit Father Luis Arriaga

TORONTO - Allegations that a Mexican human rights organization either endorsed or helped efforts pushing for expanded access to legal abortion were never true, its director has told The Catholic Register.

Last March LifeSiteNews.com alleged that the Jesuit-founded Centro Pro Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez and four other human rights organizations that receive funding from the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace were signatories to a report calling for legal abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy throughout Mexico. Currently, first trimester abortions are only legal in Mexico City.

A subsequent investigation by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops cleared Development and Peace of the charge of funding abortion advocacy, but said the Mexican NGOs were “imprudent” in signing the omnibus joint report to the United Nations on Mexican human rights.

However, the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Centre neither signed nor endorsed the report, said Jesuit Father Luis Arriaga, its director. The centre was simply named on the last page as one of 65 organizations that contributed to the report.

The Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez contribution was limited to its areas of expertise — the criminal justice system, citizen security and economic and cultural rights, said Arriaga in a mid-May interview with The Register while he was in Toronto.

“We’re not focussed on sexual or reproductive rights. This is not our speciality,” he said. “Our focus is on the defence and promotion of civil and political rights.”

Though the centre was founded by Jesuits and is named after a Jesuit martyr whose cause for sainthood is before the Vatican, the centre itself is not a religious organization. As a non-governmental organization, the centre participated with other NGOs in producing the report for the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“Among 65 NGOs, we did some part of this final report,” said Arriaga. “But the item about sexual and reproductive rights was drafted by NGOs that work in those kinds of items.”

The centre continues to have a positive relationship with Mexico’s bishops’ conference, said Arriaga, who is on the advisory board of the Episcopal Commission for Social Ministry.

Involving Mexican organizations in a Canadian controversy over abortion is unhelpful to the cause of social justice, said Arriaga.

“It’s nasty to focus on those kinds of items if we live in a country where half the population lives in poverty,” he said.

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