Catholic lobbyist keynote speaker at Family Planning conference


Jon O’Brien, President of a US lobbyist organisation Catholic for Choice (CFC), was a keynote speaker at the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Conference Aotearoa New Zealand which took place at Te Papa Tongarewa, Te Whanganui-a-Tara on the weekend.

The title of his presentation was “Manufacturing Stigma: How Religious Healthcare Could Damage Your Health”.

In September Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chair of the US bishops’ pro-life committee, said this lobbyist  group “is not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way.

“It has no membership, and clearly does not speak for the faithful. It is funded by powerful private foundations to promote abortion as a method of population control.”

Dolan said “the use of the name ‘Catholic’ as a platform to promote the taking of innocent human life is offensive not only to Catholics, but to all who expect honesty and forthrightness in public discourse.”

O’Brien is a mass-going Catholic born and raised in the Republic of Ireland.

In an interview with Kim Hill on Saturday Morning O’Brien said the Catholic church is a body of believers, “rather than some building in Rome”.

He says it should should be compassionate and committed to social justice, including women’s sexual health.

O’Brien said the bishops were solely representing their own kind.

“And very often their views are downright wrong and dangerous.”

“The reality is the Catholic hierarchy have a very narrow, very conservative view that’s not even shared by other religions so it seems like a craziness to put what they would advocate into law.”

Bishops, like any group, should have an absolute right to free speech, but should not have the right to put their beliefs into law, he says.

“I don’t think that their particular beliefs reflect the best thing for a pluralistic and secular society.”

The CFC website says O’Brien’s involvement in reproductive rights was sparked by his reaction to the great injustices that women especially face as a result of the Catholic hierarchy’s influence over public policy in Ireland.

Listen to inteview with Kim Hill


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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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