Catholic Church Responds in Vatican Paper to Brazil Abortion Excommunication

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 13, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Church Responds in Vatican Paper to Brazil Abortion Excommunication

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 13
, 2009

The Vatican ( — The Catholic Church has issued an official response in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano saying its pro-life teachings remain unchanged. The letter came in response to an article about a high-profile case in Brazil concerning an abortion done on a nine-year-old girl who was pregnant with twins.

The girl became pregnant after allegedly being subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather. The abortions took place in March.

The case drew even more international attention when Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho of Olinda and Recife excommunicated the mother and medical staff involved in the abortion.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, responded to some of the criticism of the Catholic Church in an article in March.

At the same he said that the participants in the abortion invited their own excommunication but said that "such urgency and publicity [of it by Archbishop Sobrinho] was not necessary."

The new "clarification" article said it answers "a number of letters have been sent to the Holy See, some of them from prominent figures in political and ecclesiastical life, reporting the confusion that has been created in various countries, above all in Latin America."

The congregation affirms "that the Church’s teaching on procured abortion has not changed, nor can it change," according to a Zenit report and said the pro-life teachings are found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

It said the pro-life teachings were presented delicately in the March article because of the delicate situation involving the young girl.

"In regard to procured abortion in certain difficult and complex situations," the new article said, according to Zenit, "the clear and precise teaching of Pope John Paul II is valid: ‘It is true that the decision to have an abortion is often tragic and painful for the mother, insofar as the decision to rid herself of the fruit of conception is not made for purely selfish reasons or out of convenience, but out of a desire to protect certain important values such as her own health or a decent standard of living for the other members of the family."

"Nevertheless, these reasons and others like them, however serious and tragic, can never justify the deliberate killing of an innocent human being," it added.

Zenit indicates the article concluded with an admonition for Catholic health care workers not to participate in abortions.

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