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Vatican Makes Unusual Statement on Child's Abortion

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A 9-year-old Brazilian girl who was raped by her stepfather underwent an abortion, which was performed by two doctors. This resulted in the excommunication of the girl's mother and the doctors by the local Catholic archbishop. The girl was not excommunicated.

The child, who was pregnant with twins, weighed only 80 pounds. She might have died if she had been forced to carry the pregnancy to term, according to the doctors.

The Vatican's top bioethics official, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, said the two doctors do not deserve to be excommunicated because they tried to save the girl's life. The mother was not mentioned.

Fisichella wrote the following in the official Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano: "There are others who deserve excommunication and our forgiveness," addressing the rape victim, "not those who permitted you to live and who will help you to regain hope and faith."

Fisichella repeated the Catholic teaching that abortion is an "intrinsically wicked act," but that in the case of this child it might have been the lesser of two evils. He recognized this situation was an extremely difficult one for the doctors and for "moral law itself." No apparent mention was made of the agony the mother must have been going through.

In his article, Fisichella accused the Brazilian archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, of having "rushed" to declare the excommunications, when his first task should have been the "pastoral" care of the victim. Fishichella went on to say that Cardoso Sobrinho's action did harm to the "credibility of our teaching, which appears in the eyes of so many as insensitive, incomprehensible and lacking in mercy." The girl's stepfather never faced excommunication.

Add a Comment7 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

What the Church believes is that it is always a grave, horrendous act to kill a child directly-- like through an abortion-- which gives absolutely no chance to the children involved.

In this case, then the young girl pregnant was at a possible life risk, the Church states that all possible methods may be taken to save the girl's life except that which directly kills the babies- an abortion. However, even while protecting the mother, all possible care should be taken to protect the babies as well. If the babies should die indirectly do to necessary medical attention to save the mother, it is very different than directly murdering something.

October 13, 2010 - 11:29pm
EmpowHER Guest

Alright. Few of you commenting on this issue have any knowledge of the theological and legal (Canon Law) principles regarding excommunication and abortion. Here's a primer:

One who performs an abortion - for any reason - is objectively excommunicated for the crime (sin) of murder. This does not require a formal decree from the Church. In this case, the stepfather would objectively be excommunicated for the crime (sin) of rape of a child. Don't get it all muddy - the press has focused on the doctors and mother - this does not lessen the stepfathers guilt.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella is correct in that certain circumstances may mitigate any sin - in this case abortion to save the life of the pregnant child.

Although the Church teaches that abortion is ALWAYS a mortal sin because it takes the life of an innocent human being, it is clear in this case (unless you are some hysterical jerk), that the mother and doctors saved the life of the pregnant girl. Had this girl been older and able to carry the twins to birth, then you would have a more clear cut case of "elective" abortion. Remember, it is not the fault of the twins that they were conceived by rape of a child.

It appears Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho acted like an insensitive jerk. Every organization has a few of these. It should not reflect on what is a sound doctrine.

Now go read Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae, and get yourself informed.

March 28, 2009 - 12:10pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Let's get one thing clear. This child, and that is exactly what she is, no matter the biology or the anatomical and physiological milestones passed in reproductive development, would have died, had she carried those twins to term. Carrying twins to term is a risky pregnancy for grown adult and physically larger women and forcing this 80 lbs child to carry this pregnancy to term would have been tantamount to a sentence of a 6 to nine month long torture followed by execution. While the Vatican may sound magnanimous in reconciling with the doctors, and it is not clear that the doctors have repented, this does not absolve the Vatican and the Catholic Church of the crime of attempted murder of a child. If the Vatican is so keen on punishing the "murder" of children in the form of abortion,(and believe me, I use that term, "murder" very loosely) why does it not take a similar stance and not protect all of its flock? What about the mother who is now needlessly worried about her eternal soul? Cardinals and bishops have a certain leeway in interpretation of Canon Law and matters of theology and this Archbishop could have chosen to handle this vastly differently, and, the Vatican, which is ultimately responsible in matters of Canon Law and Catholic theology could have also chosen to do the right thing and bring justice for a member of its flock before the media firestorm in the form of absolving her, her mother and the doctors, while dealing with the stepfather in whatever way they saw fit.

June 24, 2010 - 12:48pm
EmpowHER Guest

So the doctors don't deserve excommunication, but the mother does?? I don't get that. And, honestly, this is too little, too late. I'm sure this is just a response to all of the backlash in the media.

March 27, 2009 - 11:15pm
(reply to Anonymous)

The doctors were also excommunicated. It is quite amazing however, that the stepfather did not face excommunication.

March 28, 2009 - 11:45am

I have to admit that it's good for the Vatican and one has to give credit where credit is due.

March 27, 2009 - 3:02pm
EmpowHER Guest

Huh. Good for the Vatican, I guess?

March 27, 2009 - 2:06pm
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