« It's Amazing how Suddenly Things can Change | Main | One shot »


More is going on in the brouhaha over the excommunications that took place in the aftermath of a 9-year-old Brazilian girl's abortion.

An influential prelate said Brazilian doctors didn't deserve excommunication for aborting the twin fetuses of a 9-year-old child who was allegedly raped by her stepfather because the doctors were saving her life.

The statement by Archbishop Rino Fisichella in the Vatican newspaper Sunday was highly unusual because church law mandates automatic excommunication for abortion. Fisichella, who heads the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life, also upheld the church's ban on abortion and any implications of his criticism of excommunicating the doctors and the girl's mother weren't clear.

Fisichella argued for a sense of "mercy" in such cases and respect for the Catholic doctors' wrenching decision, and strongly criticized fellow churchmen who singled out the doctors and mother for public condemnation.

"Before thinking about excommunication, it was necessary and urgent to save her innocent life and bring her back to a level of humanity of which we men of the church should be expert and masters in proclaiming," Fisichella wrote.

Let me first thank Wizbang contributor Seth for bringing this news to my attention.

I've done an internet search for the article in question. What I found is here. Articles published this week haven't been put on the web yet. When Archbishop Rino Fisichella's article is made available, I'll post it.

Archbishop Fisichella is right. There was a lack of mercy shown to the rape victim. First assaulted by her stepfather, made pregnant, having to undergo, then to top it off have her mother excommunicated because she wanted to save her life. I along along thought that the best course of action by Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho would have been to stay silent, or excommunicate the stepfather also. Ultimately God is going to rule whether the abortion was right or not.

But Fisichella criticized the archbishop's public denunciation, writing that the girl "should have been above all defended, embraced, treated with sweetness to make her feel that we were all on her side, all of us, without distinction."

Fisichella stressed that abortion is always "bad." But he said the quick proclamation of excommunication "unfortunately hurts the credibility of our teaching, which appears in the eyes of many as insensitive, incomprehensible and lacking mercy."

Archbishop Sobrinho's utter lack of mercy hurt the Roman Catholic church in the country with the biggest Catholic population in the world. It will be interesting to see if he backs down from what he said.

In addition to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, two French bishops have voiced their disagreement with the actions of the Brazilian bishop. More important than that is this reaction coming out of Brazil.

Brazil's Catholic bishops conference denied that the archbishop of Recife and Olinda, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, excommunicated the mother and doctors who practiced a legal abortion on a 9-year-old girl that was pregnant with twins after being raped by her stepfather.

The secretary general of the bishops conference, Dimas Lara Barbosa, said that the prelate "at no time excommunicated anyone."

The case won notoriety and sparked a controversy between Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who defended the medical position of saving the girl's life because of her pelvic incapacity to continue with the high-risk pregnancy, and the Catholic hierarchy, backed by the Vatican.

"People who consciously work to stop a birth are placing themselves outside the communion of the church, because they no longer share the Christian philosophy, which is in defense of life," Lara said. "We don't know who does or does not have this act on his conscience."

The president of the bishops conference, Cardinal Geraldo Lyrio Rocha, commented that "excommunication is not synonymous with condemnation to hell. I say that because in the popular imagination, when someone was excommunicated it seemed he was being sent to hell." EFE

No excommunication happened. You can take that as a public rebuke of Sobrinho's actions or some damage control being done by the Roman Catholic church in Brazil. I think its a little of both but mostly a slap in the face for a Archbishop who went too far. The Brazilian Bishops conference acted correctly. Its time for the wounds to heal that were created by a few very foolish people.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments (19)

Umm, Bill?What abo... (Below threshold)

Umm, Bill?

What about the children?

Wasn't the archbishop trying to save THEIR lives?

Or do they just not matter to you?

Bill, we get it. You hate t... (Below threshold)

Bill, we get it. You hate the Catholic Church. Move on. Please. I come to Wizbang basically for politics. Not to witness church hate. ww

/em cues the Catholic churc... (Below threshold)
retired military:

/em cues the Catholic church bashing from the pro abortion folks who would rather kill a million innocent children a year than think it is wrong.

Wasn't the archbishop tr... (Below threshold)

Wasn't the archbishop trying to save THEIR lives?

Nope, he was punishing people for what he perceived to be a crime against humanity. This distinction bears enough weight that it's worth pointing out, in that he did not feel that the initial crime--raping a 9 year old girl--deserved the same punishment. Apparently God's law applies to the murder of the unborn (to use the vocabulary of the Church), but not to the rape of children.

Sorry, but it's reasonable to be upset enough by this clergyman's actions and values that one might even--SHOCK! HORROR OF HORRORS!--mention it several times on a blog.

Don't like criticism of the Catholic Church? Then you would probably find yourself at home in 14th century Europe. And we all know how much fun that was.

Wrong again Hyper. I am not... (Below threshold)

Wrong again Hyper. I am not Catholic, but I certainly know when someone is grinding an ax. If Bill has an ax to grind, I suggest he do it on the appropriate blog. Say Anti Catholics, etc. It is old. ww

I don't think this post of ... (Below threshold)

I don't think this post of Bill's was meant to bash the Catholic Church. Many of us were critisizing his earlier poats on this matter because we thought that perhaps he was taking the intemperate actions of one Bishop and using those to condemn the Church as a whole. A shown in this article there are clergy on both sides of this issue but it should be noted that none of them are saying that abortion is correct and most of the controversy seems to be over this one Bishop's hasty anouncements of excommunication.
Besides if Bill was a true hater of the Church he could have cut and run without posting these new articles which do not show the Church to be an intemperate bunch of bitter prelates. I applaud him for showing both sides of the issue.
Now how about we get back to talking poltics:
Are the last few days of stock growth indicative of a recovery? Or should we take Obama at his word and ignore the fluctuations in the market?

Bernard Law resigns as Arch... (Below threshold)

Bernard Law resigns as Arch-Bishop of Boston and is promptly recruited for the Pontifical Council For the Family at the Holy See at Rome.

"Beleive It or Not!"

I say cue the anti catholic... (Below threshold)
retired military:

I say cue the anti catholic comments and Hyper shows up and shoots off his mouth.

Yes rape is very bad. Rape is not murder. Child rape is worse than raping an adult. Child rape is not murder. Rape is not the equivalent of murder.

I find it strange that Hyper is here talking about excommunicating someone for rape when he condones doctors killing newborns under certain circumstances. But Hyper is a liberal and that being said logic is thrown out the window.

And yet again the paper didnt say anything about if the girl wanted to keep the babies. Yes she is 9, but the liberals always hype about the girls wishes and they arent known or havent been reported. If she had wanted to keep the babies than the libs would have been shaking their heads saying she isnt old enough to make a decision but if she had wanted an abortion they would be harping about a woman's right to choose.

Abortion is wrong no matter what the circumstances. The youngest mother on record was 5 years old when she gave birth. Abhorent yes but not as abhorent as a 5 year old getting an abortion. The doctor, from what I have seen, simply said that she would have had troubles with the pregnancy and it may have endangered her life had she carried to term. Nothing more specific. There are high risk pregnancies carried to term all the time. I am not trying to sound flip but Bill's wife's pregnancy was high risk and it was carried to term.
The youngest mother of twins was 14 at time of birth. So this case would have been extreme but as I have said before 2 wrongs dont make a right.

The Catholic Church does not excommunicate (to my knowledge) for rape specifically.

"Apparently God's law applies to the murder of the unborn (to use the vocabulary of the Church), but not to the rape of children."

Actually Hyper has stated in the past

"If you want to view unborn babies as persons--and there are very good reasons to do so"

So even he feels there are very good reasons to view unborn babies as people. He also feels that is perfeclty okay to murder them.

Bill"Its time for ... (Below threshold)
retired military:


"Its time for the wounds to heal that were created by a few very foolish people. "

Sounds like some very good advice. I pray you take it.

Did I miss the part where t... (Below threshold)

Did I miss the part where the archbishop endorsed child rape?

Perhaps one of the anti-Catholic bigots could provide that link.

Regardless of the fact that the child was raped, her unborn children did not commit the crime. So how precisely does giving them the death penalty punish the rapist or unrape the child?

Isn't there enough evil already in this situation without adding to it?

Or do you think that the 9 yr old will be one of those sick women wearing their "I had an abortion" t-shirts one day?

Oh, and one more time for t... (Below threshold)

Oh, and one more time for those ignorant of Catholicism: per Canon Law, those who deliberately procure an abortion---such as the girl's mother, as well as the abortionist---are AUTOMATICALLY excommunicated by the very act of the abortion.

Again, anybody who wants to know the facts need only reference the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

One of these days Jempty might actually resort to doing a simple search there vs. spouting off ignorant nonsense here.

One day.

Teflon,Did you bot... (Below threshold)


Did you bother reading at all what the Brazilian bishops said above or are you.....

Don't like something, attack the messenger. You're really pathetic. Why aren't you attacking the brazilian bishops now?

It isn't automatic either. ... (Below threshold)

It isn't automatic either. Section 1324 of Canon Law-

Can. 1324 ß1 The perpetrator of a violation is not exempted from penalty, but the penalty prescribed in the law or precept must be diminished, or a penance substituted in its place, if the offence was committed by:

1ƒ one who had only an imperfect use of reason;

2ƒ one who was lacking the use of reason because of culpable drunkenness or other mental disturbance of a similar kind;

3ƒ one who acted in the heat of passion which, while serious, nevertheless did not precede or hinder all mental deliberation and consent of the will, provided that the passion itself had not been deliberately stimulated or nourished

4ƒ a minor who has completed the sixteenth year of age;

5ƒ one who was compelled by grave fear, even if only relative, or by reason of necessity or grave inconvenience, if the act is intrinsically evil or tends to be harmful to souls;

6ƒ one who acted in lawful self-defense or defense of another against an unjust aggressor, but did not observe due moderation;

7ƒ one who acted against another person who was gravely and unjustly provocative;

8ƒ one who erroneously, but culpably, thought that some one of the circumstances existed which are mentioned in Can. 1323, nn. 4 or 5;

9ƒ one who through no personal fault was unaware that a penalty was attached to the law or precept;

10ƒ one who acted without full imputability, provided it remained grave.

ß2 A judge can do the same if there is any other circumstance present which would reduce the gravity of the offence.

ß3 In the circumstances mentioned in ß1, the offender is not bound by a latae sententiae penalty.


Now who didn't do their research? Pathetic.

And since Jempty et al were... (Below threshold)

And since Jempty et al were too lazy to look up the previous links correcting their errors regarding Catholic teaching and practice, here's the relevant passage from the Catechism:

"2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae," "by the very commission of the offense," and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society."

"Latae sententiae" means that no additional Church action is required---the moment of abortion is the moment the procurers of abortion are excommunicated. Presenting themselves for the sacraments of the Church following the act merely compounds the sin.

So once again we have Bill Jempty criticizing an archbishop for following the teachings of the Church.

Once again he shows no concern whatsoever for the most innocent victims of all---the unborn children.

If the Lord takes me tomorrow, I won't be able to say I deserved more time. I won't be able to say I lived a sinless life. I won't be able to say I never wronged anybody in my life.

The children butchered in the abortionist's abattoir can make all of these claims, for what sin have they committed? What lives have they been allowed to lead?

Their existence was simply inconvenient and thus was snuffed out.

Anyone who advocates such barbarity---anyone utterly indifferent to such injustice and such cruelty---as inflicted upon these innocent children simply has no moral standing. Where is morality where conscience is not? If your conscience isn't pricked by abortion, by God, what will it take to resurrect such a dead thing as that moribund conscience is?

No point trying to debate s... (Below threshold)

No point trying to debate someone who starts from the perspective that abortion is morally equivalent to murder, even in the case where the mother would almost certainly die were she to carry her unborn twins to term.

Nobody likes abortion. Some people also don't like deciding what women can and can't do with their uteruses. It's a pretty safe bet that someone as tone deaf on this issue as Teflon or retired military would struggle in a contemporary applied ethics or bioethics course, except maybe if Liberty University were to offer it. There are plenty of reasons why abortion is not a type of murder in the eyes of the law, and--on a related note--plenty of reasons why divine command theorists make really shitty jurists.

Yes, we Catholics LOVE Libe... (Below threshold)

Yes, we Catholics LOVE Liberty University.

"Would almost certainly die were she to carry her unborn twins to term."

Really? Is that what the doctors said?

Let's say that were absolutely true. Forget C-sections, forget the ability to deliver children prematurely, and other methods of reducing the risk of high-risk pregancy.

Were that true---your life, or your baby's life---what is the proper answer?

My wife and I had that discussion prior to my son's birth. Her answer was "the baby". Was she mistaken? Was she misguided?

Perhaps the inestimable Mr Jempty could provide us the situations where the Church has driven out the woman who, given such a choice, chose herself.

Charity being one of the cardinal virtues, such an act would certainly seem incongruous.

Here's how abortion and excommunication are usually handled:


Feel free to toss rocks at it as you like.

HyperNice try in t... (Below threshold)
retired military:


Nice try in trying to deflect something onto me.

a. I am not the person who said that it may be acceptable in some cases for a doctor to kill a newborn.

b. I am not the one changes their arguments due to the fact that I have been shown to be illogical at best in the past.

c. "No point trying to debate someone who starts from the perspective that abortion is morally equivalent to murder"

""If you want to view unborn babies as persons--and there are very good reasons to do so""

Both the above statements made by Hyper

I am not the one who says there is a good argument to consider an unborn child a person and then contend that abortion should be something that any female can have regardless of any circumstances other than her wishes.

d. "It's a pretty safe bet that someone as tone deaf on this issue as Teflon or retired military would struggle in a contemporary applied ethics or bioethics course"

I have no problem with saying murder of an unborn child is murder. Period.

e. "There are plenty of reasons why abortion is not a type of murder in the eyes of the law, and--on a related note--plenty of reasons why divine command theorists make really shitty jurists.

Really Hyper, got any links on the last part of that statement or just another statement pulled out of your ass.

As for the first part, thanks to liberals in power who pander to the hardcore feminists this is partially true. Thankfully there are some laws on the books which protect unborn children. No thanks to your ilk.

What is excommunication? I... (Below threshold)

What is excommunication? I don't ask that out of ignorance. Rather I ask that out of curiosity of what regular people believe it to mean. We all sin. Period. No argument or discussion necessary. God is God. The church is the church. The Church represents (or attempts to represent) God's POV. However, we are not called to strictly adhere to the church's rules. We are called to listen to the word of God. The Church exists to help us find the path. Excommunication (to me) equals separation from the church. My soul heads to Heaven or not based on my relationship with God not my relationship with my local parish. My local parish exists to help us develop our relationship with God and each other.

Largebill is quite correct,... (Below threshold)

Largebill is quite correct, and there is clearly confusion over what excommunication means.

Here is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines it:

1463 Certain particularly grave sins incur excommunication, the most severe ecclesiastical penalty, which impedes the reception of the sacraments and the exercise of certain ecclesiastical acts, and for which absolution consequently cannot be granted, according to canon law, except by the Pope, the bishop of the place or priests authorized by them. In danger of death any priest, even if deprived of faculties for hearing confessions, can absolve from every sin and excommunication.

The normal way to obtain absolution for mortal sin is through the sacrament of penance and reconciliation. If one however commits certain grievous sins---procuring abortion is one of these---additional measures are required to be absolved and restored to the Church. The process still begins in the Confessional, but may involve meeting with your bishop as well.

Mortal sin results in a smaller type of excommunication---we cannot receive the Eucharist (as St Paul noted, we must not approach the Eucharist unworthily lest we eat and drink damnation). The other sacraments of the Church remain open to us, but we are not allowed to take part in the most important sacrament. We must go to Confession and be absolved of our mortal sin in order to resume taking part in the Eucharist.

In the case of excommunication, the sacraments of the Church are barred to us. The doors have closed. We are being treated, per Christ's command, as "a heathen man and publican"---purposely placed outside the Body of Christ that we may see the error of our ways and return one day as prodigal sons.

Some offenses---such as procuring an abortion or striking a priest---incur the penalty of excommunication in the very commission of the act---"latiae sententiae". This is no different than the case with other mortal sins---once we commit them, we may not receive Communion. The Pope need not issue a bull of excommunication to tell somebody who's procured an abortion they've been excommunicated. They know it already. (And if for some reason they were truly utterly ignorant of this offense resulting in excommunication, they are not excommunicated---as with other mortal sins, one must have grave matter, full knowledge, and complete consent for it to be mortal. The 9 year old girl in the Brazilian case clearly lacks this. Her mother---not so clear. Her abortionists---not so clear.)

Excommunication, therefore, is the door of the Church hitting you on the way out. You are no longer part of the Body of Christ. This may not be definitively damning---but it doesn't help. You now cannot benefit from the sacraments of the Church intended to help you stay on the path to the Narrow Gate. You have little means to obtain absolution for your sins available to you. You will not grow in spirit through the Eucharist. You are a man without a country.

Excommunication is the moment when all your threats to run away from home result in you coming home to find the locks have been changed. It will take extraordinary measures to get back into your home.

If you care to do so.






Follow Wizbang

Follow Wizbang on FacebookFollow Wizbang on TwitterSubscribe to Wizbang feedWizbang Mobile


Send e-mail tips to us:

[email protected]

Fresh Links


Section Editor: Maggie Whitton

Editors: Jay Tea, Lorie Byrd, Kim Priestap, DJ Drummond, Michael Laprarie, Baron Von Ottomatic, Shawn Mallow, Rick, Dan Karipides, Michael Avitablile, Charlie Quidnunc, Steve Schippert

Emeritus: Paul, Mary Katherine Ham, Jim Addison, Alexander K. McClure, Cassy Fiano, Bill Jempty, John Stansbury, Rob Port

In Memorium: HughS

All original content copyright © 2003-2010 by Wizbang®, LLC. All rights reserved. Wizbang® is a registered service mark.

Powered by Movable Type Pro 4.361

Hosting by ServInt

Ratings on this site are powered by the Ajax Ratings Pro plugin for Movable Type.

Search on this site is powered by the FastSearch plugin for Movable Type.

Blogrolls on this site are powered by the MT-Blogroll.

Temporary site design is based on Cutline and Cutline for MT. Graphics by Apothegm Designs.

Author Login

Terms Of Service

DCMA Compliance Notice

Privacy Policy