A senior Vatican official has criticized the excommunication of the mother of a Brazilian girl, who had an abortion after being raped, as well as the medical team who performed it.
“Before thinking about an excommunication it was necessary and urgent to save the innocent life [of the nine-year-old girl] to bring her back to a level of humanity of which clerics should be the experts and master,” said Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
“This was not the case,” Fisichella said in an article to be published by the Vatican’s Osservatore Romano newspaper yesterday. “Unfortunately the credibility of our teaching took a blow as it appeared, in the eyes of many, to be insensitive, incomprehensible and lacking mercy.”
The Academy for Life is tasked with promoting the Roman Catholic Church doctrine on bioethics.
Brazilian bishops said on Thursday the excommunication of the mother and doctors of the nine-year-old, who was pregnant with twins and allegedly raped by her stepfather, was wrong and would not be applied.
The National Conference of Bishops of Brazil decided that the child’s mother acted “under pressure from the doctors” who said the girl would die if she carried the babies to term.
Dimas Lara Barbosa, the body’s secretary-general, told reporters the mother therefore could not be excommunicated.
“We must take the circumstances into consideration,” he said.
As for the doctors, there was no clear case that they should be expelled from the Church either, he said contrary to the position taken by Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, who last week announced the excommunications.
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