he Catholic Church needs to get its priorities straight, said Michael Merritt in PoliGazette. A 9-year-old girl in Brazil was raped by her stepfather and became pregnant with twins. So, naturally, the local archbishop’s first response was to excommunicate the girl’s mother for opting for abortion, and her doctors, who believed the girl's life was at risk, for performing the procedure. Why isn’t the church praising them all for saving the poor girl’s life?
Because of one pesky thing -- church law, said Canon lawyer Edward Peters in his blog, In the Light of the Law. The Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law clearly states that “the doctors who committed the abortion” and “those who directly assisted in the deed” will be excommunicated. The girl’s age protects her from any penalty. Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho of Olinda e Recife has a history of protecting “innocent human life” -- you can hardly expect him to look the other way in this case.
Please, the archbishop's "lack of compassion" is clear, said Frances Kissling in RH Reality Check, but his canonical wisdom is fuzzy. Excommunication of the sort he discussed is something that is self-administered by someone who knows he has sinned, but the people in this case did nothing immoral, so no excommunication has occurred. "For this mother and the girl's doctors no decision could have been more moral."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Who are the real gay marriage bigots?
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Sorry Belle Knox, porn still oppresses women
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- Watch The Daily Show mock Fox News' confused man-crush on Vladimir Putin
- Religious liberty should be a liberal value, too
- Don't worry: World War III will almost certainly never happen
- Why states should stop limiting the alcohol content in your beer
- Why is American internet so slow?
- 10 things you need to know today: March 8, 2014
Subscribe to the Week