Brazil church officials defend approach to child rape victim

posted by David Gibson

The excommunications surrounding the abortion resulting from the case of a 9-year-old girl raped by her abusive stepfather and impregnated with twins were correct and the pastoral care of the child caring and sensitive…And the Vatican official who publicly criticized them is tantamount to being an apologist for abortion.

So say Brazilian church officials who sharply protested the unusually direct criticisms of the Brazilian archbishop’s handling of the case made in the Vatican newspaper by a top Vatican official.

The protest by leading officials of the Archdiocese of Recife, whose archbishop, José Cardoso Sobrinho, pronounced the excommunications of the girl’s mother and physicians and all involved in the abortion (though not the stepfather) was perhaps more unusual in its fierce pushback against an influential prelate in Rome, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

The archdiocesan officials accused Fisichella of “utter ignorance of the facts” and said his views–Fisichella is the Vatican’s top bioethics official–“may be interpreted as an apologia of abortion, violating the Magisterium of the Church.” Wow. 

(Fisichella can pick his foes–he was also weighing in after another top Vatican official, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, had supported Archbishop Sobrinho.)

It’s messy, not to mention tragic, but LifeSiteNews has the rundown of the statement of the Brazil church officials, which has good details of the solicitude shown by the parish priest, but also a strong point-by-point defense of excommunications as “therapeutic” and Fisichella as worse than misguided: 

6. The article is, in other words, a direct attack of the defense of the lives of the three children vehemently made by Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho and leaves evident how much the author does not have the necessary data or information to speak on the matter, due to his utter ignorance of the facts. The text may be interpreted as an apologia of abortion, violating the Magisterium of the Church. The abortionist doctors were not in the moral crossroads mentioned by the text; on the contrary, they performed the abortion with full knowledge and coherence with what they believe and teach. The hospital in which the abortion on the little girl was performed is one of those in which this procedure is always performed in our state, under the cover of “legality”. The doctors who acted as executioners of the twins declared, and still declare in the national media, that they did what they are used to doing “with great pride”. One of them declared even that: “Then, I have been excommunicated many times”.

Your view? Read it all here… 

Comments read comments(23)
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Steve T

posted March 20, 2009 at 9:07 am

Are all these people just nuts? I am finding the magisterium harder and harder to take seriously.

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posted March 20, 2009 at 9:59 am

Though I am not Catholic, my heart breaks because of this continuing argument. Lost in all of this is the young girl, her distraught mother, and any other of the family who are likely trying to bring some sort of healing to the young abuse victims (lest we forget the 14 year old sister). Also forgotten, as more and more news reports surface, are the numerous other instances of child abuse taking place in the country.
I find it interesting that so-called “medical experts” on both sides of this argument are making categorical statements about he medical necessity of the abortion (or lack thereof) without ever having examined the young girl first hand. How can any doctor make a diagnosis from abroad, on either side of the ledger?
I am reminded of the passage in Mark 2 where Jesus and his disciples are accused of breaking the law regarding the Sabbath with their healing and gathering of food. Jesus correctly points out that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
Meanwhile, the straining of gnats continues.

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Your Name

posted March 20, 2009 at 11:32 am

Anyone that would be against the abortion in this case is sick regardless of what religion you are. No 9 year old child should have to be forced to birth twin babies at any cost. If you believe in a higher power than you can be assured these fetuses will be in Gods hands anyway. Making a child give birth who is still a little child herself would be totally cruel. I have given birth and it is not pleasant and no man has a right to tell anyone what to do in a case like this. (man has not given birth and has no idea how painfull it can be). So lets not make this youing lady a victim twice.
Once by her father and the second by the catholic church.
Then again the catholic church is notorious for setting aside
it morals when it comes to abused children (ask all the mallested young boys out there that were involved in the coverups from their churchs priest).
Shame on the church and its people for being so judgemental.

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Little Bear

posted March 20, 2009 at 11:40 am

Pastoral care of the child? And the the Archdiocese of Recife, whose archbishop, José Cardoso Sobrinho, pronounced the excommunications of the girl’s mother and physicians and all involved, did know all of the facts? Did he personally go to visit the child, her mother, and the doctors?
For the sake of argument, suppose the 9-year-old would have been capable of giving birth to live twins (with the little girl weighing about 66 pounds), would Archbishop Sobrinho have provided for the care, feeding, clothing, housing, health-care, and education of these 4 children (I am also including the 14-year-old who is mentally challenged)?
It is very easy to make church pronouncements—excommunications. But when the rubber hits the road—what PRACTICAL, day-to-day help would the Archdioces of Recife provide to this distraught family?
And Archbishop Rino Fisichella, head of the Pontificial Academy for Life knows nothing of the facts? I will wager that he knows much more than this backwater Archbishop from Recife could even begin to fathom.
Between what is happening in the United States, with Archbishops/bishops firing and excommunicating people—hammering folks with their interpretations of orthodoxy, and this prelate excommunicating everyone trying to save the little girl’s life—one has to wonder—-what 11th Plague is the Catholic Church being afflicted with—-Egypt had 10 plagues—-and the Church is being infested with ecclesiastical demigogues who haven’t even the faintest idea of Servant-leadership.

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posted March 20, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Those church guys in Brazil are totally out of their cotton pickin’ minds! And they continue to prove it everytime they open their mouths. Let’s see, 9 year old girl, raped, pregnant…not with just one fetus, but 2, weighs about 66 or so pounds, should most certainly GIVE BIRTH to those twin fetus’s. NOOOOOO! It is too outrageous to even start to consider.
But hey, the rapist…no problem with his standing the church…send him to jail for 15 years or so.
The RCC does do good things for the poor in many countries, however this proves that the Big Dudes have absolutely no idea of the real world, not even those in Brazil apparently, who claim that the young one really should have carried those fetus’s. She was OK to be sacrificed to the cause of reproduction. Am so glad the mother and doctors diagreed and gave her the abortion…that was in the best interest of all.

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posted March 20, 2009 at 1:22 pm

I read this and wonder why I am thinking of returning to the church? And how can catholics stand by and allow this? Does anyone really think Jesus would of kicked this little girl out of his church? Where is our Christian love and compassion?
This both angers me and breaks my heart.

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Gerard Nadal

posted March 20, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Both sides are correct here. The Vatican is correct in that this child, being 66 lbs. could not have brought these babies to life. They were dead either way. The Church then provides for preserving the life of the mother in such circumstances. In THIS case, the doctors are off the hook. Neither the child, nor the child’s mother are excommunicated. The Bishop has no juridical basis to do so. Besides, excommunication in abortion is automatic (laetae sententiae) and does not require a Bishop’s pronouncement PROVIDED that the person is aware of the penalty beforehand, and that there are not the mitigating circumstances such as took place in this case.
The Bishop sounds like he is understandably outraged at the situation in the hospital and with ‘Catholic’ doctors who routinely perform abortions:
“The hospital in which the abortion on the little girl was performed is one of those in which this procedure is always performed in our state, under the cover of “legality”. The doctors who acted as executioners of the twins declared, and still declare in the national media, that they did what they are used to doing “with great pride”. One of them declared even that: ‘Then, I have been excommunicated many times’.”
Sometimes the most prudent thing for a Bishop to do is to keep silent. This mother and daughter need the healing ministrations of the Church now more than ever, not an episcopal hissy fit. The doctors may delude themselves into thinking that they are some sort of heros. They aren’t if they butcher babies with great regularity. They’re murderers. But hey, even Al Capone ran soup kitchens during the Great Depression. Perhaps these doctors are using Al Capone as their moral standard.

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posted March 20, 2009 at 1:46 pm

“Does anyone really think Jesus would of kicked this little girl out of his church?”
Yeah, except for one little thing.. No one kicked the 9 year old out of the church. Would you take some time and actually read the ENTIRE article before you make an outlandishly false comment like that? Thanks..

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Linda Shumacher

posted March 20, 2009 at 4:08 pm

I increasingly wonder how the Catholic Church retains its moral authority among reasonable, educated people.
The Pope speaks of equality for women but will not ordain them. He excommunicates a 9-year-old rape victim but not her rapist. He encourages people in poor countries to have many children they cannot afford, thereby ensuring perpetual poverty. The Pope tells people in countries ravaged by AIDS not to use condoms, even within a marriage where one partner has the disease. And, of course, the Church tried to cover up sexual abuse of children by its own priests.
I mean no disrespect and am hoping that someone can explain to me how educated people retain their faith despite this.

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posted March 20, 2009 at 5:15 pm

From what I have read the girl was not excommunicated but the doctor and her mother were. It seems that this bishop sees the doctor, the mother and the girl as worse than the step-father in this instance. The step-father was only creating life while the doctor, mother and girl were complicit in destroying it. But from hearing these facts, the babies and possibly even the 9 year old girl would not likely have survived this pregnancy. The problem is that most people would see the step-father as most deserving of excommunication and the worst sinner but the Church does not see it that way.

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posted March 20, 2009 at 7:10 pm

The president of our national bishops conference gave the best answer to why abortion leads to excommunication, while pedophiles and rapists don’t get the canonical punishment. He said that society already (should I say “still”?) regards rapists and pedophiles as monsters, while abortion is seen as something almost normal, a “human right” or whatever you think. The canonical punishment is a reminder of how evil abortion is, regardless of how the society views it.

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Jimmy Mac

posted March 20, 2009 at 8:07 pm

Marcio, do you SERIOUSLY accept the fact that some heinous acts that don’t happen regularly do not warrant excommunication, but abortion does?
And the comment by Fisichella to the effect that he feels the young girl’s pain is about as obscene as it can be! He can and will NEVER know the pain of a rape victim … never.

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posted March 20, 2009 at 8:30 pm

Marcio – Wouldn’t it make sense for the church to also remind pedophiles and rapists how evil their acts are?
The church has an unfortunate history of protecting pedophiles in its own ranks so you might consider looking more critically at the explanation you’ve been given.

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posted March 20, 2009 at 11:03 pm

thanks for that love and understanding.
Great way to rub my face in a honest mistake. English not being my first language I do make mistakes and am trying to improve.
Meanwhile..Ill pray for you.

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Gerard Nadal

posted March 21, 2009 at 12:04 am

I’d be happy to answer your question. First I’ll address your bill of particulars.
Women’s Ordination. The Jews had a male-only Priesthood. The feminist dissembling about the scriptures being culturally-bound notwithstanding, the Canaanite religions that God sent the Israelites in and amongst had both priests and priestesses (who were NOT ritual prostitutes). In selecting only men, God was breaking with the established norm. Jesus at the Last Supper, chose only men for His new Priesthood. This is a very Jewish practice, from Moses, through Jesus. For Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter on women’s ordination:
The Pope does not encourage poor people to have more children than they can afford. The Church teaches Natural Family Planning WHICH IS NOT THE RHYTHM METHOD. The rhythm method is to NFP what a banjo is to a symphony orchestra. For an authoritative treatment on this go to:
If you want to know about why we abhor contraceptives, the consistent teaching of the Church through the ages was beautifully explained by Pope Paul VI:
As for sex in marriage where one partner has HIV, were I HIV+, I would rather die than subject my wife to the remotest possibility of exposure. That is the highest expression of love in such circumstances. It is self-sacrificial for the life of one’s spouse. What spiritually mature person would do otherwise.
Yes, the Catholic Church has had its day with the sex abuse scandal. Here is a 2007 AP story that indicates the problem being almost three times more prevalent in Protestant Churches:
Here is a U.S. Department of Education study that shows how, nearly 9.6% of students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career.”*
This report details a pattern of abuse, cover-up, evasion, reassignment by teachers, administrators and school districts that rivals, if not exceeds anything the Bishops have done. It’s blood-curdling.
We remain Catholics because this is the Church founded by Jesus. It is administered by the successors of His Apostles and of Peter, its first Pope. Our Bishops and Pope get their mandate and authority directly from Jesus. Only in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches do Priests consecrate bread and wine into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus. For us, this is the Source and Summit of our spiritual life.
On top of everything else, Catholics are some pretty cool people :o)
God Bless.

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posted March 22, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Gerard Nadal:
“On top of everything else, Catholics are some pretty cool people :0)”
Yes, some of them who post on these sites are cool too, IMO at least.:o)

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Gerard Nadal

posted March 22, 2009 at 10:59 pm

Hi Pagansister,
Thanks!! Now, please tell me if you will. How does one go from Unitarian to Pagan? I’ve been dying to ask you, but am rather reserved with such inquiries. I understand if the answer is too personal for the town billboard.
All the best!

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posted March 23, 2009 at 10:12 am

Of course the doctors did what they did when presented with a 9-y/o girl pregnant with twins. The chruch has NO jurisdiction or relevancy in their roles has medical proffessionals carrying out their duties. Does the church see fit consult science professional about anything? Does the church seek scientific proff and approval for its various beliefs and unsupported claims and superstitions? Short anwser – no.
The young girl’s life was at stake – period. There was little chance way she carry twins to full term and they were not going to risk it, so get over it already. The doctors would have been negligent if they had not acted in the medical interest of their 9-y/o patient. So what is the church excommunicates them? Why should they even respond to a bishop.

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posted March 23, 2009 at 11:18 am

Gerard Nadal:
Is your profile on the Community Boards here at B’net? If so, I haven’t found it. I could email you an answer, which I’d prefer to do. Not so personal…just not for all. :o)

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posted March 23, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Gerard – Thank you for your explanations and articles. There are a few things that remain unclear to me though. Why would the Church excommunicate the family of a nine-year-old rape victim but not her rapist? And how does the Catholic Church retain its moral authority after it covered up sexual abuse of children by its own priests and failed to assist victims as soon as it learned of their plight. (I’m not sure why the fact that the scandal is well documented or that abuse happens in other settings is relevant to my question.) Thanks so much for any insights you may have.

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posted March 24, 2009 at 5:07 am

Gerard Nadal
“As for sex in marriage where one partner has HIV, were I HIV+, I would rather die than subject my wife to the remotest possibility of exposure. That is the highest expression of love in such circumstances. It is self-sacrificial for the life of one’s spouse. What spiritually mature person would do otherwise.”
But you know that there aren’t so many spiritually mature persons in the communities where HIV infection is widespread. What about them?

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posted March 26, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Gerard – My understanding is that all of Jesus’ apostles were white men. If that is the case, why are black men allowed to be ordained?

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Suzanne Cordova

posted April 21, 2009 at 12:37 pm

I have discovered that people who are in favor of abortions have never seen a video of a dumpster filled with the ripped apart bodies of the poor innocents murdered by this inhumane process. My daughter viewed a video like this in high school and has been against abortion ever since. Abortion enthusiasts should see these videos. I believe they would soon change their tune.

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