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Brazilian priests sharply differ with Vatican prelate on abortion/excommunication dispute

March 19, 2009

Church leaders in Recife, Brazil, have taken issue with the claim by a Vatican official that the Church was too quick to announce the excommunication of those involved in providing an abortion for a 9-year-old girl pregnant with twins. Writing in L'Osservatore Romano, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, had suggested the the Church's penalty appeared harsh and ignored the suffering of the young girl. The Brazilians clerics, in an extended (and somewhat heated) response, said that they had "treated the pregnant girl and her family with all charity and tenderness," and did their utmost "to avoid the abortion and thus save all three lives"-- long before the case became a media obsession. The fact that the Church stipulates the penalty of excommunication for involvement in abortion was brought up before the procedure, they pointed out, as a reminder of the gravity of the offense. The priests of Recife note: "We are convinced that the disclosure of this therapeutic penalty (the excommunication) will do much good to many Catholics, making them avoid this grievous sin."


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