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Brazilian archbishop hints at canonical suit against Vatican official

June 09, 2009

Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho of Olinda and Recife, Brazil, has prepared a detailed memorandum on the controversial case of a 9-year-old girl who received an abortion, and the archbishop's decision to excommunicate the adults involved in the case. The document presses the archbishop's argument that Vatican officials-- in particular Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life-- misrepresented the Brazilian prelate's statements and actions. The memorandum, which was delivered to Vatican officials, concludes that Church leaders who charged the Brazilian archbishop with mishandling the case "should reflect and recognise that their hasty judgments were unfounded and they should redress the evil perpetrated, rendering justice to Archbishop Cardoso Sobrinho.”

The case of the 9-year-old girl had sparked a heated controversy in Brazil earlier this year. Writing in L'Osservatore Romano, Archbishop Fisichella said that Archbishop Cardoso had failed to show compassion for the girl and for physicians seeking to save her life, and his decision to excommunicate the doctors "unfortunately hurts the credibility of our teaching."

Archbishop Cardoso has replied that the Vatican critique was based on false information about the case. The girl's life was not in danger, he reports, and he took the step of announcing excommunications only after repeated warnings and explanations. The Brazilian archbishop has complained bitterly that the Vatican did not consult with him to ascertain the real facts of the case, and has not allowed him to set the record straight in L'Osservatore Romano.


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