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Uruguay's bishops clarify: pro-abortion lawmakers not excommunicated

October 25, 2012

The Catholic bishops of Uruguay have backed away from a statement that Catholic legislators were subject to excommunication if they voted in favor of legal abortion.

Bishop Heriberto Bodeant Fernández of Melo, the secretary-general of the bishops’ conference, told a Radio Carve interviewer that the penalty of automatic excommunication applies to those who are directly involved in an abortion, “which does not include those who vote for a law that allows it.”

Earlier, in an October 19 teleivision appearance, Bishop Bodeant had said that if a legislator voted in favor of legal abortion “with the manifest intention that he thinks the Church is wrong about this, he separates himself from the communion of the Church.”

The Uruguayan bishops’ conference subsequently issued a statement saying that the bishop’s statement had been misinterpreted. “At no time during the interview did the bishop say that lawmakers were excommunicated,” the conference said. Stories claiming that the legislators had been excommunicated were based on “an erroneous influence,” the bishops’ conference said.

The conference said that the canonical penalty of excommunication applies to those who are directly involved in an abortion, and “’direct’ means committing that specific act.” The conference said that the televised remark by Bishop Bodeant had involved a more general discussion of the nature of excommunication, and was not intended to apply to legislators.

In that October 19 interview, however, Bishop Bodeant did say that a lawmaker who supported legal abortion “separates himself from the communion of the Church,” and suggested that someone who is not in communion should not receive the Eucharist.

Meanwhile Uruguay's President José Mugica has signed into law the legislation that allows abortion on demand during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.


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  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Oct. 25, 2012 10:06 PM ET USA

    Another spineless retreat. Sadly, it's hardly even newsworthy anymore. We've come to expect our shepherds to shrink from confrontation with the wolves.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Oct. 25, 2012 9:00 PM ET USA

    Clarification is a good thing. Isn't it.

  • Posted by: jacquebquique5708 - Oct. 25, 2012 7:39 PM ET USA

    If a legislator is defying the Word of God, why should Bishop Bodeant flinch in proclaiming what God designs? Now Cardinal Raymond Burke ran into the same negative firestorm in the U.S. for similar views as AB of St. Louis. If a nominal Catholic proclaims moral views which are against the stated moral doctrine of the Catholic Church, then the good archbishop is obligated to proclaim the views of Jesus the Christ. This is all about world Marxism and the overthrow of moral authority.

  • Posted by: JimKcda - Oct. 25, 2012 7:05 PM ET USA

    Once again we are left wondering; what the heck does that mean? Yesterday’s statement seemed simple and forthright. Today we are back into the gray area where everyone can apparently decide for themself what applies to them. Do you think the U.S. Bishops called Uruguay and straightened them out? Perhaps it was the U.S. Dept. of State or V.P. Biden? Or perhaps the U.N.?! Any of the above could have threatened to withhold funds. Sorry, I hate it when others talk about conspiracies... but...

  • Posted by: Biscjim - Oct. 25, 2012 6:43 PM ET USA

    That is very disappointing. I thought that finally, a group of Catholic bishops had grown some backbone.