BRASILIA – Brazil’s Catholic bishops conference denied that the archbishop of Recife and Olinda, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, excommunicated the mother and doctors who practiced a legal abortion on a 9-year-old girl that was pregnant with twins after being raped by her stepfather.
The secretary general of the bishops conference, Dimas Lara Barbosa, said that the prelate “at no time excommunicated anyone.”
The case won notoriety and sparked a controversy between Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who defended the medical position of saving the girl’s life because of her pelvic incapacity to continue with the high-risk pregnancy, and the Catholic hierarchy, backed by the Vatican.
“People who consciously work to stop a birth are placing themselves outside the communion of the church, because they no longer share the Christian philosophy, which is in defense of life,” Lara said. “We don’t know who does or does not have this act on his conscience.”
The president of the bishops conference, Cardinal Geraldo Lyrio Rocha, commented that “excommunication is not synonymous with condemnation to hell. I say that because in the popular imagination, when someone was excommunicated it seemed he was being sent to hell.” EFE