Vatican on Abortion and Rape

The Vatican defends the excommunication of a mom and doctors who helped her 9 year old daughter get an abortion after the girl was raped–while dismissing complaints that the rapist (her stepfather) was not punished. Oh, raping your 9 year old step child may be “deplorable,” but it isn’t so bad as to merit excommunication. I think they are worried about setting a precedent. Just think, if they excommunicated this man for sexual misconduct with a child, how many priests and bishops would also have to be excommunicated–for both rape and for covering it up?

4 thoughts on “Vatican on Abortion and Rape

  1. While I understand that the Bishop’s desire here was to make a statement about “abortion under no circumstances”, this example does not help the pro-life cause. And to make no statement abut the stepfather is deplorable.

  2. Well, any person who procures, assists, or performs an abortion receives a “latae sententiae” excommunication regardless of whether the bishop announces it. So, the family was likely excommunicated anyways, regardless of the bishop’s pronouncement.

    But, it certainly doesn’t LOOK good. Perhaps it would be different if Brazilian bishops had a regaular penchant for announcing such excommunications, but it was certainly a dubious move to exclude the stepfather who raped the girl if the rest of the family was being excomm’ed.

    This is one of those cases where following the “rule” of the law without the spirit produces a perverse and absurd result. Were the excomms “technically” correct? Yes. But that’s rather cold comfort to the rest of us.

  3. Oh- there’s a consistent policy on excommunication in the Church. As Jake points out, procuring or aiding in the procurement of an abortion means that one has in effect excommunicated themselves from the Church. There is no need for a Pope or bishop to individually excommunicate anyone for it.

    A sin like child rape, however, does not incur automatic excommunication. Nor does murder, fraud on a grand scale, or moving priests around who are pedophiles, or any other slew of serious sins. In fact, the only sin for which automatic excommunication is indicated is abortion. This is how strongly the Church wants to protect the life of the unborn.

    Other things that require a statement of excommunication by a Pope would be schismatic/heretical folks who won’t recant- example- LeFevre. Think also Luther- once he refused to recant his ideas, he was excommunicated.

    In the history of the Church excommunication once had great power to effect the changes the Church wanted done- in many cases political ones. Nowadays, formal excommunication is used more to ensure orthodoxy. In centuries past the Church taught and folks believed more that outside the Church one could not be saved- ie. would go to hell. Since Vat II, that belief has changed- many folks don’t believe that excommunication means one will go to hell.

    The Church’s policy on excommunication is pretty consistent- but this bishop is a total dork for saying what he did- no compassion, no condemnation of the step father (who may not have participated in the abortion, or who may not be Catholic) and no offer to help the family to avoid abortion.

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