Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Canon Law & the Recife Case

The Archbishop of Recife (in Brazil) recently had to excommunicate an abortionist for killing the twin babies of a 9 year old girl who had been repeatedly raped by her own father. Mgr Cardoso Sobrinho (who has since retired having reached the age of 75) explained to anyone who would listen that he had stayed close to the girl and her family and tried to bring comfort to all the innocent victims concerned. Apparently he didn't explain loudly enough for Salvatore (aka Rino) Fisichella; this individual explained in a newspaper op-ed that excommunication was not the way to go and that instead "closeness" to the girl and "compassion" was the way forward. This "compassion" includes NOT condemning the doctors who performed the abortions. So far, so journalistic boilerplate.

Except Mr Fisichella isn't Mr, he's Mgr. Actually he's His Excellency Salvatore Fisichella, Titular Archbishop of Vicohabentia and President of the Pontifical Academy for Life! His comments were hailed by Frances Kissling the infamous pro-abortion "Catholic" as allowing "that there are some cases officially acknowledged where individuals can choose abortion and have a calm conscience". The paper in which Fisichella penned these incoherent ramblings?

L'Osservatore Romano.

That's right, the newspaper owned by the Pope.

Well God bless Archbishop Cardoso Sobrinho for not taking this lying down. He demanded a right of reply in L'Osservatore but was ignored. So he has circulated a dossier outlining his complaint to approximately 100 Curial officials. He's hoping that this will spark an appropriate response but in the event that it doesn't he's prepared, according to reports, to lodge a formal denunciation of Mgr Fisichella which will require some sort of formal resolution.

Two other interesting responses: The first came from the redoubtable Mgr Michel Schooyans and can be found here. He suggests that only Fisichella's resignation on foot of a strong statement from the Holy Father can now salvage the situation. His piece on Lifesite News is worth reading in its entirety but there is a handy little summary at the top if you want to see just the main points. Secondly, I (like many others no doubt) was waiting to see what Dr Ed Peters would have to say.

Dr Peters
is a canon lawyer, a serious Catholic and a man who expends considerable effort explaining to anyone who wants to read his blog how canon law works. He is also a calm measured sort of man who doesn't blast off denunciations on a whim but instead offers useful, practical solutions. Here's his summary and analysis of the Recife case which includes links to all the main public documents and comments. It's well worth examining and In the Light of the Law is well worth bookmarking.

What the Holy Father or his curial collaborators will do is anyone's guess. What the poor girl and her dead babies need is lots of prayer. Please God, Archbishop Cardoso will persevere in seeking justice and Archbishop Fisichella will come to see the error of his ways. Oremus.

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