Ross and John Schwenkler note the Vatican's belated compassion for a nine-year-old Brazilian who was raped and impregnated by her step-father and had an abortion because the pregnancy threatened her life. The girl's mother and the the doctors responsible were promptly excommunicated. David Gibson writes that "there were early reports that the child was declared excommunicated, too, but as she is under 17, that wasn’t canonically possible." But, from what I have read, the substance of the article they are discussing doesn't actually say that the mother or doctors have had their excommunications lifted (I searched for the full text on the L'Osservatore Romano's website but no luck):
...because excommunication is incurred automatically at the moment a direct abortion is carried out, "there was no need to declare with such urgency and publicity a fact that occurred automatically," [Archbishop Rino Fisichella] said.
Fisichella said the church can still be firm with its moral principles and at the same time reach out and show mercy toward others.
...[Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho] "did not excommunicate anyone," but simply cited the norms that exist in canon law, said Auxiliary Bishop Dimas Lara Barbosa of Rio de Janeiro, secretary-general of the Brazilian bishops' conference.
Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha of Mariana, president of the bishops' conference, said to reduce the issue to a simple question of excommunication was to push to the back burner the issue of violence against children, which needs to be discussed by the country. This year the bishops' annual Lenten fraternity campaign, "Fraternity and Public Security," addresses domestic violence as a source of insecurity among Brazilian women and children.
At the press conference, Archbishop Rocha said: "Rape is such a repugnant act that the church does not need to call attention to it. Abortion, however, is not seen as such by some, and that is the reason for excommunication: not only to punish but to show those who practiced the act the gravity of their deeds."
This is a step in the right direction, but it does not make the church right. The Vatican has also commented on the Lefebvre dust-up.
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