Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Gaza conflict: Palestinians mark sombre Eid

Read more

WEB NEWS

Celebrities in the Israel-Gaza crossfire

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Israeli strike takes out Gaza power station

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French newspaper apologises for Sarkozy story

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Last-ditch talks aim to avert Argentina default

Read more

DEBATE

Europe's Plan for Putin: Will Russian Leader Bend After New Sanctions? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Europe's Plan for Putin: Will Russian Leader Bend After New Sanctions?

Read more

FOCUS

Pakistan's Ahmadis living in fear of extremist attacks

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users show solidarity with Iraqi Christians

Read more

  • Deadly shelling strikes Gaza UN school

    Read more

  • Video: Coping with rocket attacks in Israel’s Sderot

    Read more

  • Rats on the rampage at Louvre museum gardens

    Read more

  • Scores trapped as landslide hits Indian village

    Read more

  • Dozens killed in stampede at Guinea rap concert

    Read more

  • US and EU slap Russia with fresh sanctions over Ukraine

    Read more

  • 'Compelling' signs Kosovo leaders trafficked organs, prosecutor says

    Read more

  • Europe launches last resupply ship to space station

    Read more

  • Graphic: Ebola spreads across West Africa

    Read more

  • Video: How tourism is helping Rwanda’s gorillas, ex-poachers

    Read more

  • Islamists seize key Benghazi army base as fire rages on

    Read more

  • In pictures: ن - a sign of support for Iraq’s persecuted Christians

    Read more

  • Calls mount to ban France’s ‘violent’ Jewish Defence League

    Read more

  • Venezuela: Hugo Chavez’s ‘little bird’ strikes again

    Read more

Americas

Minor's abortion case pitches church against state

Video by Susana FERREIRA

Latest update : 2009-03-08

A day after Brazil’s President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva criticised a Catholic archbishop’s decision to excommunicate people who helped a minor have an abortion after she was raped, a senior Vatican cleric defended the excommunication.

AFP - A senior Vatican cleric defended Saturday the excommunication of the mother and doctors of a nine-year-old girl who had an abortion in Brazil after being raped.
   
Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, head of the Roman Catholic Church's Congregation for Bishops, told the daily La Stampa that the twins the girl had been carrying had a right to live.
   
"It is a sad case but the real problem is that the twins conceived were two innocent persons, who had the right to live and could not be eliminated," he said.
   
Re, who also heads the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, added, "Life must always be protected, the attack on the Brazilian Church is unjustified."
   
The row was triggered by the termination on Wednesday of twin foetuses carried by a nine-year-old allegedly raped by her stepfather in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco.
   
The regional archbishop, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, pronounced excommunication for the mother for authorising the operation and doctors who carried it out for fear that the slim girl would not survive carrying the foetuses to term.
   
"God's law is above any human law. So when a human law ... is contrary to God's law, this human law has no value," Cardoso said Thursday.
   
He also said the accused stepfather would not be expelled from the Church.
   
Although the man allegedly committed "a heinous crime ... the abortion -- the elimination of an innocent life -- was more serious," he said.
   
Battista Re agreed, saying, "Excommunication for those who carried out the abortion is just," as a pregnancy termination always meant ending an innocent life.
   
The case has sparked fierce debate in Brazil, where abortion is illegal except in cases of rape or if the woman's health is in danger.
   
On Friday President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva hit out at Sobrinho's decision, saying, "As a Christian and a Catholic, I deeply regret that a bishop of the Catholic Church has such a conservative attitude."
   
"The doctors did what had to be done: save the life of a girl of nine years old," he said, adding that "in this case, the medical profession was more right than the Church."
   
One of the doctors involved in the abortion, Rivaldo Albuquerque, told Globo television that he would keep going to mass, regardless of the archbishop's order.
   
"The people want a Church full of forgiveness, love and mercy," he said.
   
Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao on Thursday also slammed the archbishop.
   
"Two things strike me: the assault on the girl and the position of this bishop, which is truly lamentable," he said.
   
The girl, who was not identified because she is a minor, was last week found to be four months' pregnant after being taken to hospital suffering stomach pains.
   
Officials said she told them she had suffered sexual abuse by her stepfather since the age of six.
   
Police said the 23-year-old stepfather also allegedly sexually abused the girl's physically handicapped 14-year-old sister.
   
He was arrested a week ago and is being kept in protective custody. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
   
The website of the news group Globo reported that another girl, aged 11, had been found to be seven months pregnant following alleged sexual abuse at the hands of her adoptive father.
   
The girl has said she does not intend to seek an abortion, according to reports.
  

Date created : 2009-03-07

COMMENT(S)