US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Hard cases, part two

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

The case of the 9-year-old Brazilian girl who was discovered to be pregnant with twins after being raped by her stepfather has now drawn comment from Rome, according to the BBC. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, head of the Congregation for Bishops, defended Archbishop of Olinda and Recife Jose Cardoso Sobrinho's decision to excommunicate the mother of the girl and medical personnel who terminated her pregnancy. Sobrinho has been attacked by members of the Brazilian government.

As I said in my previous post on this issue, I don't think this difficult case is the one to draw attention to if the Re and Sobrino want to promote the church's anti-abortion message. It's too problematic on a number of levels--the age of the girl, the situations surrounding her pregnancy, the danger to her health, to name a few--and the public relations storm that it has kicked up will likely have many Brazilians favoring more liberalized abortion laws in the country, where the procedure is available now only in cases of rape and when the life of the mother would likely be endangered by the pregnancy. 

It would be nice to have a Catholic moral theologian comment on the complexity of the issue in the press, but I imagine it is now too hot to handle.