Southern Religion

Archbishop Fisichella stands his ground

Archbishop Salvatore (Rino) Fisichella is standing his ground against an eruption of U.S. “hyper-partisanship” into Vatican affairs. He isn’t going to resign, apologize or lend further ink to his critics.

Five members of the 145-member Pontifical Academy for Life, which Fisichella heads, circulated a letter calling for his resignation.

Their campaign was supported by Judie Brown, president of the American Life League and in an essay by Monsignor Michel Schooyans, an academy member and emeritus professor at Belgium’s Louvain University. Schooyans argued that Fisischella had fallen into a trap of “bogus compassion.”

The letter was greeted with surprise by the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi. CNS reported:

“It’s a bit strange that persons who are members of an academy address a request of this kind without addressing it to the competent authorities,” Father Lombardi said. “It’s astounding and seems incorrect that such a document be given public circulation.”

At issue is the March, 2009, case of a nine-year-old Brazilian girl, about whom Allison Hantschell wrote:


I had an Easy-Bake Oven, when I was 9. It made tiny cupcakes and itty-bitty cookies, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I read about the girl in Brazil.

I don’t know her name, but she’s 9 years old, living in Brazil. Brutally raped by her stepfather, multiple times over a period of years, and finally impregnated with twins.

Nine years old. And instead of playing baseball, or learning numbers, or baking tiny cupcakes and itty-bitty cookies, this little girl is at the center of a worldwide controversy over the Roman Catholic Church, its views on abortion, and, above all, the role of mercy and the incoherence of men.

In response to the abortion, the Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Brazil, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho announced that he was excommunicating the doctors and the young girl’s mother. When that was not received well, the response was recast.

Anyone (with certain exemptions) who consciously worked to stop a birth excommunicated himself/herself, so:

Brazil’s Catholic bishops conference denied that the archbishop of Recife and Olinda, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, excommunicated the mother and doctors who practiced a legal abortion on a nine-year-old girl that was pregnant with twins after being raped by her stepfather. . . . The secretary general of the bishops conference, Dimas Lara Barbosa, said that the prelate “at no time excommunicated anyone.”

Archbishop Fisichella’s alleged sin was to write in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, that the public declaration of the already automatic excommunications was “hasty” and the nine-year-old girl, whose life was saved by the abortion of twins she was physically unequipped to have, “should have been above all defended, embraced, treated with sweetness to make her feel that we were all on her side, all of us, without distinction.”

For this, he was accused of “pseudo-compassion” – no idle charge. And one he has rejected. For good reason. Indeed, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a clarification in July, reiterating the Catholic Church’s unwavering opposition to abortion and observing that Fisichella’s words had been “manipulated and exploited.”

February 24, 2010 - Posted by | Catholic, Health, Politics, Religion | , , ,

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