Monday, March 16, 2009


Some days ago I was reading about a very tragic case that occurred in Brazil. A young nine-year old girl who had been repeatedly raped by her step-father, was found pregnant with twins. The doctors judging that carrying the pregnancy to term would almost certainly jeopardize the life of the child-mother, performed an abortion. On hearing of this the Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho was quick to point out to the automatic excommunication incurred by the doctors and the mother. His tone came across as harsh, unfeeling and legalistic. Something did not ring true about this approach but there was no gainsaying its orthodoxy. While deep within myself I felt very uncomfortable. I just could not put my finger on the reasons.

Then yesterday I read something that brought home the reason for my discomfort, and made me feel a little less alone (I was in some very esteemed company when I felt unhappy with Archbishop Sobrinho’s reaction). Here are the views on this issue of Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life. He took a personal approach. The girl “in the first place should have been defended, hugged and held tenderly to help her feel that we were all on her side” he wrote in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, March 15.

The perspective is clear and is the truly Christian approach. It reflects the words of Jesus: “Be ye merciful as thy Father in heaven is merciful.” Would that my entire approach to life and people is marked by this same mercy and compassion, and especially when it concerns the weak and the helpless, who feel condemned already and have no need to be consigned to some deeper abyss of denigration.

Lord make us all merciful and compassionate!!!

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