By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

RECIFE, Brazil, March 5, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Archbishop of the Brazilian city of Recife has announced the excommunication of a doctor who performed an abortion on a nine year old girl, as well as the family members who made the decision to carry out the procedure.

The girl, whose name has not been revealed by the Brazilian media, was found to be pregnant with twins recently.  Her stepfather has confessed that he began molesting her at the age of three and that he is the father of the child.  He is under arrest pending an investigation of his relationship with his stepdaughter, as well as her 14 year old sister.

Although doctors at the hospital where the girl was initially admitted, Imip, reportedly said that her life was not in danger, her mother reportedly transferred her to another hospital, Cisam, that was willing to do the abortion, which is not penalized under Brazilian law because the girl was raped.

José Cardoso Sobrinho, Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, confirmed that while the child would not be held accountable for the act, the doctor who carried out the abortion and anyone who assisted or gave their approval were excommunicated by the Church.

"To be subject to this penalty is it is necessary to be of age.  The Church is very benevolent, especially with minors," the Archbishop told the media. "Now the adults, those who approved, who carried out this abortion, are excommunicated."

Sobrinho brushed aside the notion that the legality of the abortion under Brazilian law was a sufficient excuse for those involved.

"The law of God is above all human law," he said.  "Therefore, when a human law, meaning a law promulgated by human legislators, is contrary to the law of God, this human law has no value."

Abortion, he said, is "homicide against innocent life.  We are talking about a silent holocaust, that kills one million innocents in Brazil and fifty million in the world every year, a holocaust worse than the six million Jews, which we lament every year."

The Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife was preparing to file a motion to prevent the abortion when news arrived that it had already been carried out.

The Archbishop’s decision to announce the excommunication, which is automatic under the Church’s law for those who participate in an abortion, was met with denunciations publicized by Brazil’s media, which is dominated by liberal ideologues. Among those quoted was Brazil’s pro-abortion health minister, Jose Gomes Temporao, who repeated the claim that the girl was at risk from the pregnancy.  

However, an attorney for the Archdiocese, who was preparing to file a motion to stop the abortion when word came that it had already been done, told the media that "various specialists from Imip, which is a major hospital, say that she didn’t have a risk of dying.  They could have waited longer."

In an interview with ElPais.com yesterday, Sobrinho held firm.

"I’m not sorry.  What I did was to declare the excommunication.  It is my obligation to alert the people, so that they may fear the laws of God," he told the online publication.

The Archbishop will reportedly give a homily against abortion at the launch of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops annual Fraternity Campaign this Saturday.  Last year’s Campaign was entitled "Fraternity and the Defense of Life" and galvanized the nation’s Catholic majority against the practice. 

A nationwide poll last year indicated that 68% of Brazilians oppose the further legalization of the abortion, which is not criminally penalized only in rape cases, or when the mother’s life is in danger.

Sobrinho made headlines earlier this month when he denounced the distribution of millions of contraceptives for Carnival, a festival that precedes the Catholic celebration of Lent. 

Related LifeSiteNews coverage:

The Pro-Life Pentecost in Brazil, and what it Means for the Rest of the World
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/mar/08032010.html

Catholic Diocese Shows Horrors of Abortions to Faithful, Displays Fetal Models in Parishes
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/mar/08031208.html

Brazilian Bishops Launch Major National Campaign Against Abortion, Euthanasia, and Embryonic Stem Cell Research
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/feb/08020810.html