By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

RECIFE, BRAZIL, May 29, 2009 ( – The Archbishop of Recife, Brazil, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho has issued a firm rebuttal to criticisms that have been leveled at him for announcing the excommunication of doctors who performed an abortion on a nine-year-old girl in Recife in March. Although Sobrinho does not mention him by name, his response has been widely interpreted as being directed in part against an article written by Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and published by the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, following the excommunications.

In an interview with the French newspaper Present, Cardoso responded to statements by his critics, including Fisichella, that it wasn't proper to announce the excommunication of the doctors in the famous abortion case.

“Some, when speaking of the publicity given to this affair, affirm that it wasn't 'opportune' to speak of excommunication,” said Cardoso. “I am not in agreement with this point of view. I am told that that the excommunication should have been almost forgotten. My opinion is different.  I say that this law exists for the good of the Church.”

Cardoso added: “This is a law of the Church, for the good of the Church.  It has existed for several centuries … Would it better to be silent?  Well, in my opinion, it is of the highest importance to draw the attention of everyone and especially the Catholic faithful, to the seriousness of the crime of abortion.  It is for that reason that the law exists.”

The Archbishop explained that excommunication should not be considered an act of cruelty, but a way of correcting and healing those who involve themselves in evil.

“We, in our diocese, have received many messages from many people who have told me 'Now, I understand better the gravity of abortion, and I will change my conscience,'” said Cardoso. “In my opinion, the act of the drawing attention to the existence of this excommunication produces a spiritual benefit among the Catholic faithful, but also among others, who, apparently, quietly undergo abortions and who, I believe from now on, will weigh in their conscience the gravity of what they are doing. And this is the final goal of this law of the Church, of this penalty of excommunication: it is medicinal. It is a remedy in view of the conversion of all.”

Cardoso also noted the likely political consequences of not enforcing the Church's law in Brazil.

“Here in Brazil, we are in the process of preparing a law to legalize abortion,” he told Present. “We Catholics must speak first on moral responsibility. Evidently, there are Catholics in our Parliament who defend the law of God, but there are others who defend this bill, beginning with the president of the Republic. We cannot remain silent!”

The article by Archbishop Fisichella, which appeared in L’Osservatore Romano on March 15 and was later republished by the newspaper in multiple languages, was written without consulting with Archbishop Cardoso. It defended the doctors who had killed the unborn twins and insinuated that the abortion had saved the life of the girl. However, as LSN has revealed in its reporting on the case, the hospital where the girl was originally admitted stated that her life was in no danger at the time of the procedure.

“Others deserve excommunication and our forgiveness, not those who enabled you to live and who will help you to recover your hope and trust – despite the presence of evil and the wickedness of many,” Fisichella wrote, addressing the 9-year-old girl.

The article implied that the act of declaring the excommunication against the physicians was cruel and distracted attention from the needs of the girl, a contention rejected by Archbishop Cardoso.

Although Fisichella is the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, his statement in the Recife case have drawn criticism from Pro-Life leaders worldwide, including American Life League President Judy Brown, herself a member of the Academy, and Fr. Thomas Euteneur, President of Human Life International.

Archbishop Cardoso received Human Life International's Cardinal von Galen Award for the Defense of Life on April 16.

Related Links:

Extended excerpts from interview with Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho 

Previous LIfeSiteNews coverage:

International Pro-Abortion Group Conspired With Hospital to Kill Unborn Twins in Famous Brazilian Case –
Part I:
Part II:
Part III:

Brazilian Archbishop Who Announced Excommunication of Abortionists Receives International Pro-Life Award

Pro-Life Leaders Worldwide Concerned About Weakening of Vatican's Pro-Life Stand in Wake of Uncorrected Vatican Newspaper Article 

Brazilian Medical Expert Counters Statements by Vatican Official Defending Abortion for Nine-Year-Old Girl


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