Brazilian Bishop Thanks Pro-Lifers for Support: Reiterates “Excommunication is Medicine for Sinners”

By Hilary White

ROME, June 17, 2009 ( – The head of the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has received a letter of thanks from Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho of the Brazilian diocese of Olinda and Recife, for the former’s support in the controversial case of the nine-year old Brazilian girl whose twins were aborted in March this year.

In the letter the archbishop continues to defend his decision to announce the automatic excommunication of the abortionists, an action for which he was widely criticized in the mainstream press, as well as by Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, in an article in the Vatican’s official newspaper.  

Archbishop Cardoso wrote to John Smeaton, director of SPUC, that he has “received messages of solidarity and congratulation” from pro-life organizations around the world.

“I wish to express my profound gratitude to each and everyone, invoking upon you the many blessings of Our Saviour Jesus Christ who has ‘come so all would have life and have it abundantly’.”

Archbishop Cardoso explained again that his action in announcing the excommunication had been taken to warn those responsible for the abortion that they had endangered their souls. For “eternal salvation,” he wrote, “conversion is necessary, in other words a behaviour change, of no longer practicing evil and conforming one’s life to God’s laws. Mercy is not a connivance with evil, of violations of God’s laws.”

The penalty of excommunication, he wrote, is a “spiritual medicine” that “aims to help spiritually all Church members to avoid a very grave violation of the 5th commandment ... the suppression of defenceless and innocent lives.”

“To ignore this automatic penalty – or even worse, to wish its abolition is a great evil to the common good of ecclesiastic society and the eternal salvation of God’s children.”

Archbishop Cardoso continued, “We have ample proof that the great publicity of the event which happened in our archdiocese is producing very good fruits in the spiritual lives of many individuals.”

In a March 15th article in L’Osservatore Romano, Archbishop Fisichella joined in the chorus of condemnation from the world’s secular media when he characterised the excommunication announcement as “hasty” and “lacking compassion” and said that the abortionists had acted to save the girl’s life - a claim that has, however, been refuted by medical experts.

Three months after the publication of the article in L’Osservatore Romano, neither the newspaper nor Archbishop Fisichella have apologised or backed away from the attack. Archbishop Cardoso said in a recent interview with French media that L’Osservatore Romano has refused to print his side of the story.

Last week LSN reported that a prominent philosophy professor who has specialised in bioethical issues, Mgr. Michel Schooyans, wrote that Fisichella’s points in the March 15th article had betrayed a mindset of “total relativism,” one that recommended “compassion” for abortionists but not mercy for the two children killed by the abortion. 

Read some of’s extensive coverage:

Distinguished Philosophy Prof Accuses Head of Pontifical Academy for Life of "Total Relativism"

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