By Hilary White

ROME, June 11, 2009 ( – Michel Schooyans, a professor emeritus of philosophy at the Université Catholique de Louvain, in Belgium has issued a stinging assessment of the situation between Brazil’s Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho and the head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV). Schooyans wrote that what he has called the “Recife Affair” is one of “utmost gravity” for the Church.

Mgr. Schooyans bluntly says that Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, the head of the PAV, justified the abortion of twins of the nine year-old girl in Brazil “on the grounds of compassion towards the little girl and compassion towards the doctors.” The morality expounded in the article, he said, “is a situational morality. According to him, moral principles ought to be taken into consideration in so far as they respect freedom of choice in concrete circumstances. Here we have total relativism.”

What Fisichella failed to do in his March 15th article in L’Osservatore Romano, was to “recommend compassion towards the aborted twins.” “Let it simply be established,” Schooyans wrote, “that [Fisichella] is here admitting direct abortion.”

Schooyans, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences who has written twenty books on political philosophy, contemporary ideologies and international population policies, wrote, “In objective terms, … [the] article provides formidable backing to all who, in Latin America (Brazil, Santo Domingo, etc.) and elsewhere, are waging a campaign to legalise abortion, with the support of President Obama, the European Union, the IPPF and other NGOs.”

After the announcement by Archbishop Cardoso in March that those who had procured the abortion of twins on a nine-year-old rape victim in Recife, Brazil, were under the penalty of automatic excommunication, the world’s press attacked the archbishop, and by extension the Catholic Church, for “insensitivity” and lack of compassion.

On March 15th, the pro-life world was shocked to read an article by Archbishop Fisichella that supported not his fellow bishop, but the conclusion of the pro-abortion media that the action had been “hasty” and lacking in compassion. In his article, published by the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Fisichella blasted Cardoso for having failed to provide all possible pastoral care for the girl and her family.

Since then, despite the case gaining international attention, Archbishop Cardoso has said that L’Osservatore Romano has bluntly refused to publish his rebuttal and correction, in which, he says, many factual errors by Archbishop Fisichella are revealed. A refutation of Fisichella’s attack, published on the website of the archdiocese, revealed that neither Archbishop Cardoso nor any other official of the archdiocese of Olinda and Recife had been contacted prior to its publication.

Moreover, Fisichella’s article was highly praised by the secularist media and by abortion campaigners as a signal that the Vatican is “softening” its stand on the total inadmissibility of procured abortion.

Schooyans wrote that “crucial questions” remain unanswered about the affair, including whether the article was vetted before publication by the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“[Fisichella] has himself stated that ‘the article was written on request’. At the request of whom? It is being insinuated in some quarters that it was written at the request of the office of the Secretary of State. This is the crucial question.”

Read the full paper here.  

Read related coverage:

Interview with Brazil Archbishop over Excommunication of Abortion Doctors


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