Matthew Hoffman

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Bishop under Vatican investigation discusses his views on abortion

Matthew Hoffman
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MEXICO, August 9, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In an extensive interview with LifeSiteNews.com conducted last week, His Excellency Raul Vera López, bishop of the Diocese of Saltillo in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, answered questions about his involvement with organizations that promote the homosexual lifestyle and the decriminalization and government provision of abortion services.

Bishop Vera is the president of the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center, based in Chiapas, and is the founder of the Saltillo diocese’s Fray Juan de Larios Human Rights Center. A spokesman of the Fray Bartolomé Center has confirmed to LifeSiteNews that the organization supports both the decriminalization (or “depenalization”) of abortion and the provision of abortion by the government. Both groups are members of a pro-abortion alliance of civil organizations called the All Rights for Everyone Network (“Red Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos”), and the names of both organizations have appeared on various pro-abortion “human rights” statements.

Bishop Vera recently acknowledged that he is under investigation by the Vatican for his sponsorship of a homosexual organization that is accused of denying the Catholic Church’s teaching on human sexuality.  The group has also been associated with pro-abortion forces, including “Catholics for the Right to Decide.”

Not pro-abortion, but pro-depenalization?

After this reporter mentioned the fact that the names of two “human rights” groups led by Bishop Vera López appear on a 2008 declaration denouncing a pro-life constitutional amendment for the state of Jalisco, the bishop answered that the declaration was not pro-abortion, but rather against the penalization of abortion, something he regards as distinct. He called the penalization of abortions “the persecution of people who have abortions.”

“No, no, no, the penalization,” said Vera López regarding the document.  “What is debated here is the penalization or depenalization of abortion in Mexico.  That’s something else.  The penalization is the persecution of people who have abortions.”

The bishop added that he knows “perfectly” that abortion is “a crime, a murder, of a child in the womb of his mother.”

“What might be subject to debate is the penalization or non-penalization, and do you know why? Because of the frightful failures we have in Mexico in the judicial process. And they have imprisoned indigenous women for miscarriages, they have imprisoned them, there, in the state of Guanajuato, indigenous women who have had miscarriages, and they are in jail.”

“So, knowing the type of justice system we have in Mexico, and that they are going to manage that, for that reason we…I personally have never entered into a discussion about that, never have entered, never have entered.”

Vera López repeated his contention that women have been imprisoned in Guanajuato for miscarriages later in the interview. This reporter observed that pro-abortion organizations had accused the government of imprisoning women for miscarriages, but in fact (in accordance with the evidence presented at their trials) the women had killed their babies following birth at full gestation. See LifeSiteNews coverage here.  The bishop claimed that he knew nothing about those cases, and insisted that women had been imprisoned in Guanajuato for miscarriages. 

Asked about the new Catechism of the Catholic Church’s teaching that abortion should be prohibited by law, the bishop claimed that the if the Church evangelized people properly, the government’s laws would be of no concern. He repeated his contention that it was not pro-abortion to advocate the depenalization of abortion.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, in paragraph 2273, that “As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”

Asked if he therefore opposed the pro-life constitutional amendment for the state of Jalisco, in accordance with the document that his organizations had signed, Bishop Vera responded: “When there has been a discussion of penalization or non-penalization, it’s that, at some point they have to make a declaration, but no, to strengthen abortion, never, never. It’s penalization or non-penalization, it’s that.”

Membership in the pro-abortion All Rights for Everyone Network

LifeSiteNews also asked about the membership of Bishop Vera’s organizations with the pro-abortion “All Rights for Everyone Network” (Red Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos), an alliance of “human rights” groups that openly endorsed the 2007 Mexico City legal reform that permits abortion-on-demand during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and even provides it free of charge in city hospitals.

Vera López defended the organization, claiming that it was not “pro-abortion,” but rather in favor of the depenalization of abortion.  He then stated that he was neither for nor against the depenalization of abortion in Mexico City,

“No, no, no, the Network is not pro-abortion.  What it is…there is a group that is called Catholics for the Right to Decide and that is a pro-abortion network. The other network, of Rights for Everyone, is not pro-abortion,” Vera López said.

LSN: “We have documented that the Network itself is pro-abortion, because the Network itself, in the name of the Network, advocated the depenalization of abortion in the Federal District, all of that reform—

Bishop Vera: “But we are talking about the penalization and the non-penalization, kid. We are not talking about—”

LSN: “So you are in favor of the depenalization of abortion in the Federal District?”

Bishop Vera: “I am not in favor of the depenalization of abortion or the non-depenalization of abortion. I am in favor that we, as the Church, carry out a pastoral work in which we don’t have to depend on what the government says. We don’t have to depend on official and public imposition. We don’t have to be asking the government. We, the Episcopal Conference, were asking the government to inquire into that, and the government sent us packing.  Why do we have to depend on the government?”

The bishop added that the Church doesn’t have the government as an “arm” like it did during “the time of the inquisition” when “the government imposed measures.”

He said that associating with groups such as the All Rights for Everyone Network is necessary on pragmatic grounds as well “because of the situation that we are experiencing in Mexico” and protested that if “sometimes a document comes out” of this kind “well, it is not a constant thing, something repeated, it is not our purpose.”

The bishop added that if such statements become repetitive, “I am going to be more careful with my administrative team, I am going to be more careful. But they are administrative teams. I am not here supervising closely, for the love of God, for the love of God!”

The unborn forgotten by “human rights” groups?

LifeSiteNews then asked Bishop Vera about the apparent lack of concern about the right to life by groups, such as his own two “human rights” organizations, whose names have appeared on pro-abortion declarations, while apparently remaining silent while thousands of unborn children are killed every year in Mexico.

LifeSiteNews did find one document published by Bartolomé de las Casas in 2004, which contains a phrase defending the right to life of the unborn in a case in which pregnant indigenous women had been killed (pp. 5, 15). However, documents on the issue subsequent to that year bearing the organization’s name took the opposite position and were in favor of depenalization and government guarantee of abortion services. In addition, a press representative of the group has affirmed in an interview with LifeSiteNews that its position is that abortion should carry no criminal penalties, either for doctors or for their patients, and should be guaranteed as a service by the government, like any health service. The documents and the interview can be found here.

Asked about the almost total silence of his two human rights groups regarding the rights of the unborn, Vera López claimed that “many times we have spoken about the right to life from the beginning until the end, many times, many times.”

Asked why such declarations cannot be found on the internet, and where such declarations might be, the bishop responded: “Well…only…oh well, well I am already in front of the Inquisition.  If for that reason you want to accuse me of being pro-abortion, well go ahead, go ahead.”

This reporter clarified: “No, I am only asking, because for our readers what is very difficult to understand is that these groups say they are in favor—and not only your two groups, but also Agustín Pro, for example, and many others who say—”

“I repeat, I repeat brother,” Vera López interrupted, “that we are not speaking about abortion directly. We are speaking about the penalization and the depenalization of abortion. That is another thing.”

Vera López added that the justification for such a policy in favor of the depenalization of abortion has to do with problems with the justice system in Mexico, and “that’s all, that’s all.”

Evangelizing people on the right to life, the bishop said, is a matter that is “integral” and involves the lives of everyone, including other oppressed classes of society, and observed that conditions of poverty can lead people to seek abortions. “With a law or without a law, they’re going to have abortions,” he added.

As a final question, this reporter asked Vera López if he would apply his policy neutrality regarding “depenalization” to other human rights abuse cases about which the bishop often expresses his concern. For example, would he be indifferent to the depenalization of abuse of prisoners by guards on the grounds that the Church should not rely on the government to impose its morality?

“No, no, no, I am speaking of an area that is very delicate,” Vera López responded. “The situation of the woman who has an abortion is very complicated. The situation that women pass through—it’s a terrible situation.”  He cited examples of “girls who do not receive attention, girls who have boyfriends without having received any instruction,” as well as girls whose fathers work long hours in factories, and others who live in situations of promiscuity.

The bishop did not mention penalties for the doctors who perform abortions.

LifeSiteNews will soon publish the second part of its interview with Vera López regarding his sponsorship of the “San Aelredo” group, a homosexual organization whose leadership has admitted to condoning homosexual relations.

Contact information:

Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
Palazzo della Congregazioni,
00193 Roma,
Piazza Pio XII, 10
Phone: 06.69.88.42.17
Fax: 06.69.88.53.03

William Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Piazza del S. Uffizio, 11, 00193 Roma, Italy
phone: 011.3906.69.88.33.57
phone: 011.3906.69.88.34.13
Fax: 06.69.88.34.09
E-mail: [email protected]
(fax and email are most effective

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