Monday August 9, 2010

Filipino Archbishop: Abortion Entails Automatic Excommunication

By Patrick B. Craine

MANILA, Philippines, August 9, 2010 ( – A prelate in the Philippines is warning Catholics that they face automatic excommunication if they in any way participate in an abortion.

Archbishop Oscar Cruz, archbishop emeritus of Lingayen-Dagupan and a canon lawyer, told CBCPNews last week that this penalty applies to any who are “actively involved” in bringing about the abortion. “That is called active participation … from the woman concerned, the husband who helped her, the abortionist, or the nurses,” he said to the bishops’ official news service.

“Excommunication means that the person concerned is separated from the spiritual benefits enjoyed by all members of the Church. Furthermore, the same person could not take communion,” the prelate added.

The Code of Canon Law specifies that participating in an abortion involves a latae sententiae excommunication (Can. 1398), meaning that the penalty follows automatically from the act itself, without need for official pronouncement.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona appealed to this canon in the spring when he announced that a nun in his diocese had incurred automatic excommunication by permitting an abortion at a local Catholic hospital. While he faced tremendous backlash, numerous Catholic commentators pointed out that the bishop had done nothing but alert the nun to the fact that she had excommunicated herself.

The Philippines is about 80% Catholic, and the bishops exercise considerable influence. They have been actively and strongly opposing advocates of abortion and population control. Recently, in particular, they have been fighting a ‘reproductive health’ bill that they say “poses a serious threat to life of infants in the womb.”

See related coverage:

Philippine Legislators Attempting to Resurrect Controversial Reproductive Health Bill


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