By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

QUITO, August 6, 2008 ( – Ignoring government warnings not to “meddle” in Ecuadorian politics, the Catholic bishops of Ecuador have issued a clear denunciation of the nation’s new proposed constitution, which opponents are calling “abortionist” due to its ambiguous language on human life and family issues.

Declaring that the points raised in its statement are “non-negotiable”, the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference lashes out at the document for permitting abortion, attacking the natural family of one man and one woman, and subverting parental rights to determine the education of their children.

The new constitution, say the bishops, “does not clearly recognize the right to life from conception.  Without mentioning the word ‘abortion’, the proposed Constitution leaves the door open to the suppression of new life in the womb of the mother.”

They also note that “in the context of ‘sexual and reproductive rights’,” the text “acknowledges in every person the right to decide when and how many children ‘to have’ (this is understood even after they have procreated), assuming in this way the acceptance of abortion.”

The bishops add that the document “attacks the family as the fundamental unit of society and of the common good.  The new Constitution diminishes the family when it rejects the existence of the model family to substitute it with different ‘types of family’.  From there it goes to equate same-sex unions with the family.”

The bishops also state their fear that the new constitution is based on “statism”, the notion that the institution of the state is more important than the human persons who are its members. 

“We have discovered that statism seems to be the connecting thread of the new Constitution.   It speaks about rights, of course, but many of these rights flow from the State, violating the creativity and responsibility of people within society.”

“The statism is even more evident in (the area of) education,” say the bishops.  “The right of parents and the recognition of freedom of instruction are contradicted when the State arrogates to itself the right to determine what must be taught and what must be ignored.”

The Ecuadorian publication El Universo is reporting that the Catholic bishops are preparing a full legal analysis of the new constitution, which will be published in two weeks.  Evangelical Protestants are also preparing their own legal, moral, and Biblical analysis, which they say they will distribute to every church in the country.

They are proceeding despite repeated denunciations by government authorities, as well as numerous death threats that have been received by the head of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Antonio Arregui Yarza of Guayaquil (see coverage at

Socialist President Rafael Correa denies bitterly that the constitution will deliver the country to a totalitarian system.  He recently said that he would tell any clerics who said such a thing that “it’s a lie, and you have no right to do that, you are engaging in political activity, you are betraying your role as a pastor.”

The opposition of religious leaders and numerous other pro-life groups and individuals, appears to be reflected in the general population.  In a recent poll only 47% said they favored the new constitution.  A “yes” vote from a majority of eligible voters is required to approve the document, which will be decided on September 28.

Related coverage:

New Ecuadorian Constitution Endangered by Pro-Abortion, Anti-Family Language

Ecuador’s Proposed Constitution Would “Establish Penalties” for Groups that “Promote Homophobia”

Famous Model and TV Announcer Wins Battle to Protect Life and Family Values in Ecuadoran Constitution

Ecuador’s President and Ruling Party to Seeks to Exclude Mention of God in New Constitution

Ecuadorans Battle Over Abortion in their New Constitution