The case of a Brazilian nine-year-old girl who was raped and impregnated by her stepfather has shocked many in that country and the world. However, there is a strikingly different view of the most serious elements of this crime. For the Vatican, the most shocking part is that the girl was given an abortion at the recommendation of doctors who said that she was too young to give birth. The Church has now excommunicated the mother and the doctors. It has decided not to excommunicate the step father.
Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho insisted that “God’s law is above any human law. So when a human law … is contrary to God’s law, this human law has no value.” He only briefly addressed the decision to retain the stepfather as a Catholic while excommunicating the mother and doctors. Cardoso simply said that while the stepfather committed “a heinous crime … the abortion – the elimination of an innocent life – was more serious”.
Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, head of the Catholic church’s Congregation for Bishops and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, said that the mother’s and girl’s crime was worse than the rape by aborting two twin fetuses: “Life must always be protected, the attack on the Brazilian church is unjustified.”
When the girl’s 4-month pregnancy was discovered, she told police that she had been sexually abuse by her stepfather since the age of six. The 23-year-old stepfather also allegedly sexually abused the girl’s physically handicapped 14-year-old sister. He has been arrested. Remarkably, however, in Brazil, the alleged raping of a child since she was six and the rape of a handicapped child will only bring a maximum sentence of 15 years.
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