March 08, 2009


It's stories like this that (legitimately) get the Roman Catholic Church and anti-choice activists accused of misogyny:

Rape row sparks excommunications

A Brazilian archbishop says all those who helped a child rape victim secure an abortion are to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church. The girl, aged nine, who lives in the north-eastern state of Pernambuco, became pregnant with twins. It is alleged that she had been sexually assaulted over a number of years by her stepfather....

The anti-choice crowd tends to claim that they are not anti-women but rather pro-child; situations like this kind of give away the game, though.

I can certainly get behind campaigns to convince people to be more open to accepting unexpected children into their life, and even to persuade people of a particular moral status for abortion (e.g. that it is wrong or wrong in certain circumstances)óboth can be conducted on a social level and without judging or prejudging individual situations, and without veering off into dismissing or ignoring women.

The reason this particular case is making the international news is because of the clarity of the example: this isn't even just your typical mother's-life-in-danger example, because we also have rape, incest, and abuse thrown into the mix, not to mention the extreme youth of the child involved. And yet, the archbishop claims that it is gravely wrong to save this girl's life.

Lee points out an additional irony: "I notice the stepfather apparently can still take communion." Apparently the fate of public excommunication is too harsh for rapists, child abusers, et al, rather to be reserved for truly evil people, like the scared mother of a scared 9-year-old girl, and the doctors who save the girl's life. Good job, Catholic Church!

"Ranting at others because they are 'killing babies' may be emotionally satisfying, but it doesn't change people's minds." --Fr. Andrew Greeley

Posted by blahedo at 10:58pm on 8 Mar 2009
I find the church's stance distressing and largely inexcusable. They have set abortion in a unique positions above all other acts which do now have some direct connection with a religious person, rite or act. It has been placed with physically assaulting the pope or heresy in that having an abortion is on the list of acts which result in automatic excommunication. Couple this with the recent article in a Vatican paper praising the washing machine as the greatest liberator of women and it paints a bleak picture indeed of what the Church thinks of women. Posted by lee at 6:28am on 11 Mar 2009
It's true. I'm also getting really sick of the fact that Mass homilies have turned into anti-Obama political rallies, usually over FOCA. I hate that they put the church's tax-exempt status at risk, I hate that they polarise the debate, and I hate that they invariably come across as anti-intellectual and dismissive of reason and logic (even when they, in theory, don't have to be).

Incidentally, Dolly Parton's "The Bridge" should be required listening for anyone who is anti-choice and claims that this is not a misogynistic stance. Then again, they'd probably just miss the point.

Posted by blahedo at 2:23am on 12 Mar 2009
I have new theory. I think that the RCC are ruling that both suicide and abortion are such damning sins because they don't want to face the people they screw over in heaven. I have heard more than one man (at least two of them were Catholic) express satisfaction at the idea that a pregnant woman who could not obtain an abortion might commit suicide.
Did you read about Rush Limbaugh taking the RCC to task for the article in a Vatican newspaper which lauded the washing machine as the greatest liberator of women? As much as the RCC stances on many women's issues piss me off, I don't see it as an institution that is irredeemably evil. To see Rush trying to whip up his ditto heads against the RCC scares me. I fear that he is trying to stir up the old fears of papists. Posted by lee at 9:57pm on 15 Mar 2009
Rush is against any agency with a coherent moral approach, however skewed we may find it; like all abusers, he seeks to limit his victims' contact with any entity which may have the capacity to meaningfully contradict him. That said, the RCC is both the institution of St. Vincent de Paul and the institution of the Kidtoucher Shuffle. One thing I've noticed -- the farther up the hierarchy, the fouler the taint. There's a lesson there, about the difference between people wanting to express their belief through works and people wanting to control that expression. As an outsider, I don't have a good solution, but step 1 is always identifying the problem. Posted by Michael at 9:27pm on 18 Mar 2009
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