Wednesday, March 25, 2009

9 Year Old Rape Victim and The Catholic Church

I normally limit my religious posting to Sundays, not because Sunday is the only day for God, but because it makes it easy for those who do not wish to read it to skip. Well, this time world news and religion make that impossible.
For those who don't know, a nine year old girl in Brazil was raped by her step-father, became pregnant with twins, and had an abortion.  Her mother and doctor's have been ex-communicated by the Catholic Church. The excommunication is not the result of the rape. No, it's because she had an abortion.  The girl was not excommunicated only because she is still seen as a child in the eyes of the Church.
The Vatican, however, does not agree with the excommunication of the doctor's because they acted to save the girl's life.
"Her life was in serious danger because of the pregnancy in progress," Fisichella wrote. "How to act in these cases? An arduous decision for the physician and for the moral law itself."
First of all, I find the Church's position that abortion is far worse than raping a child to be disgusting, and apparently the Vatican agrees on some level. However, the initial differentiation between abortion being a mortal sin, while raping the child was a venial sin, is an issue for me. Using the Church's own guidelines, thou shalt not kill and thou shalt not commit adultery are both in the Ten Commandments. Both are clearly stated, yet only one resulted in excommunication.
Humans are fallible, and that includes those in ministry. Whe we start judging one another, judging the degree of each sin, we begin to take on the roll of God, and in any case, while the New Testament does discuss repeat sinners (treated as Gentiles or tax collecters), in Matthew 18: 21-35,  we are also instructed to forgive-- not once or twice; not ten times; but "up to seventy times seven." 
By excommunicating any of the parties, are we truly forgiving? Do I believe the nine year old wanted to have sex with her step-father? NO! Do I believe she or her mother wanted her to have an abortion? No. Do I believe that a nine year old girl carrying twins to term would be a significant threat to her life? Yes. Does any of that matter? No!
Only the girl, her mother, and the doctor's can examine their on conciences and determine if the abortion was justified. The Church, in making any determination, is putting the life of the fetuses above the life of the child and attempts to be the concience and intercede for God. Those involved can pray directly to God and examine their conscience.
No issue is black and white. This one included. Yet the Church attempted to make it a clearly black and white issue, and I find that quite frustrating.

Blue Milk posted on this a couple of weeks ago, but I'm behind in my Reader.  I have intentionally avoided the legality issue. My personal belief and belief in the role of government are in conflict.


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