How fitting then that the Vatican should choose the day, when news of the meeting of Barack Obama (the USA's abortion president) with Pope Benedict is flashing around the world, to clarify Catholic teaching on the "grave sin" of "formal co-operation with abortion".
In an article in Osservatore Romano, released yesterday, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made a point of praising the role of His Excellency Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho, the former archbishop of Olinda and Recife, for giving every pastoral care to a nine year old girl who had an abortion when it was found she was expecting twins, and her family. Last March I wrote about the courage and compassion of the greatly vilified Archbishop Sobrinho who announced publicly that all those involved in the abortion have incurred in excommunication latae sententiae (automatically) "except for the little girl, who is not morally responsible for this tragic act."
The article in Osservatore Romano explains the inappropriateness of the term "therapeutic" abortion, saying: "As for the problem of certain medical treatments with the end of preserving the health of the mother, two different cases should be distinguished: on one hand, a procedure which directly causes the death of the fetus, often called inappropriately a 'therapeutic' abortion, cannot be any more licit than the direct murder of an innocent human being; on the other hand, a procedure which is not itself abortive may have, as a collateral consequence, the death of the child: 'If, for instance, saving the life of the future mother, regardless of her state of pregnancy, would urgently demand a surgical procedure, or other therapeutic measure, which could have, as an accessory consequence, in no way willed by itself, but unavoidably, the death of the fetus, such act could not be called a direct attack against innocent life. In such conditions, the procedure may be considered licit, as other similar medical interventions, as long as a good of great worth, such as life, is involved, and it is not possible to postpone it until after the birth of the child, nor to resort to another efficacious remedy' (Pius XII, Address to the 'Fronte alla Famiglia' and the Associazione Famiglie Numerose, November 27, 1951)."
Finally, in a paragraph which may well be taken to refer to the strongly pro-abortion doctor who carried out the abortion on the nine-year old Brazilian girl, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reminds the world:
Like millions of other pro-lifers around the world, I am delighted that the Vatican has vindicated the pastoral actions of the great Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho in the tragic case of the nine year old Brazilian girl - and I am grateful for the providential timing of the publication of this article in light of yesterday's meeting between Pope Benedict, and the US president who is so assiduously promoting abortion around the world as well as in the US.