clarify backtrack: pro-abortion lawmakers not excommunicated
CWN – October 25, 2012
The Catholic bishops of Uruguay have backed away from a statement that Catholic legislators were subject to excommunication if they voted in favor of legal abortion.
Bishop Heriberto Bodeant Fernández of Melo, the secretary-general of the bishops’ conference, told a Radio Carve interviewer that the penalty of automatic excommunication applies to those who are directly involved in an abortion, “which does not include those who vote for a law that allows it.”
Earlier, in an October 19 teleivision appearance, Bishop Bodeant had said that if a legislator voted in favor of legal abortion “with the manifest intention that he thinks the Church is wrong about this, he separates himself from the communion of the Church.”
The Uruguayan bishops’ conference subsequently issued a statement saying that the bishop’s statement had been misinterpreted. “At no time during the interview did the bishop say that lawmakers were excommunicated,” the conference said. Stories claiming that the legislators had been excommunicated were based on “an erroneous influence,” the bishops’ conference said.
The conference said that the canonical penalty of excommunication applies to those who are directly involved in an abortion, and “’direct’ means committing that specific act.” The conference said that the televised remark by Bishop Bodeant had involved a more general discussion of the nature of excommunication, and was not intended to apply to legislators.
In that October 19 interview, however, Bishop Bodeant did say that a lawmaker who supported legal abortion “separates himself from the communion of the Church,” and suggested that someone who is not in communion should not receive the Eucharist.
Meanwhile Uruguay’s President José Mugica has signed into law the legislation that allows abortion on demand during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Additional sources for this story: See www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=16040