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[Tradução para o inglês da declaração da Arquidiocese de Olinda em Recife cá publicada; meus agradecimentos a LifeSiteNews.com, que a divulgou, e ao Rorate Caeli que a traduziu.]

Regarding the article entitled “Dalla parte della bambina brasiliana” [by Archbishop “Rino” Fisichella] and published in L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO on March 15, we the undersigned declare:

1. The fact [the rape of the little girl] did not happen in Recife, as the article states, but in the city of Alagoinha (Diocese of Pesqueira).

2. All of us – beginning with the parish priest of Alagoinha (undersigned) – treated the pregnant girl and her family with all charity and tenderness. The Parish priest, making use of his pastoral solicitude, when aware of the news in his residence, immediately went to the house of the family, in which he met the girl and lent her his support and presence, before the grave and difficult situation in which the girl found herself. And this attitude continued every day, from Alagoinha to Recife, where the sad event of the abortion of the two innocent [babies] took place. Therefore, it is quite evident and unequivocal that nobody thought in “excommunication” in the first place. We used all means at our disposal to avoid the abortion and thus save all THREE lives. The Parish priest personally joined the local Children’s Council in all efforts which sought the welfare of the child and of her two children. In the hospital, in daily visits, he displayed attitudes of care and attention which made clear both to the child and to her mother that they were not alone, but that the Church, represented by the local Parish priest, assured them of the necessary assistance and of the certainty that all would be done for the welfare of the girl and to save her two children.

3. After the girl was transferred to a hospital of the city of Recife, we tried to use all legal means to avoid the abortion. The Church never displayed any omission in the hospital. The girl’s parish priest made daily visits to the hospital, traveling from the city which is 230 km [140 mi] away from Recife, making every effort so that both the child and the mother felt the presence of Jesus the Good Shepherd, who seeks the sheep who need most attention. Therefore, the case was treated with all due care by the Church, and not ‘sbrigativamente’ [summarily], as the article says.

4. We do not agree [with Archbishop Fisichella] that the “decision is hard… for the moral law itself”. Our Holy Church continues to proclaim that the moral law is exceedingly clear: it is never licit to eliminate the life of an innocent person to save another life. The objective facts are these: there are doctors who explicitly declare that they perform and will continue to perform abortions, while others declare with the same firmness that they will never perform abortions. Here is the declaration written and signed by a Brazilian Catholic physician: “…As an obstetrician for 50 years, graduated in the National Medical School of the University of Brazil, and former chief of Obstetrics in the Hospital of Andarai [Rio de Janeiro], in which I served for 35 years until I retired in order to dedicate myself to the Diaconate, and having delivered 4,524 babies, many from juvenile [mothers], I never had to resort to an abortion to ‘save lives’, as well as all my colleagues, sincere and honest in their profession and faithful to their Hippocratic oath. …”

5. The affirmation [in the article] that the fact was made public in the newspapers only because the Archbishop of Olinda and Recife rushed to declare the excommunication is false. It suffices to notice that the case was made public in Alagoinha on Wednesday, February 25; the Archbishop made his pronouncement to the press on March 3; and the abortion was performed on March 4. It would be too much to imagine that the Brazilian press, before a fact of such gravity, would have silenced during the period of six days. Therefore, the news of the pregnant girl (“Carmen”) was made public in the newspapers before the consummation of the abortion. Only after that, when asked by journalists, on March 3 (Tuesday), the Archbishop mentioned canon 1398. We are convinced that the disclosure of this therapeutic penalty (the excommunication) will do much good to many Catholics, making them avoid this grievous sin. The silence of the Church would be very prejudicial, especially considering that fifty million abortions are being performed every year around the world, and in Brazil alone one million innocent lives are ended. The silence may be interpreted as collusion or complicity. If any doctor has a “perplexed conscience” [as the article says] before performing an abortion (which seems extremely improbable to us), he should – if he is a Catholic and wishes to follow the law of God – seek a spiritual director.

6. The article is, in other words, a direct attack of the defense of the lives of the three children vehemently made by Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho and leaves evident how much the author does not have the necessary data or information to speak on the matter, due to his utter ignorance of the facts. The text may be interpreted as an apologia of abortion, violating the Magisterium of the Church. The abortionist doctors were not in the moral crossroads mentioned by the text; on the contrary, they performed the abortion with full knowledge and coherence with what they believe and teach. The hospital in which the abortion on the little girl was performed is one of those in which this procedure is always performed in our state, under the cover of “legality”. The doctors who acted as executioners of the twins declared, and still declare in the national media, that they did what they are used to doing “with great pride”. One of them declared even that: “Then, I have been excommunicated many times”.

7. The author believed he could speak about [a situation] he did not know, and, what is worse, he did not even have the trouble of first speaking to his brother in the episcopate, and, for his imprudent attitude, he is causing great scandal among the Catholic faithful in Brazil who are believing that Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho was rash in his pronouncements. Instead of seeking his brother in the episcopate, he chose to believe in our openly Anti-clerical press.

Recife-PE, March 16, 2009

Fr. Cícero Ferreira de Paula
Chancellor – Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife

Mons. Edvaldo Bezerra da Silva
Vicar General – Archdiocese of Olinda e Recife

Fr Moisés Ferreira de Lima
Rector of the Archdiocesan Seminary

Dr. Márcio Miranda
Attorney for the Archdiocese of Olinda e Recife

Fr. Edson Rodrigues
Parish priest of Alagoinha-PE – Diocese of Pesqueira

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As we may easily see, from the map on the bottom of the column, some of our visistor have their ip’s pointing to many, many places around the globe, specially the western Europe and the United States of America, to whom this first english written post is addressed. I cannot guarantee at all  any frequence on these posts, for my english — as you all may see — isn’t that great. Although, i found myself in trouble when I was trying to translate the letter sent to Mr. Obama by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and signed by Msr. Francis Cardinal George, bishop of Chicago and president of this conference, as I didn’t want to compromize the meaning of any word, so i thought that this was a good chance to a post in this blog to welcome the english speakers (and non-portuguese speakers as well), so welcome!

Great words were said by the conference, and I hope that we all can learn something about courage and the will to propagate the catholic faith and the will to extend the kingdom of Christ on earth. Before quoting the letter in integrum, I felt free to highlight some parts, as will you see. Sorry for my poor english. Feel free to correct any word or sentence.  Let us just say that the american people can be proud of their Conference of Bishops. May  each one of them say, when the time comes: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”

Here’s the letter: [ the original]

As our nation begins a new year, a new Administration and a new Congress, I write to outline principles and priorities that guide the public policy efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). As President of the Bishops’ Conference, I assure you of our prayers, hopes and commitment to make this period of national change a time to advance the common good and defend the life and dignity of all, especially the vulnerable and poor. We continue to seek ways to work constructively with the new Administration and Congress and others of good will to pursue policies which respect the dignity of all human life and bring greater justice to our nation and peace to our world.

As Bishops, we approach public policy as pastors and teachers. Our moral principles have always guided our everyday experience in caring for the hungry and homeless, offering health care and housing, educating children and reaching out to those in need. We lead the largest community of faith in the United States, one that serves every part of our nation and is present in almost every place on earth. From our experience and our tradition, we offer a distinctive, constructive and principled contribution to the national dialogue on how to act together on issues of economic turmoil and suffering, war and violence, moral decency and human dignity.

Our nation now faces economic challenges with potentially tragic human consequences and serious moral dimensions. We will work with the new Administration and Congress to support strong, prudent and effective measures to address the terrible impacts and injustices of the economic crisis. In particular, we will advocate a clear priority for poor families and vulnerable workers in the development and implementation of economic recovery measures, including new investments while strengthening the national safety net. We also support greater accountability and oversight to address irresponsible abuses of the system that contributed to the financial crisis.

The Catholic Bishops of the United States have worked for decades to assure health care for all, insisting that access to decent health care is a basic human right and a requirement of human dignity. We urge comprehensive action to ensure truly universal health care coverage which protects all human life including pre-natal life, and provides access for all, with a special concern for the poor. Any such legislation ought to respect freedom to choose by offering a variety of options and ensuring respect for the moral and religious convictions of patients and providers. Such an approach should seek to restrain costs while sharing them equitably.

In closing, I renew our expression of hope and our offer of cooperation as you begin this new period of service to our nation in these challenging times. We promise our prayers for you, that the days ahead will be a time of renewal and progress for our nation and that we can work together to defend human life and dignity and build a nation of greater justice and a world at peace.

Nonetheless, we offer this outline as an agenda for dialogue and action. We hope to offer a constructive and principled contribution to national discussion over the values and policies that will shape our nation’s future. We seek to work together with our nation’s leaders to advance the common good of our society, while disagreeing respectfully and civilly where necessary for preserving that same common good.

On international affairs, we will work with our leaders to seek a responsible transition in an Iraq free of religious persecution. We especially urge early, focused and persistent leadership to bring an end to violent conflict and a just peace in the Holy Land. We will continue to support essential U.S. investments to overcome poverty, hunger and disease through increased and reformed foreign assistance. Continued U.S. leadership in the fight against HIV-AIDS and other diseases in ways that are both effectively and morally appropriate have our enthusiastic backing. Recognizing the complexity of climate change, we wish to be a voice for the poor and vulnerable in our country and around the world who will be the most adversely affected by any dramatic threats to the environment.

We will work with the new Administration and Congress to fix a broken immigration system which harms both our nation and immigrants. Comprehensive reform is needed to deal with the economic and human realities of millions of immigrants in our midst. It must be based on respect for and implementation of the law. Equally it must defend the rights and dignity of all peoples, recognizing that human dignity comes from God and does not depend on where people were born or how they came to our nation. Truly comprehensive immigration reform will include a path to earned citizenship with attention to the fact that international trade and development policies influence economic opportunities in the countries from which immigrants come.

We stand firm in our support for marriage which is a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman and must remain such in law. In a manner unlike any other relationship, marriage makes a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the common good of society, especially through the procreation and education of children. No other kinds of personal relationships can be justly made equivalent to the commitment of a man and a woman in marriage.

With regard to the education of children, we will continue to support initiatives which provide resources for all parents, especially those of modest means, to choose education which best address the needs of their children.

We welcome continuing commitments to empower faith-based groups as effective partners in overcoming poverty and other threats to human dignity. We will work with the Administration and Congress to strengthen these partnerships in ways that do not encourage government to abandon its responsibilities, and do not require religious groups to abandon their identity and mission.

Most fundamentally, we will work to protect the lives of the most vulnerable and voiceless members of the human family, especially unborn children and those who are disabled or terminally ill. We will consistently defend the fundamental right to life from conception to natural death. Opposed to abortion as the direct killing of innocent human life, we will encourage one and all to seek common ground that will reduce the number of abortions in morally sound ways that affirm the dignity of pregnant women and their unborn children. We will oppose legislative and other measures to expand abortion. We will work to retain essential, widely supported policies which show respect for unborn life, protect the conscience rights of health care providers and other Americans, and prevent government funding and promotion of abortion. The Hyde amendment and other provisions which for many years have prevented federal funding of abortion have a proven record of reducing abortions. Efforts to force Americans to fund abortions with their tax dollars would pose a serious moral challenge and jeopardize the passage of essential health care reform.

This outline of USCCB policies and priorities is not complete. There are many other areas of concern and advocacy for the Church and the USCCB especially: religious freedom and other civil and human rights, news media and communications, and issues of war and peace. For a more detailed description of our concerns please see Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (USCCB 2008), pages 19-30

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