I had intended today to write a longer, more reflective piece on issues discrimination.  But then I came across an article describing behaviour so unfathomably egregious that it almost literally defies human understanding.  This is material so unbelievable that one could almost imagine that it was invented by the (non-existent) World Atheist Conspiracy to discredit religious organisations.  And so, the reflective piece will have to wait, as I relate this sad and outrageous story.

It can be found on the BBC web site here

This is the story of a nine year old girl, in Brasil, who was raped by her stepfather.  It would appear that this abuse had gone on since she was six.

This time, the girl became pregnant with twins.  At that age, any attempt to carry the pregnancy to term would have resulted in the girl’s death.  To save her daughter’s life, the mother authorised a doctor to perform an abortion.  It should be noted that, in view of the girl’s youth, the twin foetus’ would not have survived either had an attempt been made to carry them to term.

The Church, for once acting with a swiftness unusual in a child abuse case, immediately excommunicated the mother and the doctor.

Yes.  They excommunicated a woman who authorised a surgeon to save the life of her nine year old daughter who had been raped.

(To add insult to outrage, the Church also indicated that they had no intention of excommunicating the rapist).

The Church states that the twins should have been allowed to live.  Which, of course, they would not have anyway.

Even if one accepts the Church’s view that abortion is equivalent to murder, it should be pointed out that the Church has no policy whatsoever of excommunicating murderers.  Jails are full of men guilty of multiple murders, committed not to save the lives of nine year olds, but to sell more drugs, run more under-age prostitutes or sell more weapons to genocidal warlords.  None have been excommunicated. The torturers in the Argentinian or Chilean armies who killed hundreds of leftists in the 70′s, usually after raping the women and torturing the men, are almost all professed catholics.  To Voltaire’s knowledge, not a single one has been excommunicated.

Voltaire has his own views on abortion but they are not really relevant to this debate.  To understand what is relevant to this debate, I turn to an eminent authority: His Holiness the Pope, Benedict XVI.  I will take the liberty to quote from the Lenten Sermon he preached this year. (The full text can be found here.)

Speaking of Christian values, he said:

“If we cultivate this way of seeing others as our brothers and sisters, solidarity, justice, mercy and compassion will naturally well up in our hearts. ”

Mercy and compassion.

Father Lawrence Murphy admitted abusing over 200 deaf boys. When some in the Church sought to defrock him he wrote to the man who is now Pope:

“I simply want to live out the time that I have left in the dignity of my priesthood,” Father Murphy wrote near the end of his life to Cardinal Ratzinger. “I ask your kind assistance in this matter.” (see NY Times)

The Church showed Father Murphy mercy and compassion.  He was neither excommunicated nor defrocked.

Sister Maria Gomez Valbuena was part of group of Spanish nurses and doctors who stole babies.  When they disapproved of the new born’s mother, they told the woman her baby had died then sold the baby to the highest bidder.(see BBC)

The Church showed Sister Maria mercy and compassion.  She was not excommunicated, she is still a nun.

Father Karadima of Chile was found guilty by the Church of abusing minors. But in consideration of his age, the Vatican deemed it appropriate to impose on the accused his retirement to a life of prayer and penitence.  Only if he breaches the terms of his retirement would the Church consider defrocking him. (see NY Times)

In consideration of his age, the Church showed Father Karadima mercy and compassion.  He was neither excommunicated nor defrocked.

But there are limits to the Church’s mercy.  There are limits to its compassion.

Those limits appear to have been reached this week in Brasil.  No mercy or compassion can possibly be extended to a woman who allows a doctor to save the life of her nine year old child who was raped.

 

 

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Cardinal Brady: religious exceptionalism in action

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Bankers have received a lot of criticism recently.  But I would like to tell you the story of Sir John H., a very senior banker, now the CEO of a major UK based international bank.  He has been at the bank for seventeen years and spent most of those in the Legal Department.  He is [...]

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Why be a nasty atheist when you could be a nice agnostic?

March 28, 2012

  You often hear atheists described as “fanatics” or “militants” – basically the kind of unreasonable bigoted person you do not want to invite to dinner parties or be seen with at the bar.  You get told that nice people are “agnostics” – the kind of open minded, reasonable people who want your child to [...]

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Why another atheist blog?

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  Why did I set off to write this blog? As with most bloggers, I suspect, my psychological motives were mixed: vanity maybe, arrogance that you have something to say the world is dying to hear. But also passion and a desire to share that passion.  In cases of blogs like this, anger too and [...]

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Books to read

March 17, 2012

To be written

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