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Brazil: Church in row over abortion for raped 9 year-old

 The leaders of the Brazilian Catholic Bishops' Conference (CNBB), who are currently meeting in Rome, issued a press statement yesterday expressing their 'deep regret' upon hearing the news of a 9-year-old who underwent an abortion last Wednesday on the twins she was expecting, after being raped by her stepfather.

The story has caused outrage across Brazil. The Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho has excommunicated the mother of the child and the doctors who performed the abortion.

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, who heads the Roman Catholic Church's Congregation for Bishops and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, said: "It is a sad case but the real problem is that the twins conceived were two innocent persons, who had the right to live and could not be eliminated. Life must always be protected, the attack on the Brazilian Church is unjustified."

Brazil only permits abortions in cases of rape or health risks to the mother. Doctors said the girl's case met both these conditions, but the Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho said "the law of God is above any human law".

In their statement the Bishops said: "The Church expresses her solidarity with this girl and with all children who are victims of such a brutal act, as well as their family members."

But they added: "the Church is always in favour of life, from conception until natural death."

"We live in a pluralist society, in which States are structured and governed by legislation that reflects the dominant culture and does not always respect ethical and natural principles."

"Thus, we cannot always identify what is procured by the law with ethic principles and moral values." For Catholics, the Bishops said, priority should always be given to the Lord's mandate: "You shall not kill."

The Bishops said they regretted the fact the crisis had not been handled with the necessary "tranquility, serenity, and time that the situation required."

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, himself a Catholic, said on Friday he regretted what he described as Archbishop Sobrinho's "deeply conservative" attitude.

"The doctors did what had to be done: save the life of a girl of nine years old," he said.

Source: Fides/BBN