**On procured abortion
Clarification from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith**
Recently a number of letters have been sent to the Holy See, some of them from prominent figures in political and ecclesial life, explaining the confusion that has been created in various countries, especially in Latin America, following the manipulation and exploitation of an article by His Excellency Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, on the sad affair of the “Brazilian girl.”
In this article, which appeared in “L’Osservatore Romano” on March 15, 2009, the doctrine of the Church was presented, while still keeping in mind the dramatic situation of the aforementioned girl, who - as could be demonstrated afterward - had been accompanied with all pastoral delicacy, in particular by the archbishop of Olinda and Recife at the time, His Excellency Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho.
In this regard, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reiterates that the Church’s teaching on procured abortion has not changed, nor can it change.
This teaching has been presented in numbers 2270-2273 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in these terms:
«Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jer. 1:5). “My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth” (Psalm 139:15).
«Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion.
This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law: “You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish” (Didaché, 2:2). “God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes” (Vatican Council II, “Gaudium et Spes”, 51).
«Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,” (Code of Canon Law, can. 1398), “by the very commission of the offense” (Code of Canon Law, can. 1314) and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law (cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 1323-1324). The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.