Benedict backs excommunication for pro-abortion pollies

Speaking to reporters on his way to Brazil, Pope Benedict has backed Mexican bishops who have threatened excommunication for parliamentarians who voted to legalise abortion in Mexico City.

The Age reports that the Pope was responding to a reporter's question whether he supported Mexican Church leaders threatening to excommunicate leftist parliamentarians who last month voted to legalise abortion in Mexico City.

"Yes, this excommunication was not an arbitrary one but is allowed by Canon (church) law which says that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving communion, which is receiving the body of Christ," he said.

"They (Mexican Church leaders) did nothing new, surprising or arbitrary. They simply announced publicly what is contained in the law of the Church... which expresses our appreciation for life and that human individuality, human personality is present from the first moment (of life)".

Under Church law, someone who knowingly does or backs something which the Church considers a grave sin, such as abortion, inflicts what is known as "automatic excommunication" on themselves.

The Pope said parliamentarians who vote in favour of abortion have "doubts about the value of life and the beauty of life and even a doubt about the future".

"Selfishness and fear are at the root of (pro-abortion) legislation," he said. "We in the Church have a great struggle to defend life...life is a gift not a threat."

"The Church says life is beautiful, it is not something to doubt but it is a gift even when it is lived in difficult circumstances. It is always a gift," the Pope said.

Lifesite News reports that the Archbishop of Acapulco, Felipe Aguirre Franco, had earlier said of politicians who support the legalization of abortion: "They will get the penalty of excommunication. That is not revenge, it is just what happens in the case of serious sins."

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi later told reporters that the politicians who voted for abortion had automatically excommunicated themselves by their actions.

Liberation Theology "millenarism"

In other comments during the flight, Pope Benedict also characterised liberation theology as a sort of "Millenarism" that would find no justification in today's Latin America, especially before the great social concern the Church manifests today, Catholic News reports.

Pope Benedict added that "the mission of the Church is a religious one, However, it is open to solutions to the great social problems".

"There is always space for a legitimate debate on how to create the conditions for Man's liberation and how to make effective the doctrine of the Church on giving Man the human and social conditions, through which values can grow," the pope said.

But he said that "the situation has greatly changed from when the Liberation Theology started".

"It's obvious that the light promises that made believe that through revolution, the conditions for a fulfilled life could be reached, were false.

"Everybody is aware of that now, and the question now is how does the Church can still be present in the struggle for justice. On this point, theologians and sociologists diverge," he concluded.

Pope warns politicians who back abortion (The Age, 10/5/07)
Pope Supports Excommunication for Pro-Abortion Politicians - "Incompatible with Receiving Communion" (Lifesite News, 9/5/07)
Benedict XVI: Liberation Theology was mere "millenarism" that would have no justification today. (Catholic News, 9/5/07)
Pope's visit sparks rallies in Brazil (The Age, 10/5/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Roman Catholicism in Brazil (Wikipedia)
Catholic Church in Brazil (Catholic Hierarchy)
Catholic Bishops Conference of Brazil
Liberation theology (Wikipedia)
Millenarianism (Wikipedia)

Sobrino case sparks call for CDF reform (CathNews, 8/5/07)
Pope prepares for Brazil (CathNews, 3/5/07)

Brazil's Lula says abortion issue cannot be ignored (Reuters Alertnet, 8/5/07)

10 May 2007