Magazine article Conscience

Brazilian President Makes Prochoice Comments on Eve of Pope's Visit

Magazine article Conscience

Brazilian President Makes Prochoice Comments on Eve of Pope's Visit

Article excerpt

ON THE EVE OF THE FIRST visit to Brazil by Pope Benedict XVI President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva went on several Catholic-sponsored radio stations to argue that "the state needs to treat [abortion] as question of public health."

Abortion is illegal in Brazil, and some estimates suggest that there are more than 1 million illegal abortions each year. Recent estimates also indicate that 1.2 million women have been hospitalized in the past five years due to complications following illegal abortions. "If we had a good process of family planning and sex education, possibly we would not have the number of unwanted pregnancies that we have today," Lula said.

In related news, controversial comments that the pope made en route to Brazil were initially tempered by a spokesman and then miraculously expunged from the official record the next day.

When asked about a recent vote in favor of abortion by the Mexico City legislature, the pope seemed to rubber-stamp the excommunication of Roman Catholic politicians who had voted in favor of the move.

His spokesman initially clarified these comments, suggesting instead that the politicians had in effect excommunicated themselves and could not receive Communion. However, the final transcript was altered to change the meaning completely, making it appear as if the comments were more general and did not refer to any specific incidents.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

During the flight, Benedict was asked if he supported the excommunication of a number of Catholic politicians in Mexico who had voted in favor of changing the city laws to permit abortion. "Yes, this excommunication is not something arbitrary," he replied. The final transcript removed "Yes, this," so that the sentence began, "Excommunication is...."

The pope's initial comments would suggest a change in church law, which does not appear to support the position that Catholic politicians who vote in favor of prochoice legislation face a canonical punishment. …

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