My original letter was as follows:
My name is Jocelyn. I was baptized at St. Michael's Catholic Church. I received my First Communion at St. Joseph Catholic Church. I was Confirmed at St. Philip Catholic Church. In short, I am Catholic.Here's the response I got. You'll notice that it is not from the Archbishop:
I have not always agreed with the Vatican on every issue, but I have always been proud to be Catholic. I have always been proud of my Church, the work that we do, and the members we claim. I have always believed us to be a strong and good-hearted group of people.
It is for this reason that I am so hurt by what has happened over the last few days in Brazil. As you are undoubtedly aware, a nine-year-old girl became pregnant by her step-father, who admitted that he had been sexually abusing her since she was six years old. Her doctors determined that continuing with the pregnancy would be very dangerous for an 80 pound 9-year-old, and so she got an abortion. The Catholic Church in Brazil then proceeded to raise all hell and excommunicated the girl's mother and the doctors who performed the abortion. As far as I know, the step-father is still a member of the Church.
I want to make it very clear that I believe giving this girl an abortion was absolutely the right thing to do. I believe it is morally reprehensible to ask a child that age to give birth, particularly when her health would be at risk in doing so. I believe the Catholic Church is absolutely wrong to deny membership to these Doctors, who all took an oath vowing to "do no harm." Therefore, I believe it stands to reason that I should be excommunicated as well. If these people are murderers for saving this child's life, then I am a murderer for agreeing with them.
Thank you for your time. God bless you.
Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, has asked me to respond to your email of Friday, March 20, 2009, sent to him via the Holy Rosary Cathedral.
I would like to begin by saying that I hear and feel the enormous sense of pain that you are experiencing as a result of the tragic story of the nine-year girl in Brazil who underwent an abortion.
As I am not aware of all of the factors that led to the excommunication of the girl's mother, I am not able to offer an opinion from a canonical perspective on this case.
However, I might point out that according to Canon 1318, the censure of excommunication is only to be imposed with the greatest moderation and only for graver delicts. Abortion is considered to be a grave delict. However, the penalty must be tempered or a penance employed in its place if the delict was committed in part due to a number of factors that are outlined in Canon 1324. One of these factors is a person who was coerced by grave fear, even if only relatively grave.
The fact that you do not agree with the decision about the excommunication of the girl's mother would not be grounds for your excommunication.
I have found that sometimes we are all confronted with situations in which we feel a deep sense of abandonment. Even our Lord prayed on the cross, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me." Pope Benedict XV1 has written in Deus Caritas, that Jesus was praying in the deepest sense to the Father during this horrific moment. We too sometimes find ourselves in situations in which prayer is the best and only realistic response to the situations we encounter. I would urge you to remain faithful in prayer for the Church, the little girl and her mother, and all who find themselves in moments of anguish. I believe this will help to build up the Body of Christ.
Sincerely in Christ,
Father Bruce McAllister