You may recall the heartbreaking story of a 9-year-old Brazilian girl who was repeatedly raped by her stepfather and consequently became pregnant. The child had been sexually abused since the age of six. A medical team in Brazil's northeastern city of Recife performed a therapeutic abortion on the girl, who was four months pregnant. She was carrying twins. Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho, impervious to the family's suffering, stepped in and promptly excommunicated the girl's mother, the Ob/Gyn, and the entire medical team involved in the procedure. He did NOT excommunicate the child's abuser, arguing that the rape of a child was regrettable - but having an abortion was much, much worse. A conference of Brazilian bishops eventually reversed Sobrino's mass excommunications - but now that reversal has been overruled by the Supreme Pontiff is Rome.
His "Holiness" Pope Benedict XVI has taken the side of Archbishop Sobrinho in this sad case, condemning the mother and everyone associated with the abortion to hell. PZ Myers writes on Pharyngula: We now have an official document from the Catholic church clearly stating their position. Anyone involved in an abortion for any reason is to be automatically excommunicated, no exceptions. They've actually hardened their position. That includes nine-year old children raped by their stepfather. It includes any doctors who act on sympathy for a maltreated child. Of course, all the rapist has to do is demand that his victim bear his child, and he will be welcomed in the bosom of the holy church. The church is standing firm on principle.
The Pope's own Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued this statement: "Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Catholic Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. (In Vaticanese, that means you get to suffer for all eternity.) The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. (Except, apparently, for sexually abused youngsters.) 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."
Progressive Catholics may shake their heads and sigh over the pope's intractable position. They might even concede that they don't agree with every single aspect of Church dogma. But the fact remains - each time somebody drops a dollar into that velvet-lined collection basket, they're not only adding to the vast wealth of the Catholic Church, they're supporting a religious institution that values the soul of a child rapist over the health of a little girl that suffered at his hands.