AMERICA/COLOMBIA - “The Catholic Church will never stop fighting for life, its opinion will never change” says president of Bishops’ Conference in reply to a campaign to discredit the Catholic Church

Monday, 11 September 2006

Bogota (Agenzia Fides) - In response to criticism from some sectors of society of the local Catholic Church’s opposition to allow an abortion to be practised on a minor a statement was issued by the standing committee of the Colombian Bishops’ Conference at the end of a plenary meeting 8 and 9 September. In the statement the president of the Conference Archbishop Augusto Castro Quiroga of Tunja said "the Catholic Church will never stop fighting for life, it will never change its opinion”; it has a duty to "help the faithful distinguish between civil and moral law ". The statement deals with three main questions: de-penalisation of abortion, objection of conscience and excommunication.
The Bishops are deeply concerned with regard to the abortionist mentality revealed in a sentence issued by the Constitutional Court recommending legislators to extend cases in which abortion is not punishable. They are also concerned with regard to the distinction "between life as a good constitutionally protected and the right to life as a fundamental subjective right ".
The Bishops say "civil law can never replace conscience or dictate norms which overstep the duty to guarantee the common good by means of recognition and protection of the basic rights of the people ". Therefore objection of conscience "is a natural right for all citizens, to use when the law foresees actions which are against the person’s ethic, political or religious beliefs". The Bishops say people who have recourse to objection of conscience must not be penalised. The Bishops also laud "the courage of doctors, judges and medical staff who have recourse to Objection of Conscience and refuse to practice abortion".
The statement recalls that the "the Church’s Code of Canon Law establishes a series of punishments to prevent and punish certain serious actions by baptised Catholics. These punishments include "excommunication", for anyone who "Can. 1398 A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication". With this punishment the Church intends to "call the attention of baptised Catholics to the gravity of abortion and prevent the crime from being committed".
"We are confident - the Bishops conclude - that despite the confusion created by abortionist proposals and the campaign to discredit the Church, Catholics will continue to understand the reasons for our firm position in favour of life". (RG) (Agenzia Fides 11/9/2006; righe 32, parole 432)