Pope: Excommunication for pro-abortion politicians?

The majority of the media have this Pope pegged for dull, and so they don’t cover him either closely or accurately.

Thus, they leap to their Corona’s only when they can sex-up a byline.

How’s this?

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) —  —  Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday he supports the excommunication of politicians who legalized abortion in Mexico City, laying down a strong message about core church teachings at the start of his first trip to Latin America as pontiff.

One wonders what the Pope really said and how long it will take the papal spokesman to issue a clarification.

Here is some of the the rest of the AP story, via FOX (edited and with my emphasis).

    Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday he supports the excommunication of politicians who legalized abortion in Mexico City, laying down a strong message about core church teachings at the start of his first trip to Latin America as pontiff.

    Church teaching calls for automatic excommunication for anyone who has an abortion. [Okay… so far, that wasn’t the Pope…] In Mexico City, where abortion was legalized during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, church officials have said that doctors and nurses who perform the procedure, as well as lawmakers who supported its legalization, also would be excommunicated.

    "It’s nothing new, it’s normal, it wasn’t arbitrary. It is what is foreseen by the church’s doctrine," Benedict told reporters aboard a plane to Brazil in his first full-fledged news conference as pope.  [Yes… but what else did he say about it?]

    Benedict previously hadn’t explicitly said [Did he here?] excommunication would be the penalty for any lawmaker voting for abortion. In fact, the Vatican has sidestepped the issue of whether Communion can be denied to a Catholic politician who has supported abortion rights legislation.  [Alas…]

    Benedict also said the exodus of Catholics for evangelical Protestant churches in Latin America was "our biggest worry."  [Wait… did they just lose the headline???]

    But he said the spread of Protestantism shows a "thirst for God" in the region, and that he intends to lay down a strategy to answer that call when he meets with bishops from throughout Latin America in a once-a-decade meeting in the shrine city of Aparecida near Sao Paulo.

    "We have to become more dynamic," he said. Evangelical churches, which the Vatican considers "sects," have attracted millions of Latin American Catholics in recent years.

    The Vatican also has promised that Benedict will deliver a tough message on poverty and crime during his five-day visit to Brazil — the world’s most populous Roman Catholic country.

    Benedict’s predecessor, John Paul II, visited Mexico and addressed Latin American bishops just three months after assuming the papacy. Benedict has waited two years for his first trip to a region where nearly half the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics live. But he denied being "Eurocentric" or less concerned about poverty in the developing world than his predecessors.

    "I love Latin America. I have traveled there a lot," he told reporters, adding that he is happy the time had come for the trip after focusing on more urgent problems in the Middle East and Africa.

    Benedict, who visited Brazil as then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1990, will celebrate several open-air Masses, including a canonization ceremony for Brazil’s first native-born saint, and visit a church-run drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.

    Many Brazilians are torn between the church’s traditional teachings and the pressures of the modern world, and abortion is at the forefront. The procedure is illegal in Brazil except in cases of rape or when the mother’s life is in danger. These cases amount to just 2,000 abortions a year, and polls show Brazilians are overwhelmingly opposed to expanding it.

    Some 5,000 people — both Catholics and Protestants — marched against abortion Tuesday in the capital of Brasilia. Similar marches were held in Mexico, where the capital’s legislature legalized abortion last month.

    The Mexican politicians who supported the measure shrugged off Benedict’s comments Wednesday: "I’m Catholic and I’m going to continue being Catholic even if the church excommunicates me," said leftist Mexico City lawmaker Leticia Quezada. "My conscience is clean."

    Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will meet with the pope in Sao Paulo, but a spokesman said the center-left leader does not plan to bring up abortion or other sensitive issues, such as a government anti-AIDS program that distributes millions of condoms each year.

    The pope also faces some opposition from within the Brazilian church, where liberation theology — which links spiritual growth to human rights — is still active among thousands of groups working with poor and landless communities.

    Benedict said those who follow liberation theology were "mistakenly mixing faith and politics," but stressed that the church has not eased its commitment to social justice.

    As John Paul’s close aide, Benedict led a campaign against what the Vatican considers a Marxist-inspired movement. The Vatican set the tone for this trip by censuring the Rev. Jon Sobrino, a prominent champion of liberation theology in the region, and condemning some of his works as "erroneous or dangerous."

    On another topic dear to the region, Benedict said he believed the beatification process for slain El Salvador Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero was moving ahead. Romero was gunned down on March 24, 1980, a day after calling on the Salvadoran military to halt its repressive tactics.

    Benedict called Romero a "great witness to the Catholic faith" and praised him for standing up to dictatorship.

    Despite the abortion issue and inroads by evangelical groups, Vatican officials say the church’s scorecard in Latin America is not entirely bleak.

    A study released in Brazil this week indicates that the flight from the Catholic church stabilized from 2000 to 2003, even though the ranks of Protestants continued to grow.

    And on abortion, the Vatican points to countries such as Nicaragua which last year banned the procedure in all cases.

    The May 9-14 pilgrimage is Benedict’s first lengthy trip as pope.

    Although he appears healthy and has never missed a scheduled event, he said in an interview last year that "I’ve never felt strong enough to plan many long trips."

    Except for a stop in Turkey, Benedict’s travels have been confined to Europe. The only other trip scheduled this year is to nearby Austria.

Okay… they sexed up the headline, but in the balance the comment was really interesting.

I wonder if any bishops in the wealthy North, a different planet from the Latin South, will take courage from His Holiness’ remark?

UPDATE: So what did the Pope say?  Is there a fuller quote of the Pope in response to the original question?

Yes, this excommunication was not an arbitrary one but is allowed by Canon law which says that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving Communion, which is receiving the body of Christ.

Going on the Pope spoke about pro-abortion Catholic politicians: 

Selfishness and fear are at the root of (pro-abortion) legislation. 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.

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    • UPDATE: The spokesman, Fr. Lombardi, was right on the spot, it seems:

    From Alessandro Gisotti of Vatican Radio:

    To a question about politicians in Mexico who supported the law to decriminalize abortion, the Pope underscored the necessity of coherence for Christian politicians, repeating that the Church announces the Gospel of life: “Life is a gift, not a threat.”

    The director of the Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi [who just happens also to be the director of Vatican Radio] commenting on some news flashes about the Pope’s response clarified that since no excommunication was declared on the part of the Mexican bishops neither did the Pope mean to declare one. The legislative action favoring abortion, Fr. Lombardi said, is not compatible with participation in the Eucharist. “So are they excommunicated?” he was asked: “No”, Fr. Lombardi clarified, “they have excluded themselves from Communion.”

    “‘Ma sono dunque scomunicati?’, gli e’ stato chiesto: “No – ha precisato padre Lombardi – si autoescludono dalla Comunione”.

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