Friday, November 18, 2011

Canon expert criticizes Colombian priest's abortion support / HLI President: “Absolutely No Justification for Abortion in Catholic Teaching”


Bogotá, Colombia, Nov 18, 2011 / 09:09 am (CNA).- The tribunal judge of the Archdiocese of Lima, Peru, Father Luis Gaspar, recently criticized Colombian priest Fr. Carlos Novoa's statements justifying abortion.

He called on Fr. Novoa to live and think like a Catholic minister, because “you cannot serve God and the devil.”

Fr. Gaspar’s comments came in response to the Colombian priest’s arguments in support of the legalization of abortion using passages from John Paul II’s encyclical, “Evangelium Vitae.”

In statements to CNA, Fr. Gaspar denounced Fr. Novoa’s claim that “as a priest” one could not support the ruling by Colombia’s constitutional court that legalized abortion in three cases, but that “as a citizen” the ruling is “acceptable.”

“How can a brother in the priestly ministry make such an impossible distinction?” asked Fr. Gaspar. “ He says: ‘As a priest … but as a citizen ...’ No Catholic priest should act, think or live in any other way except as a Catholic priest. Either the priestly ministry imbues his entire being, or in some way he is being unfaithful to the ministry he has received.

“God forbid I should ever talk to anyone as citizen and not as a priest,” Fr. Gaspar continued.

He noted that the Church’s teaching on abortion as outlined in paragraphs 2270-2273 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church remains unchanged and is permanent. Likewise, he added, the Code of Canon Law stipulates that the penalty for procuring an abortion is automatic excommunication.

In the specific case of Fr. Novoa, he added, “the competent ecclesiastical authority should intervene. First the Superior General of the Jesuits in Colombia and the bishop of the diocese in which this priest carries out his priestly ministry.”

“When a religious ‘causes grave scandal by obstinately defending or spreading teachings condemned by the Magisterium of the Church,’ the canonical penalties could include expulsion from his religious congregation, removal of faculties for hearing confessions and of the canonical mandate needed for teaching at a Catholic university,” Fr. Gaspar warned.

The director of the Latin American office of the Population Research Institute, Carlos Polo, also criticized Fr. Novoa's comments. “The only thing that will result from the legalization of abortion is the death of more children and more abuse of distressed women, who suffer irreparable harm from abortion,” he said.

Polo added that Fr. Novoa “should be quiet and leave those who deal with women who are suffering alone.”

“A woman who has an unexpected pregnancy and is in need of support and affection,” he said.

HLI President: “Absolutely No Justification for Abortion in Catholic Teaching”

Dozens of young people in Columbia organized a protest outside of the Pontifical Xavierian University in Bogota on Saturday in reaction to the anti-life statements of a Catholic priest who teaches at the university.

Father Carlos Novoa, S.J. has recently given several statements to the media falsely repeating that abortion is permissible under certain conditions. In making his argument, he presents his personal interpretation of such documents as the encyclical, Evangelium vitae, certain documents from Vatican II and the code of canon law.

“It is very disappointing and frustrating to see people who have received formation as Jesuits not defending the message of Christ and the principles for which St. Ignatius of Loyola fought his entire life,” said one of the student protestors.

“The statements by Fr. Novoa have been very damaging to the Church because they contradict the messages that have been part of the magisterium and tradition of the Church throughout history which Pope Benedict XVI has also defended,” another student taking part in the protest said. “When a priest goes contradicts this message in the media, he is confusing the faithful. This attitude must be counteracted with courage and rigor.”

The Catholic News Agency reported that the protestors signed a petition calling on the rector of the university, Father Joaquin Sanchez Garcia, the bishops of Colombia, the nunciature and Fr. Novoa himself to clarify the position of the Church on the defense of life from conception to natural death.

Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International, issued the following statement today in hopes of correcting Fr. Novoa’s misrepresentation of Catholic teaching on the dignity of human life:

“While it is the duty and responsibility of every priest, and all children of Christ, to faithfully proclaim the true teachings of our Lord and the Catholic Church, sadly there are some who mislead the faithful. According to news reports, Fr. Novoa has repeatedly expressed support for abortion in certain circumstances, which violates the duty of the faithful to protect life from conception to natural death. In doing so, he has also reportedly misrepresented the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II. To be clear, there is absolutely no justification for abortion in Church teaching, and any Catholic, even a priest, who says differently separates himself from the Church in doing so. We must reiterate the Church’s teaching as it relates to the indefensible statements of Fr. Novoa.

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, ‘Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception…Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.’

“The words of Blessed Pope John Paul II were made clear in Evangelium vitae that believers in Christ are called to defend and promote the sacred value of human life:

[E]very person sincerely open to truth and goodness can, by the light of reason and the hidden action of grace, come to recognize in the natural law written in the heart the sacred value of human life from its very beginning until its end, and can affirm the right of every human being to have this primary good respected to the highest degree…believers in Christ must defend and promote this right.

“We expect Fr. Novoa’s superiors and his bishop to clarify the Church’s teaching to Fr. Novoa, and take appropriate action, before this scandal grows further out of control,” said Fr. Boquet.