Uruguay bishops clarify statement on excommunication of lawmakers favoring abortion

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The Uruguayan bishops’ conference has explained recent statements regarding Catholic lawmakers who voted to legalize abortion in the country, saying they are not excommunicated if they voted in favor of abortion.

“Excommunication applies to Catholics who have acted directly in carrying out an abortion, which does not include those who vote for a law that allows it,” Bishop Heriberto Bodeant, secretary general of the conference said.

In an Oct. 23 interview with Radio Carve, he clarified that excommunication would apply only to those who have performed an abortion and not those who voted to legalize the procedure in Uruguay.

“Automatic excommunication is for those who collaborate in the execution of an abortion in a direct way, and direct means committing that specific act,” the Bishops Conference explained on their website.

The conference said the need for clarification arose following Bishop Bodeant’s Oct. 19 comments when he was asked about excommunication in general and not about the excommunication of specific lawmakers who voted to legalize abortion.

According to the statement on the Uruguayan bishops’ website, “There was confusion after a television interview that took place the day after the Senate approved a measure that legalizes abortion, in which the bishop was asked about the question of excommunication in general terms and not specifically related to lawmakers.”

 “At no time during the interview did the bishop say that lawmakers were excommunicated, but rather he responded to a generic question about excommunication in cases of abortion based on Canon Law (Canon 1398), which states, ‘A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication,’” the statement said.

As a result, “it was an erroneous inference of the bishop’s words that led to the statement that ‘the Church excommunicated those who voted to legalize abortion,’ which was immediately reproduced by various national and international media outlets,” the conference statement said.

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