Time to end the moral maze

I WOULD not normally step into the intense world of religious doctrine, but when it impacts on a nine year-old rape victim, it becomes properly a matter for public discussion.

Graham Dines

I WOULD not normally step into the intense world of religious doctrine, but when it impacts on a nine year-old rape victim, it becomes properly a matter for public discussion. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Olinda and Recife in Brazil, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, has excommunicated doctors for performing an abortion on a child who conceived twins after being allegedly raped by her stepfather.

The Vatican has become embroiled in the controversy, with Archbishop Rino Fisichella - who heads the Pontifical Academy for Life - expressing concern at the decision while Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re - who is in charge of the Roman Catholic Church's Congregation for Bishops and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America - insists Sobrinho had been right to excommunicate the mother and doctors.

“It is a sad case,” said Re “but the real problem is that the twins conceived were two innocent persons, who had the right to live and could not be eliminated.”

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Sobrinho insists the law of God is above any human law. But in a refreshingly brave intervention, Fisichella argues: “Before thinking about excommunication, it was necessary and urgent to save her innocent life and bring her back to a level of humanity of which we men of the church should be expert and masters in proclaiming.”

The girl “should have been above all defended, embraced, treated with sweetness to make her feel that we were all on her side, all of us, without distinction.”

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The Vatican has steadfastly refused to sanction abortion, even if the victim's life is endangered by giving birth or the victim is the subject of a brutal attack. I beg to differ - it's irrational that celibate men can pontificate on the right to life versus the right to choose - or in this case, the right to protect life and to rescue a victim of crime.

If Fisichella is prepared to lead a debate on whether the civil law should take precedence over religious dogma, then it opens the possibility of the Catholic Church taking a mature and humane stance in which the victim is put first. However, it may need a pontiff different from Pope Benedict XVI to put the wheels in motion.

A COALITION of MPs, trade unions, business leaders, pensioner and pressure groups called today for a Post Bank to be set up as part of moves to strengthen the Royal Mail. Politicians from the main parties will join a Parliamentary reception today to launch the proposal to provide more financial services to people and businesses not served by high street lenders.

It's claimed a Post Bank would boost the post office network, create new jobs and secure the organisation's future. Sounds familiar? - of course, it was called Giro Bank which was recklessly flogged off by the Tories to Alliance and Leicester.

IN the past decade or so, Britain has gone a long way down the path of equality and tolerance. Which is why I don't think the Gavin and Stacey film Lesbian Vampire Killers, which goes on general release this Friday, will go down too well!

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