Catholic canon law expert Pete Vere sent me an interview he did with Zenit that addresses issues pertaining to abortion.
My own position is fairly well known: We should show compassion to the mothers who abort their children and excommunicate the politicians. For this reason I support stronger efforts to have pro-abortion Catholic politicians excommunicated or denied holy Communion. So, too, do many young canonists with whom I have spoken.
Canon 1398 is clear: "A person who actually procures an abortion incurs an automatic excommunication," the canon states. Abortion is intrinsically evil as an act, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church rightly teaches in paragraph 2271 that abortion "is gravely contrary to the moral law" and an "abominable crime."
My experience in ministry has taught me that most women who abort their child act under some sort of emotional, mental or psychological duress. I seldom come across an abortion that is freely chosen -- that is, chosen without coercion from some outside individual or organization.
It's extremely heartening to me to see that a canon law expert (a) perceives that his work is ministry and (b) is sensitive and well-informed on the street-level reality of abortion.
Thus, the diminishing and excusing factors outlined in canons 1323 and 1324 apply to most women who procure an abortion. In other words, the act is sinful but the women are spared the penalty of excommunication.
Yet, these women are not canonists. Alone and ashamed, the perception of excommunication only further drives them away from the Church. What they need is Christ's healing touch in the confessional, as well as sustained pastoral support from pro-life organizations such as Project Rachel.
My feelings differ towards those who profit -- whether financially or politically -- from abortion. This is where the Church ought to direct her censures. We need to get tough with Catholic politicians, doctors, pregnancy counselors, nurses and lawyers who continue to support and protect the abortion industry.
Oh, oh, oh. In many ways, I agree with this. In others, I don't. I'll be thinking more about how I feel about this. Readers?