by Luiz Sérgio Solimeo
On February 23 the Spanish parliament approved by a simple majority the new and controversial abortion law, which allows adolescents aged 16 and above to have abortions without parental consent. The new law, pushed by the Socialist government of José Luis Zapatero, also allows abortion to be performed up to the 14th week of pregnancy and up to 22 weeks if there is a serious risk to the life of the baby or the mother.
“History Repeats Itself”
Abortion had first been authorized by law in 1985 and sanctioned by the King. A great popular mobilization took place both then and now, first to prevent the parliament from passing these iniquitous laws and then to ask the King not to sanction them. Then as now, the law was passed and also sanctioned by the monarch (whose ancestors, for their fidelity to the Church were once given by the Holy See the title of Catholic Kings).
History repeats itself: Unfortunately, the attitude of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference remained one and the same. In fact, as in 1985, the Spanish episcopate merely made a few public statements, some of which were quite confusing, without taking any practical action to show their pastoral zeal. (On that occasion, however, there was an honorable exception that we will see below.)
“Where Have These Bishops Studied Morals?”
Fr. Ángel David Martín Rubio, a Spanish priest from the Diocese of Coria-Caceres, a professor of Church History at the Theological Institute Virgen de Guadalupe and at the Diocesan Seminary of Caceres, wrote a series of articles analyzing the attitude of the bishops in relation to Catholic lawmakers and to the King.
The titles of these articles speak for themselves: “Spanish Bishops and Abortion: History Repeats Itself” (Feb. 26, 2010); “Where Have the Bishops Studied Morals?” (March 4, 2010); “Abortion and Royal Approval: 10 Questions for the Spanish Bishops’ Conference” (March 7, 2010).1
About the bishops’ ambiguous attitude, Father Martin Rubio comments: “This de facto tolerance toward [the approval of abortion] and many other legislative realities that are transforming the essence of our society is probably the gravest responsibility for the Catholic shepherds and Spanish Catholics who, barring few and honorable exceptions, have forfeited any cultural and social consequence of their faith.”2
Bishop Martinez Camino’s Confusing Statements
For his part, the auxiliary Bishop of Madrid, secretary general and spokesman for the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, Jesuit Bishop Juan Antonio Martínez Camino, when asked by journalists whether the Spanish King would not incur excommunication if he signed the abortion law, said that he would not. And he provided a rather confusing explanation, to say the least:
“The situation of His Majesty the King is unique; no other citizen finds himself in this situation and no general principle is applicable to his case .... The Bishops’ Conference does not want to make a pronouncement about the responsibility of the King’s unique act.”3
Being king does not exempt a Catholic from the general principles of morals, as Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, made quite clear when he wrote about the matter.4
“God is Not Fooled”
Father Martín Rubio refuted this affirmation by Bishop Martínez Camino quoting words from a 1985 statement by the then Bishop of Cuenca, Most. Rev. José Guerra Campos (+1997), the only Spanish prelate who stood up against the general attitude of the episcopate facing the approval of the abortion law and its sanction by the King. Bishop Guerra Campos said at the time:
“Sometimes people try to shirk their higher responsibilities as if the role of public authorities were limited to that of witnesses, registrars or notaries of the ‘people’s will’. They will see. God is not fooled. ... Those who have established the abortion law are conscious and unrepentant perpetrators of what the Pope calls a ‘most serious violation of the moral order’, with all the grave and harmful consequences of social scandal. Catholics involved with the law’s approval should see whether they come under Canon 915, which excludes from Communion those who persist in ‘manifest grave sin.’... The general rule is clear. Catholics in public office, who, through laws or acts of government, promote or facilitate – or at any rate give legal cover to – the crime of abortion, cannot escape the moral stigma of public sinners. They should be treated as such – particularly in the reception of the Sacraments – until they rectify according to their possibilities the very serious damage and scandal they have caused.”5
“Remote Cooperation With Evil”?
Most. Rev. Reig Plá, Bishop of Alcalá de Henares and President of the Bishops’ Sub-Committee on Family and Life, asserted that with his sanction, the King committed an act of “remote cooperation with evil.”6
One could ask whether the King’s attitude could not be called “implicit formal cooperation” or “positive cooperation” with evil (both morally unlawful) for sanctioning and mandating the enforcement of an evil law.7
“I Command That This Law Be Abided By”
Indeed, the King’s act was not merely a notary’s record without any bearing upon the law: According to current Spanish legislation, it was necessary for the law to come into effect.8
He not only approved the said law but ordered that it be accepted and abided by, as can be seen by his document:
“…I hereby sanction the following organic law [broadening the practice of abortion]. Therefore, I command all Spaniards, private individuals and authorities, to fulfill and make fulfill this organic law.” Madrid, March 3, 2010.”9
It is deplorable that the absurd idea is spreading among Catholic politicians and authorities that they can govern or legislate without obeying the Law of God.
No tricks will avail those who schemed to bring about this law to keep pretending they still deserve the glorious title of Catholic. For, as the Most Rev. Guerra Campos emphasized in 1985: “God is not fooled.”
Footnotes1. At http://www.religionenlibertad.com/blog.asp?idautor=9. [back]
2. "Obispos españoles y aborto: la historia se repite" at http://www.religionenlibertad.com/articulo.asp?idarticulo=7373. [back]
3. "Obispos españoles y aborto: la historia se repite" at http://www.religionenlibertad.com/articulo.asp?idarticulo=7373. [back]
4. Article "'The world is watching!' Pro-Life Leader Challenges Spanish King to Defend Life in Upcoming Decision" at http://www.hli.org/index.php/news/press-releases/805?task=view. [back]
5. "Obispos españoles y aborto: la historia se repite" at http://www.religionenlibertad.com/articulo.asp?idarticulo=7373 (our translation, our emphasis). [back]
6. "El obispo de Alcalá dice que el Rey 'coopera con el mal' al aprobar la Ley del Aborto" at http://www.eldigitaldemadrid.es/articulo/general/2291/el-obispo-de-alcala-de-henares
7. Cf. “Formal and Material Cooperation” in Ethics & Medics, June, 1995. Retrieved from http://www.consciencelaws.org/Examining-Conscience-Ethical/Ethical02.html; Msgr. Angel Rodriguez Luño, "La responsabilidad moral de quien usa material biológico ilícito" [The Moral Responsibility of One Who Makes Use of Unlawful Biological Material] at http://www.usat.edu.pe/usat/capellania-usat/articulos/la-responsabilidad-moral-de-quien-usa-material-biologico-ilicito/. [back]
8. “The King will sanction within 15 days the laws approved by the Cortes General and promulgate and order their immediate publication” [“El Rey sancionará en el plazo de quince días las leves aprobadas por las Cortes Generales, y las promulgará y ordenará su inmediata publicación.”] Constitución Española, Titulo III, Cap. 2, Artículo 91. At http://noticias.juridicas.com/base_datos/Admin/constitucion.t3.html#). [back]
9. "¿Dónde estudiaron moral los Obispos?" at http://www.religionenlibertad.com/articulo.asp?idarticulo=7492. [back]