BARCELONA, March 11, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - For three years, the Cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona has refused to act against a priest in his diocese who boasts openly of having financed abortions.
Fr. Manel Pousa
Now, the priest is a subject of a new book in Catalonian, “Fr. Manel: Closer to earth than to heaven”, which describes the ever-growing popularity of his charitable work with Spanish celebrities. In addition to repeating his claim of having paid for abortions, Fr. Manel Pousa says he has performed “blessings” of homosexual unions, and endorses the creation of female “priests”, according to reports in the Spanish media.
He also states that he regards clerical celibacy as optional, and says he has a girlfriend—but claims that their relationship is celibate.
Although Pousa has never retracted any of his statements, his prelate, Cardinal Lluís Martínez Sistach, has only given Manel a verbal “warning”, leaving him in his place to continue his leadership of his parish and his other activities.
The controversy about Pousa began in 2008, when the Spanish website Religion en Libertad (Religion in Liberty) first published in Spanish a quote from an interview given by the priest, in which he said: “What interests me is the person. It is true that there are ethical principles, but there are reasons, that, for example, lead certain women to have an abortion. I have paid for abortions. And the Spanish Episcopal Conference doesn’t realize that the Gospel doesn’t condemn, but rather offers liberating measures.”
In the new book on Pousa, the priest admits to paying for at least one abortion, and appears to defy the Church authorities, claiming that “I am as much the Church as the pope or the bishop.”
Cover of Closer to Earth book
“It may be that what I say sounds bad to the extreme right,” continues Pousa, “but those people are not going to distance me from the Church, an institution where I have been received by extraordinary people. We may have frictions, like all families do, and the Church is my family.”
The Catholic Church condemns homosexual unions and teaches that abortion, which takes the life of an unborn child, is the equivalent of murder. Those who assist in an abortion are automatically excommunicated under Church law.
“The excommunication applies to all of those who commit this crime knowing the penalty, including those accomplices without whose cooperation the crime would not have been produced,” wrote Pope John Paul II in his encyclical letter “The Gospel of Life,” in 1995.
Pousa is a celebrity in ultra-liberal Catalonia, where he has won the Solidarity Prize from the Catalonian Institute of Human Rights.
Cardinal Martínez Sistach has reportedly scheduled another meeting with the priest, although the outcome has not been reported.
The Pousa scandal follows on the heels of revelations in September of last year that Catholic hospitals under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Barcelona were performing abortions and distributing the deadly abortion drug, RU-486.