Although I do not usually post to this list, as vice president of Catholics for Choice and a canon lawyer, I feel I must offer some clarifications. First, the accusations posted here about Catholics for Choice are unfounded. At CFC, we strive to be an expression of Catholicism as it is lived by ordinary people. We are part of the great majority of the faithful in the Catholic church who disagrees with the dictates of the Vatican on a wide variety of issues, including sexuality, respect for women in the Church and the world, and the role of the institutional Church in public policy making.
We are part of the great majority who believes that Catholic teachings on conscience mean that every individual must follow his or her own conscience ― and respect others' right to do the same. Catholics for Choice's mission is to shape and advance sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to women's well-being and respect and affirm the capacity of women and men to make moral decisions about their lives. CFC works in the United States and internationally to ensure that all people have access to safe and affordable reproductive healthcare services and to infuse our core values into public policy, community life and Catholic social thinking and teaching. None of this is grounds for excommunication. Second, excommunication is a very serious penalty in the Catholic Church, and accusations about a person’s standing in the Church should not be made lightly as they can be detrimental to a person’s reputation.
In regard to excommunication as a penalty for procured abortion, I recommend to you a brochure from Catholics for Choice which can be found on our Web site (Notes on Canon Law No. 1<http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/topics/abortion/documents/2004notesoncanonlaw1_001.pdf>). At a most basic level, Bishop Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, USA, has no jurisdiction over Catholics for Choice. To debate his claims of excommunication in this forum would give them more credence than they deserve and would further a false presumption of their merit. Catholics for Choice does indeed respect a woman’s right to make choices about becoming pregnant and about continuing or terminating a pregnancy, as only she knows what her conscience tells her is the right thing to do. None of us can make that determination for another. We understand that not every Catholic joins us in a prochoice position. However, we feel that ours is a position grounded in our tradition and our faith. We offer a brief exposition of our position here: Prochoice Catholicism 101<http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/topics/abortion/documents/ProchoiceCatholicism101.pdf>. We respect others’ right to disagree, and ask them to respect us. In charity, it is inappropriate for any of us to make claims about another person’s relationship with her Church or with God.
I have known Elfriede Harth for many years, and her work for progressive Catholicism, both during her work with Catholics for Choice, and now independently, has been both admirable and dedicated. The public accusations made against her in this forum are unfair, ungrounded, and unkind. I hope that IMWAC members would disavow them as such. Catholics for Choice has long worked with IMWAC and other progressive Catholic groups throughout the world and we look forward to continued opportunities to do so. We are represented in Europe by our European Coordinator, Henk Baars, and are advised by progressive Catholics across the continent, and in the Americas, Asia, and Africa. We stand ready to continue our work with IMWAC and others who look for a more progressive, representative voice of Catholics in the Church and the world.
Should any of you wish to contact me with questions about Catholics for Choice or the positions I have put forward here, I welcome your direct communiqué to me at http://uk.mc249.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=smorello%40catholicsforchoice.orgmailto:http://uk.mc249.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=smorello%40catholicsforchoice.org.
Respectfully, Sara Morello, JCL Vice President, Catholics for Choice
Gladys Melo-Pinzón PhD. International Program Director Catholics for Choice 1436 U Str. NW. Suite 301, Washington DC 20009 Phone: 1 (202) 986-6093 Fax: 1 (202) 332-7995 www.catholicsforcho ice.org<http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/>