Monday, August 27, 2007

Pregnant, poor and raped in Africa: debate over options


It takes very little to annoy the Vatican. As proof, Amnesty International seems to have managed it.

It's odd because Amnesty is an organization, like Médecins sans Frontières, that is pretty as a pearl, selfless as a live organ donor and pretty much morally unassailable. We're all for human rights and medical care for the poor and the stomped-on of this world, correct?

Not so much, says the Vatican.

Amnesty recently decided on a policy it had been discussing for some time. Without stating a position on abortion generally, it said it would campaign for abortion rights in cases of rape, incest or violence, or where the mother's life or health is in danger.

Although rape has always been used in war as a means of terrifying and subjugating the civilian population, the impetus appears to be the horrific rapes inflicted upon women in Darfur.

It took Amnesty long enough to reach this conclusion, but like all organizations depending upon consensus, it has been described as ""a huge creaking oil tanker that takes a very long time to turn around."

Wartime rape is an appalling crime — armed and powerful aggressors against helpless people — but it gets worse: The victims, like German women after the Russian Army descended in 1945, are shunned by their own community. Silence descends. I always thought the worst story out of Darfur was of refugees reduced to renting a piece of shade under a tree. But there are worse torments. [read the full article]

Of course, the Vatican doesn't really CARE about women or children. Their best interests don't ever really factor into the decision-making process in Church policy. Never have... Never will....

The Church makes its own rules. Divorce is out of the question.... unless the Pope says so (Application under either the Petrine Privilege or the Pauline Privilege (after Peter and Paul) allows for divorce, that fact being something of which very few Catholics are aware).

The Catholic Church doesn't care whether someone is actually Catholic in it's decisions, as shown in the Church's denunciation of Amnesty's decision and in other areas, such as the granting of annulments by the Church. Most Catholics aren't even aware that the Church can allow a non-Catholic married to a non-Catholic to annul their marriage so they can marry a Catholic.

Of course, the fact that a non-Catholic married to a non-Catholic, who wasn't married in the Catholic Church, can find themselves dragged before a Tribunal asking them all sorts of personal and intrusive questions can be a little surprising (Nay, even offensive!) because their former spouse has decided to marry a Catholic. It comes as more of a surprise to many Catholics. For a non-Catholic of fair intelligence to try and make heads or tails of just what their rights are is pretty well a lost cause. For someone who is not well educated and in fear of their mortal soul it must be terrifying.

...And the mental gymnastics it must have taken come up with the the logic of "You marriage is deemed never to have taken place. This does not mean that children from this marriage are not legitimate. The marriage took place legally but it is deemed not to have taken place under the laws of the Church."

Makes as much sense as "Every life is sacred. So if you are raped (likely under torture or AS torture) and you and your child are then excluded from your community and forced to starve or actually stoned to death by your family and neighbours... that's terrible but not as terrible as if you had aborted the little clump of cells that resulted from the rape...." You aren't sacred but the lump of cells is.

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