Remarks by the vice-president of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, dealing with the gravity of abortion as compared to the abuse of minors and vulnerable people, are the subject of lively debate in the land of the Cristeros.
“Morally, abortion is more serious because it consists of the killing of an innocent person, while the concept of abuse can cover very diverse realities. This is where the difference in moral gravity lies,” said Bishop Carlos Garfias at a press conference on May 12, 2019.
The Archbishop of Morelia (Mexico) answered a question about a statement by Cardinal Giovanni Baptista Re, from March 9, 2009, concerning a sordid story that was unfolding in Brazil. The first manipulation lies in the question asked which does not report Cardinal Re’s words, but the accounts printed in the newspapers at that time, such as The Obs titled: “Rape is less serious than abortion,” words that are not to be found in statement of the prelate, who was content to condemn abortion.
To this question, the bishop gave the answer reported above and added, “Punishment for an abortion can be absolved by a priest only if he receives a special delegation [of the power to do so] because of the seriousness of the crime. While abuse can take many forms, which do not have the same gravity,” which underlines their difference.
Same cause, same effects: the accusations against the Church brought ten years ago resurfaced immediately, amplified by the current situation, even more explosive than at that time. Despite the fact that Bishop Garfias has taken care to avoid any laxity in the matter of the abuse of minors or vulnerable persons.
We can easily learn from this episode. On the one hand, some topics call for the exercise of extreme caution today. It is certainly very detrimental for souls that we cannot preach the truth with the apostolic freedom it requires, but the common good sometimes obliges us to be silent for a time, as Holy Scripture says: there is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Eccles. 3:7).
On the other hand, we must have a systematic mistrust of the media who feed on scoops and scandals, and abhor revealed truth. Hence the importance of developing our own channels for preaching “in season and out of season” (II Tim. 4:2).