More on Trujillo's excommunication for embryo-destroying researchers comment:
The Rev. Kevin T. FitzGerald, an associate professor of oncology at the Georgetown University Medical Center, was upset by news reports of the cardinal's statement and thought they appeared to be "misleading" and "ignorant" because they made the threat of excommunication look as if it was new in this case. Father FitzGerald has worked with adult stem cells but not embryonic stem cells. He agreed that the cardinal's comments did not seem to reflect a change in Vatican policy, and he believed the news reports were "flat-out wrong" in that regard.
Others also cautioned against reading too much into the cardinal's words. "The main thing is that it's not an authoritative source," said Lisa Cahill, a professor of theology at Boston College who studies bioethics. "It's a person speaking in an interview, not even a written statement."
Ms. Cahill, a critic of stem-cell research, notes that excommunication for those involved in abortion is "not on the front line of ecclesial policy, so I'm not sure it would be extended to stem-cell research."
Still, she said, such unofficial comments sometimes precede a more meaningful Vatican directive. "Sometimes they are trial balloons," said Ms. Cahill. "This could be an overture of that sort."
The first scientist to clone a horse, Cesare Galli, who is Catholic, told The Daily Telegraph, a British newspaper, that he would continue with his research even at the risk of excommunication. "I was raised as a Catholic, I share Catholic values, but I am able to make my own judgment on some issues, and I do not need to be told by the church what to do or to think," said Mr. Galli, a professor at the Laboratory of Reproductive Technologies, in Cremona, Italy.
(the blog is different from the regular column for Chiesa, and is untranslated, except by the Papa Ratzinger Forum)
The interview given by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo to the magazine Famiglia Cristiana with the title “They are crimes, not rights” (Sono delitti, non diritti) referring to abortion and destruction of human embryos, has stirred up a wasp’s nest.
It happens almost always when this cardinal speaks out his personal opinions. A bit like another Curial cardinal ‘out of control,' Renato Martino.
The difference between these two outspoken cardinals is that Lopez Trujillo speaks about a more explosive subject – issues concerning life and the family.
In the interview, Lopez Trujillo claims that in an abortion, “the mother, the doctor, the nurses, and the father if he agrees to it” all run the risk of excommunication.
So far, so good. Canon 1398 of the Code of Canon Law says clearly: “Whoever is responsible for achieving an abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,” whose absolution depends on the local bishop or whoever he delegates. Last Easter, the Bishop of Cremona, Dante Lafranconi, made news when he announced that he was extending the power to absolve abortion to all of his priests.
However, pressed by the interviewer, Lopez Trujillo added that excommunication would also penalize “whoever takes part in research on embryonic stem cells”. Which would mean “the mother, her doctors and the researchers who would destroy these embryos” (an act he referred to elsewhere in the interview as ‘killing’).
That is something the Cardinal is saying on his own. The Code of Canon Law does not say so. In the chapter on penalties for “crimes against life and human liberty,” the only acts which merit excommunication are abortion and “physical violence against the Roman pontiff”. No excommunication, for instance, for all other homicidal acts.
And any canonist and jurist knows that ppenalties cannot be extended by analogy. They can only be applied to specifically defined cases.