Fabio Martínez Castilla, Archbishop of Tuxla Gutiérrez sparked some controversy over remarks made on Tuesday at a homily in the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Marcos, by claiming that “abortion is much more serious than rape of children by priests.”
Appointed Archbishop last May by then Pope Benedict XVI, Castilla went on to clarify that both abuse and abortion “quantitatively do much harm and deserve punishment.” He is a firm believer in the Church’s stance on contraceptives and condoms as “patches” to avoid responsibility.
Though abortion has become gradually more controversial in the Catholic Church, access in the country is limited to just Mexico City where abortion until twelve weeks’ gestation was first legalized in 2007. Specific laws protecting human life from natural birth until natural death are on the books in many parts of the country.
Many women outside the capital turn to the drug misoprostol (Cytotec), made by Pfizer, which is available over-the-counter in Mexico and is frequently used for clandestine abortions. Though in America doctors tend to pair it with the drug mifepristone (formerly RU-486) to induce a “medical abortion,” the World Health Organization has said that misoprostol by itself can be effective until nine weeks’ of gestation. Though due to cultural stigma and lack of education, many women are poorly instructed by pharmacists on proper dosage, if at all.
Pope Benedict XVI himself sparked controversy in Latin America when, in a 2007 trip to Brazil, he insinuated that politicians who had advocated for abortion rights ought to be excommunicated from the church. “Yes, the excommunication isn’t something arbitrary — it’s part of the code,” the pope remarked.
With regard to abuse cases, though the former pope was the first to openly apologize to victims of sexual assault by priests, his message was often mixed: “In the Church, priests are also sinners. But I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign, as the percentage of these offenses among priests is not higher than in other categories, and is perhaps even lower…”
Wounds are still fresh in America following a costly $660 million settlement made in 2007 by the Los Angeles archdiocese to 500 victims of sexual assault by priests. Just this year the diocese released an additional 12,000 pages of internal files on priests accused of sexually abusing children — information that had been redacted in original trials until Judge Emilie H. Elias overturned a previous decision and mandated that the information be made public.