Dozens of young people in Columbia organized a protest outside of the Pontifical Xavierian University in Bogota on Saturday in reaction to the anti-life statements of a Catholic priest who teaches at the university.
Father Carlos Novoa, S.J. has recently given several statements to the media falsely repeating that abortion is permissible under certain conditions. In making his argument, he presents his personal interpretation of such documents as the encyclical, Evangelium vitae, certain documents from Vatican II and the code of canon law.
“It is very disappointing and frustrating to see people who have received formation as Jesuits not defending the message of Christ and the principles for which St. Ignatius of Loyola fought his entire life,” said one of the student protestors.
“The statements by Fr. Novoa have been very damaging to the Church because they contradict the messages that have been part of the magisterium and tradition of the Church throughout history which Pope Benedict XVI has also defended,” another student taking part in the protest said. “When a priest goes contradicts this message in the media, he is confusing the faithful. This attitude must be counteracted with courage and rigor.”
The Catholic News Agency reported that the protestors signed a petition calling on the rector of the university, Father Joaquin Sanchez Garcia, the bishops of Colombia, the nunciature and Fr. Novoa himself to clarify the position of the Church on the defense of life from conception to natural death.
Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International, issued the following statement today in hopes of correcting Fr. Novoa’s misrepresentation of Catholic teaching on the dignity of human life:
“While it is the duty and responsibility of every priest, and all children of Christ, to faithfully proclaim the true teachings of our Lord and the Catholic Church, sadly there are some who mislead the faithful. According to news reports, Fr. Novoa has repeatedly expressed support for abortion in certain circumstances, which violates the duty of the faithful to protect life from conception to natural death. In doing so, he has also reportedly misrepresented the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II. To be clear, there is absolutely no justification for abortion in Church teaching, and any Catholic, even a priest, who says differently separates himself from the Church in doing so. We must reiterate the Church’s teaching as it relates to the indefensible statements of Fr. Novoa.
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, ‘Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception…Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.’
“The words of Blessed Pope John Paul II were made clear in Evangelium vitae that believers in Christ are called to defend and promote the sacred value of human life:
[E]very person sincerely open to truth and goodness can, by the light of reason and the hidden action of grace, come to recognize in the natural law written in the heart the sacred value of human life from its very beginning until its end, and can affirm the right of every human being to have this primary good respected to the highest degree…believers in Christ must defend and promote this right.
“We expect Fr. Novoa’s superiors and his bishop to clarify the Church’s teaching to Fr. Novoa, and take appropriate action, before this scandal grows further out of control,” said Fr. Boquet.