Cardinal von Galen Award – Summer 2009: Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho

Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho has guided the Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife in Brazil since 1985. In the past 24 years he has proved an able shepherd for his flock of 3.5 million souls, but recent events put a strong spotlight on the quality of his episcopal leadership. In Recife the tragic situation of a very young child pregnant with twins was made much worse by the exploitation of this case by doctors and feminists to push the abortion agenda. Despite the close pastoral care of parish priest Fr. Edson Rodrigues, the young girl’s mother was convinced to have an abortion performed on her daughter. Archbishop Cardoso Sobrinho publicly announced the latae sententiae, or automatic excommunication of those responsible for the abortion. It was a very high profile case which called for a strong declaration of principles. “If I had remained silent during that episode, I would have been an accomplice of the crime. I fulfilled my duty.”

Archbishop Cardoso Sobrinho heroically braved the storm of condemnations that the international press rained down upon him. He did not retreat a single step, in spite of the systematic calumnies spread by the pro-abortion media and ignorant politicians, and especially in spite of the criticisms from various fellow bishops, both in Brazil and overseas. Lies, such as the affirmation that the young girl would have died without the abortion, were brought out again. Feminists have used the same tactic in Nicaragua and other countries. The goal of the abortion movement is to use heartrending cases of sexual abuse to legitimize the violence and violation of abortion.

Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula from the HLI Rome Office and Raymond de Souza-HLI Program Director for Portuguese-speaking nations personally presented the Cardinal von Galen Award to Archbishop José Cardoso-Sobrinho in the Damas College auditorium, in Recife. Practically all the archdiocesan clergy came to the event as well as four other bishops, all the seminarians and lay persons for a total number exceeding 2,000 persons. The press in Brazil also gave a great deal of coverage to the event.

Archbishop Cardoso Sobrinho thanked all those who cooperated in any way in the unsuccessful fight to save the lives of the three children at risk-the mother and her twins. He acknowledged the messages of support that came to him from many dioceses of Brazil and other countries. “I offer this homage especially to the two babies that were murdered and to their little mother as well”, he concluded. HLI is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with this archbishop who refused to back down from the Catholic Church’s affirmation that innocent human life is sacred and that the direct killing of a preborn child through abortion can never be justified and incurs the penalty of excommunication.

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