Newsletter of the District of Asia

 November-December 1999

The Rosary and Portugal

How did the Blessed Virgin Mary repel from Portugal the Law on Abortion?


By Fr. Fabrice Deleate

1. 1984

Socialists and communists had on their agenda to begin the introduction of the law enabling abortion. As it usually happens, the freemasons first issued a law authorizing abortion in some exceptional circumstances, when, for instance, there is a danger for the life of the mother, or when the fetus is abnormal, and in cases of rape and incest.

Let it be said that these situations never justify the killing of an innocent through abortion. Direct abortion is intrinsically immoral, it is a murder, a sin against the Fifth Commandment. The fetus already has all the genetic material of a man. A fetus is not a plant or an animal, no, manhood is already latent in it. No ‘good’ reason can morally permit direct abortion. “Let us not do evil that there may come good” (Rom., III, 8).

Because of this law, 265 abortions were performed in the Portuguese hospitals in 1995 and 281 in 1996. (These are the official numbers, certainly far below reality).

2. FEBRUARY 1997

The parliament of Portugal had to vote for or against the total freedom of abortion, after an appeal of the socialist youth. 127 deputies were socialists and communists and 103 represented the conservative line. Thus it should have been easy for the ‘left’ to gain that victory.

However the wind changed.

The day before the vote, the Prime Minister, who pretended to be both Catholic and socialist, went (out of a troubled conscience?) to the Parliament and delivered a very strong speech against abortion. His words were convincing enough to move some socialists to change their mind. This was perhaps due to the fact that, in this Catholic country, even among adherents to socialistic teaching, there remain some deep-rooted vestiges of Catholicism. In any case, the law opening the floodgates of abortion was defeated by the vote of the Parliament itself, by the narrow margin of 112 votes against 111!

3. FEBRUARY 1998

Socialists and communists charged again. On February 4th, 1998, freedom of abortion was voted by the Parliament by 116 votes against 107 (and 3 abstentions). This vote was for a law granting the possibility of abortion during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. The vote took place as huge demonstrations occurred in the streets of Lisbon and around the Parliament.

The results of the scandalous vote provoked such a reaction all over the country that, caught in their trap of democracy, socialists and communists were obliged to ask the President of the Republic to nullify the vote and to organize a general referendum on abortion throughout the country. This was granted by the President on March 19th, Feast of the great St Joseph. The referendum was fixed for June 28th.

4. APRIL – MAY 1998

The Episcopal Conference of Portugal issued a “Pastoral Statement concerning the referendum on abortion”. Here are the principal passages of this Pastoral Statement.

“1. No popular consultation can morally legitimate a voluntary interruption of pregnancy. Even if a referendum approved of direct abortion, it would not change the immorality of this action, and the Catholics and other citizens would have to fight by all legitimate means against this social calamity.

2. Concerning the upcoming referendum, the answer of the Catholics and of all those who defend life can only be: No! The reason for this negative answer must be clearly stated:
a) To depenalized the persons who collaborate to direct abortion (doctors, nurses, expecting mothers, and often their husband), signifies that abortion, having been legalized, permitted, has ceased to be a crime.
b) We say “No” to direct abortion, because the fetus is a human being from the first instant of his conception. This is confirmed today by science.
c) The question to which the citizens will have to answer in the referendum suggests that abortion can be the right of a pregnant woman. (The exact question is: “I agree that the voluntary interruption of pregnancy, if it comes from the free choice of the woman, in the first ten weeks of her pregnancy, in an approved medical establishment, should not be penalized.” Yes or No?”)
d) A Referendum, as any popular consultation (…) supposes a period of clarification. The Catholic Church cannot renounce to participate in this effort to enlighten consciences. Bishops and priests, we will fulfill our teaching duty . We ask all priests, in all the circumstances they usually exercise this teaching mission to calmly proclaim the Church’s doctrine on the inviolable character of human life (…).
e) For Catholics, any work of formation of the conscience must be accompanied by prayer. Only God can touch the hearts and reveal the mystery of life, which always has its origin in God. We invite priests, religious communities and all Catholics to intensify prayer in this intention (…).”

This statement was in fact an appeal to a crusade of prayer, even if the word ‘crusade’ was not used and the power of the rosary not reminded. It was nevertheless much better than the guilty silence of the French Bishops when a similar law was voted by the Parliament in France in 1974.

In this Catholic country of Portugal such an appeal for prayer was sufficient for the mobilization of the lay people. Alas, it wasn’t the bishops or the priests who organized this counter-attack of prayer. The faithful were truly edifying with their all-night prayer vigils, their living rosaries, etc. The Society of St Pius X obviously joined this crusade through its priory in Lisbon.

Unfortunately, after their Pastoral Statement, the bishops adopted a contradictory attitude.

On May 13th, during a Mass attended by 300,00 pilgrims, the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, in his sermon, said nothing about abortion. He merely urged dialogue, tolerance and asked to avoid fundamentalism. The following day, “Le Correio da Mantia”, one of the most important newspapers in Portugal, ran as a headline: “In front of 300,000 persons at Fatima, the bishop ignores the issue of abortion.” The consequence of this scandalous silence was that many poor and simple people of the countryside ignored the very existence of a vote and the duty for Catholics to vote, and to vote ‘no’. The attitude of the Patriarch of Lisbon was not better. He didn’t want to tell his diocesans how to vote in order not to hurt the feelings of the women who had had an abortion! The result was that in his diocese 68.5% of people voted for the freedom of abortion.

In the North of the country, things went differently, as it is more Catholic. Dom Antonio Rafael, bishop of Bragancia, declared: “Abortion is punished by the most serious canonical penalty which is excommunication for those who commit this crime, collaborate to it or induce it. All Catholics must vote ‘no’. Those who would vote ‘yes’ would sin. (Diario de Noticias, June 2, 1998). He also said in another occasion: “I will not give the sacraments to anyone who doesn’t abhor abortion. Those who do not want to follow the law of the Church should not ask for the sacraments of the Church” (Diario de Noticias, June 29,1998). In his diocese, 73.75% voted against abortion. Dom Antonio Monteiro, Bishop of Visen, stated: “If someone accepts the possibility of killing an innocent child, he puts himself outside the Catholic Church. Those who will vote for the freedom of abortion will put themselves outside the Catholic Church. Abortion is punished by excommunication.” This bishop, who is nonetheless a pioneer of ecumenism in Portugal was much criticized by the media who called him a fundamentalist, an integrist, and said that he has made a medieval declaration a campaign similar to the Inquisition! In his diocese, 75,78% voted against abortion.

Dom Eugene Dias Noguiera, archbishop of Braga, compared abortion with the holocaust of the Nazi, which infuriated the media. 77.27% of his diocese voted ‘no’.

All of this proves that when the bishops are courageous, the file and rank Catholics are strengthened and stand up for the laws of God and of the Church.

5. JUNE 1998

The day before the referendum the polls announced that the law for the freedom of abortion would certainly passed by 54 to 60% of the votes. The enemies of the Church were sure of their victory.

Nevertheless, on June 28, 1998, 50.91% of the people of Portugal voted against abortion.

The newspapers explicitly stated that it was a victory for the Catholic Church: “The churchmen have threatened the people and brandished the flag of fear. Politicians washed their hands as Pilate, and the Church threatened the Portuguese people with the fire of hell” (A Capital, June 29, 1998).

It must be said that this victory of the Church was in fact a victory of Our Lady of Fatima, of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, of the Holy Rosary. This miraculous turn of event was due to all these rosaries prayed days and nights all over Portugal. Once again it proves this efficacy of this prayer.

Let us quote Sister Lucy:

“In these last times, Our Lady has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the rosary, so that there is no problem, no matter how difficult, of the temporal order or above all spiritual, a problem of our personal life, of our family, of families in general, or of religious families, problems at the national or international level (…), there is no problem how difficult it may be, which cannot be solved by the rosary. With the Holy Rosary, we will save ourselves, we will sanctify ourselves, we will console Our Lord and obtain the salvation of many souls.”

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