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Vatican official defends excommunications

VATICAN CITY, March 7 (UPI) -- A senior Vatican cleric says a Brazilian archbishop was correct to excommunicate individuals who helped a young girl obtain an abortion.

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re said Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, the archbishop of the Brazilian cities of Olinda and Recife, acted correctly by excommunicating the girl's doctors, along with her mother, the BBC reported Saturday.

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The 9-year-old girl had sought an abortion because her unborn twins allegedly had been the product of sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather.

The doctors who performed the operation maintained it was legal under Brazilian law, which allows abortions when a pregnancy is threatening the mother's life or in rape cases.

Cardinal Re not only defended Sobrinho's decision, but criticized attacks on the Brazil's Catholic Church following the excommunications.

"Life must always be protected, the attack on the Brazilian Church is unjustified," the Vatican official said.

The BBC said Re is the head of the Congregation for Bishops and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America for the Roman Catholic Church.

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