German Catholic Leader Apologizes for Abortion-Holocaust Comparisons

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 11, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

German Catholic Leader Apologizes for Abortion-Holocaust Comparisons Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 11, 2005

Cologne, Germany ( — A German Catholic cardinal says he regrets comments he made during a sermon last week in which he compared the destruction of millions of lives to abortion with the genocide campaigns conducted by Hitler and Stalin.

During the sermon, Cardinal of Cologne Joachim Meisner said: "First there was Herod, who ordered the children of Bethlehem to be killed, then there was Hitler and Stalin among others, and today unborn children are being killed in their millions."

"I regret that it has got to this pitch," Cardinal Meisner told the Deutsche Weld news service.

He said he intended no offense to people of the Jewish faith and said he never would have made the comparison if he thought it would have been taken as an offense or misunderstood.

The comments drew criticism from Jewish leaders and some lawmakers.

Paul Spiegel, president of the Central Council for Jews in Germany, claims the Catholic leader insulted millions of Jews who were victims of genocide in Germany before and during World War II. He said he was considering taking the matter to court.

Spiegel told the newspaper Saarbrücker Zeitung he "cannot in any way understand" how anyone could compare abortion and euthanasia to the crimes of the Nazis. He called the comparison "unspeakable and offensive."

The ecumenical movement Initiative Kirche also took issue with the cardinal’s comments.

"Meisner has completely lost his authority as a bishop and has publicly done a great wrong to the Catholic Church and to dialogue between Jews and Christians," it said.

Meanwhile, Claudia Roth, the co-president of the Greens party, which is in coalition with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s Social Democrats, demanded an apology from Meisner.

"He must apologize to those he has offended," Roth said.

Some pro-life groups have long made the comparison that the number of deaths of unborn children — both in the United States and worldwide — dwarfs any genocide carried out through human history. The comments are not meant to be disrespectful or diminish the deaths of those who have been victims of other forms of genocide.