by Steven Ertelt
March 19, 2007
Berlin, Germany (LifeNews.com) — The participation by the German Catholic church in an abortion counseling program is again the subject of debate between them and the Vatican. Now, the German bishops have been instructed by Pope Benedict XVI to distance themselves from the abortion counseling group so they’re not seen as sanctioning the practice.
The abortion counseling program was the source of contention as early as 1998 when Pope John Paul II asked German priests to stop issuing certificates saying that they have counseled pregnant women considering an abortion.
German law required counseling before a woman could have an abortion and the priests saw the program as a way to persuade women not to have one.
But the program also involves issued a certificate allowing the abortion if the counseling doesn’t persuade the woman to keep her baby. The Vatican sees that as an endorsement of abortion and a violation of the pro-life teachings of the church.
The German newspaper Die Tagespos reports that Cardinal William Levada of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asked the bishops of the European nation to distance themselves from Donum Vitae — the group that facilitates the counseling.
The newspaper says the Catholic Church in Germany officially asked parishioners in June 2006 to not work with Donum Vitae and now the Vatican wants a more active enforcement of that request.
The Donum Vitae group was founded by Catholics who disagreed with Pope John Paul’s original request not to be involved in issuing certificates for abortions after the counseling.
There are about 1,500 counseling clinics in Germany, including about 250 run by the group. The German government and the Red Cross also reportedly run abortion counseling centers.