NewsTue Jul 11, 2006 - 12:15 pm EST
German Bishops Finally Denounce Abortion Counselling Service
by Hilary White
BONN, July 11, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – This week, six years after being ordered to cease and years of interventions from the Vatican, the German Catholic bishops’ conference has prohibited Catholics from using a pregnancy service that was issuing certificates for government funded abortions.
“As a private association, Donum Vitae is an organization outside the Catholic Church – its information centres are not acknowledged by the bishops’ conference or by individual bishops,” the bishops said in a statement. “Persons acting in the Church’s service are prohibited from cooperating with Donum Vitae. Nor is it permitted to exchange personnel.”
Since 1995, the German government has required women to obtain a certificate from a legally constituted abortion counselling service. Donum Vitae (Gift of Life) was run for that purpose by the German Catholic hierarchy on the justification that some women might be dissuaded from going ahead with the abortion.
Donum Vitae runs about 250 centres around Germany and the UK’s Tablet reports that it has vowed to take the place of Germany’s 26 Catholic dioceses when they completed their withdrawal from the state-run counselling system in 2002.
The German Church now runs Caritas Catholic Women’s Social Service, for crisis pregnancy counselling and does not issue the certificates. The bishops ordered their charities to refrain from cooperating or sharing the same buildings with Donum Vitae. “We ask all the faithful working in church councils and assistance groups, as well as church associations and organizations, to show greater clarity in giving Catholic witness,” the bishops added. “They should be more aware and respectful of the differences between Donum Vitae and the position taken by Catholic Church foundations.”
The statement is the long-awaited denouement of a drawn-out struggle between the late Pope John Paul II and the Vatican and German bishops who insisted that the service ought to continue in order to reduce the number of abortions.
International media portrayed the service as “counselling” for women in crisis pregnancies, and the last German bishop to hold out against the Vatican’s cease and desist directives, Bishop Franz Kamphaus of Limburg, as a kind of folk hero for women’s rights.
In 1999, Rome issued its first order for the practice to end. It was not until 2002 that Pope John Paul II took the highly unusual step of stripping Bishop Kamphaus of his authority and assuming pastoral direction personally in order to bring the practice to a halt.
Bishop Kamphaus, who refused to comply until his power to act was forcibly removed, remains in place as bishop of Limburg.
Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Pope Strips German Bishop of Authority Over Abortion Counselling Centers
German Cardinal Who Opposed Pope over Abortion Counselling Slammed by Colleague for Fostering Dissent
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