BONN, Germany, Sept 24 ( – Despite a four day meeting and a letter of instruction from the Pope, the German Bishops Conference remains split over how to resolve the conflict over participation in abortion counselling. A letter from John Paul II made public this week noted that handing out certificates even with wording forbidding abortion was not enough. The specific solution whether to drop the counselling involvement altogether or to offer counselling without certificates was left up to the bishops. 

Zenit notes that the letter from the Pope said: “If, in fact, government authority ignores the above-mentioned note, it is not possible to understand how the Church can remain in the consultation required by the law.” Because of this, “the eventual certificate will serve only and exclusively to document the direction in the service of life of the ecclesial consultation center, and to guarantee the attribution of the promised aid.” 

Although the final decision from the German hierarchy was expected today, the German Bishops’  Conference remained split over the issue and said they would continue offering the counselling and certificates “for an interim period” until resolution of the conflict. German politicians are urging the German Church leaders to defy the Pope but have plans to set up a foundation to take over the Church’s role in the counselling if the Church ceases to offer it.