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Reinhard Cardinal Marx told reporters last March that “We are not a subsidiary of Rome. The Synod cannot prescribe in detail what we should do in Germany.”Lisa Bourne / LifeSiteNews

January 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The German bishops have publicly praised a counseling organization that hands out certificates to pregnant women allowing a legal abortion.

This comes at the end of a 20-year-long conflict within the Catholic Church in this matter.

As the official website of the German bishops reported Wednesday:

The German Bishops' Conference has officially highlighted, and for the first time, that the association Donum Vitae is working for the protection of life and that it is successful in conflict counseling. At the same time, the bishops now give permission to former employees of that organization to receive a heretofore forbidden employment in Catholic counseling organizations.

This new attitude of the German bishops can be seen in a letter written by Cardinal Reinhard Marx – the President of the German Bishops' Conference and a papal adviser – to the German lay organization Central Committee of German Catholics (Zentralkomitee deutscher Katholischen, ZdK), as it has been passed on to

ZdK's President, Dr. Thomas Sternberg, welcomes this decision in a letter to the members of his own organization as an “important clarification” and a “qualitative jump ahead” which could heal “some wounds.” According to, this new turn had been previously discussed during a recent meeting of the permanent council of the German bishops in Würzburg, Germany.

According to, Cardinal Marx writes to Dr. Sternberg:

There is no doubt that the goal of Donum Vitae – as well as of the counseling of pregnant women which takes place under the responsibility of the bishops – is the protection of unborn persons. I thus state that many female counselors of Donum Vitae were successful in giving courage to numerous women, respectively parents to welcome a life with the child, and that they offer the best possible aides for that. For it, we may be together grateful.

Cardinal Marx adds: “I consider it self-evident that persons who previously worked in a counseling office of Donum Vitae can now be employed by counseling organizations that are approved by the bishops.”

In 1999, Pope John Paul II had demanded from the German bishops not to participate any more in the specifically German system of pro-abortion counseling. Finally, the German bishops did quit that system in November of that year. Since the Catholic counseling organizations then had to quit that national certificate system, the German Catholic lay organization Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) founded Donum Vitae in order to be still involved in this practice of handing out counseling certificates to pregnant women so that they may legally kill the babies in their wombs.

Originally, the German bishops, after pressure from Rome, declared Donum Vitae not to be a “Catholic organization.” As the 24 January article explains:

A Christian association who counsels in light of the protection of life but still hands out the certificate is Donum Vitae. That is why, in 2006, the association that had been founded by prominent Catholics was declared by the German bishops to be outside the Church.

According to the association's information, Donum Vitae counseled, in 2016, 50,000 women, among them 15,000 in situations of crisis. How many abortions were afterwards performed is unknown to the association.

This new episcopal initiative in favor of Donum Vitae comes after recent news that some prominent bishops in Germany wish the blessing of homosexual couples.