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ROME, June 23 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Clearing up misleading news stories by the German media, the Vatican released the letter Pope John Paul II wrote earlier this month to the bishops of Germany regarding abortion counselling. Contrary to earlier reports, Zenit News reveals that the Pope did not ban the counselling practice but did insist that the certificates given by Catholic counselling must not be used to obtain “decriminalized abortions.”

Bishop Karl Lehmann of Mainz, chairman of the German Bishops Conference, announced at a Bonn news conference today that the Church’s role in the counselling would continue but the certificates would include a sentence saying: “This certificate cannot be used for the carrying out of a legal abortion.” According to the Associated Press, the bishop conceded that the certificates may still be accepted as satisfying the legal requirements for abortion. However, political and medical leaders in the country doubt that the certificates with the added sentence could be used since they might give rise to legal challenges and lawsuits.

In his letter to the German bishops the Pope wrote: “So that the legal and moral quality of this document becomes unambiguous, I ask you to place it clearly in the actual text of the certificate that certifies counseling by the Church and giving right to the promised aid cannot be used to obtain a decriminalized abortion.” Stressing the gravity of his intervention John Paul wrote, “I ask you, for the sake of the dignity of life and of clarity in ecclesial testimony, to unanimously accept my decision on this matter and to put it into practice before the end of the year.”

See excerpts from the papal letter.

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