DAILY CATHOLIC WEDNESDAY June 23, 1999 vol. 10, no. 121
NEWS & VIEWS
POPE APPEALS FOR HELP TO MOTHERS IN DIFFICULTY
Church-run Counseling Centers Must Not Tacitly Endorse Abortion
VATICAN CITY, JUN 22 (ZENIT).- As was leaked last week to the German press, John Paul II has intervened again in the thorny question of pregnancy consultation centers. In the letter, he asks the Bishops to change the certificates given in Catholic centers, so that they cannot be used to get an abortion afterwards.
German law was changed in 1995 to make abortion legal during the first three months, with the condition placed that the woman must first get advice from a counseling center. Armed with certification of such a visit, abortion is not only legal, but supported by the governmental health care system. After a consultation, a woman who decides not to have an abortion is also entitled to government aid.
This is the second letter on this topic that the Holy Father has sent to the German Bishops. After the first letter of January 11, 1998, the majority of the Episcopal Conference voted to implement a plan for consultation and aid, including jobs and economic support and a new formulation of the certificate, to avoid this document being regarded as a justification of abortion.
The Pope accepted this proposal but has requested that the text of the certificate be extremely clear, as it concerns a most delicate matter. The requirement for women in crisis pregnancies to get counseling is commonly seen as simply a hurdle that has to be crossed before getting a legal abortion.
Thus, in the Pope's new letter, dated June 3 and made public today, John Paul II states, "So that the legal and moral quality of this document becomes unambiguous, I ask you to place it clearly in the actual text that the certificate that certifies counseling by the Church and giving right to the promised aid cannot be used to obtain a decriminalized abortion."
The Pope described the new document as stating simply the goal of counseling and aid (as in the text proposed by the German Bishops), but with one additional sentence: "This certificate cannot be used to for the performance of decriminalized abortions."
In the document written in response to the German Episcopate, the Pope acknowledges the commitment of the Bishops in defense of the right to life of the unborn and adds: "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."
Moreover, the Pontiff assures the Bishops that they will "find ways to offer the plan of consultation and aid not only to women who, because of their difficult situation, are unable to imagine life with a child, but also to other pregnant women, who have difficulties and need help."
The Pope concludes by encouraging all Catholics and non-Catholics alike
to commit themselves to the defense of life of all human beings, "the
born and the unborn, the elderly and youths, the sick and the healthy,
and to spare no effort so that in our time, which experiences so many
signs of death, a new culture of truth and love will finally be
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NEWS & VIEWS