DAILY CATHOLIC    TUESDAY     November 23, 1999     vol. 10, no. 222

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Requests Reorganization of Assistance to Pregnant Women in Difficulty

        VATICAN CITY, NOV 21 (ZENIT).- Yesterday, the third group of German bishops who are in Rome for their 5-year "ad limina" visit to the Pope and the Holy See, concluded their meeting with a concelebrated Mass with the Holy Father. John Paul II addressed a number of doctrinal issues, including: obedience to the Church, unanimous and unequivocal defense of human life, observance of substantial difference between clergy and laity, and impossibility of priestly ordination of women.

    Church is a Mystery, Not a "Business"

        Above all, the Holy Father addressed in depth the fundamental aspects of the Church's identity. A "partial or selective reading of the Council and a unilateral presentation of the Church as a purely institutional structure, deprived of her mystery, have caused grave deficiencies, especially in certain lay associations that consider the Church critically as a mere institution. As a result, many claim the right to construct the Church as though it was some kind of 'business,' governed by more or less intelligent men." When one believes in the mystery of the Church, founded by Christ, one realizes that it is not "ours" but "his," the Holy Father clarified.

        The Pontiff admitted the difficulty of being a bishop in Germany today because of the action of some groups who, by concerted and insistent pressure, try to implement changes in the Church that are not in keeping with her identity. Because of this, John Paul II exhorted the bishops "not to allow any human authority to weaken the indissoluble ties that exist between them and Peter's successor."

    Reorganization of Help to Pregnant Women

        The Pope also referred to the case of the Church's consultation centers for pregnant women who want an abortion according to German law. Above all, the Pope stressed the need for unanimous and unequivocal episcopal witness in defense of life. The Holy Father said that the important activity carried out by the Church in Germany, of giving advice and help to pregnant women in difficulty, must be reorganized once and for all according to directives given in his letters to the German episcopate.

        "I am convinced that an ecclesial consultation that is known for its quality, is an eloquent sign to society and constitutes an effective means to encourage women in difficulty not to reject the new life they carry in their womb."

        After emphasizing the fundamental difference that exists between the royal priesthood of believers and the ministerial priesthood, the Holy Father said that one must reject, as being against Christ's will, any attempt to clericalize the laity or vice versa. And he added: "the Church has no power whatsoever to confer the priestly consecration on women, and all the faithful of the Church are obliged to observe this decision without any discussion," which decision has the "character of infallibility associated with the ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Church."

        "Nevertheless, we must support those who do not understand or accept the Church's teaching, so that they will be able to open their heart and mind to the challenge imposed by faith," the Holy Father concluded. ZE99112101

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

November 23, 1999       volume 10, no. 222


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