German Diocese Will Stop Issuing Abortion Certificates

Limburg Bishop Was the Last to Comply with Papal Request

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BERLIN, MARCH 8, 2002 ( The last German diocese to issue a certificate allowing women to procure an abortion has announced that it will quit the public system of consultation centers, as the Pope requested.

German bishops in general made this decision in 1999. Participation in the system required Catholic consultation centers to issue certificates to women who asked for advice. The women could then use the certificates to obtain an abortion legally.

In effect, this made the consultation centers implicit, if unintentional, accomplices to abortions.

Now, Bishop Franz Kamphaus of Limburg, the only prelate who had not complied with John Paul II´s request, received a letter from the Holy Father asking him to support the decision of his brothers in the episcopate.

Cardinal Karl Lehmann, president of the German episcopal conference, reported the news today, describing it as a «positive solution» that puts an end to «a long and difficult process.»

The papal decision to insist on an end to the issuance of the certificate, and to allow the bishop to remain in office, «reveals the esteem that John Paul II has shown for Kamphaus and his decision to appreciate the service of the bishop of Limburg to the Church,» Cardinal Lehmann added, in statements to the press.

According to the archbishop of Mainz, what was required for this decision was «availability for dialogue and the patience and sensitivity of all parties involved.»

«It is obvious that the Pope has intervened with a spirit of fraternity to offer a common witness of the Church and to maintain communion,» Cardinal Lehmann added.

He explained that to obey the Pope was a «painful decision at the personal level» for Bishop Kamphaus, who wished to keep the Catholic consultation centers in the public system, in order to reach more women.

In fact, Bishop Kamphaus did not conceal his disappointment. «Until the end I had hoped that we would arrive at a solution other than conflict,» he said. He said he would continue «to do what is possible for the poor and the diocese.»

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