Church in Germany to expand aid for women in difficulty

Consultation Centers Will Not Grant Abortion Certificates

FULDA, Germany, OCT. 5, 2000 ( Poised to stop issuing
certificates that inadvertently gave access to abortion, Germany´s Catholic
bishops vowed to continue to help women in crisis pregnancies.

Last week the bishops´ conference´s autumn plenary assembly again addressed
the thorny problem of Catholic Consultation Centers that help pregnant
women, some of whom wish to abort.

Presenting the assembly´s conclusions Sept. 30, Bishop Karl Lehmann of
Mainz said: “We will continue to help women in difficulty, respecting the
Pope´s wishes.”

To receive state funding, the Catholic Consultation Centers by law had to
issue a certificate proving that the women had been interviewed. The
certificate, however, could be used by a woman as an indispensable
requirement to have abortion with no penal consequences.

In effect, the centers were issuing a document that gave free access to
abortion, which caused confusion among the faithful. A dilemma arose, as
the Church did not wish to leave pregnant women in need unaided.

A year ago, in response to a question presented by the German bishops, John
Paul II requested that the centers give advice but not grant the certificate.

By year´s end, the Catholic centers will no longer grant the certificates.
Tthe Church plans to continue to help pregnant women in difficulty, with a
greater range of services, including financial help and assistance in
finding a home.

The centers also will launch an advertising campaign to assure women of
their willingness to assist them.

In other matters:

–The bishops criticized the decision of the center-left government, led by
Gerhard Schröder, to give homosexual couples the same juridical standing as
married couples.

–Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, archbishop of Munich, appealed to the plenary
assembly: “Too many Christians have left the Church and the Gospel,
including many Catholics, who seem to consider Jesus Christ as if he was
just one more teacher of religion.”