German diocese, Vatican compromise on counseling

Posted: Friday, January 26, 2001

LIMBURG, Germany (AP) -- A Roman Catholic diocese has reached a deal with the Vatican that allows its anti-abortion program to continue offering certificates of counseling to women who may then seek a legal abortion.

Bishop Franz Kamphaus of Limburg said the compromise would allow him to continue offering the certificates until the end of the year. They serve as proof of counseling and must be obtained by women in Germany to legally have an abortion.

About 20,000 women seek abortion counseling in Catholic-run centers each year, and church officials say at least 5,000 of them decide afterward not to have an abortion.

''The idea is namely to maintain a presence, where life is at its greatest risk, with women who are uncertain whether they should abort their child or not,'' Kamphaus said.

The German Bishops Conference, which decided in 1999 to comply with the pope's request to stop issuing the certificates, said it welcomed Kamphaus' agreement with the Vatican. Germany's other dioceses have already ceased to issue the certificates, although many continue to offer counseling.

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