Abortion debate among German Catholics flares up


Central Europe


Photo ZdK, Harald Oppitz

The president of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), Irme Stetter-Karp, is criticised for her statements on abortion, in which she said that abortions should become available everywhere in Germany and be a mandatory part of medical training.

Two theology professors, Katharina Westerhorstmann and Marianne Schlosser, religious philosopher Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz and the freelance journalist Dorothea Schmidt respond in a guest article for the German daily Welt by saying that mandatory training would be a “perversion of the medical profession”.

Stetter-Karp’s demand to actively secure the provision of abortion options in Germany in the future presupposes that abortion is a medical service that should be available everywhere and at all times and to which one has a right. “Only a good that corresponds to justice and thus to goodness can be distributed comprehensively in the ethical sense,” the four members of the synodal assembly countered the ZDK President. According to the Christian and legal view, abortion is not a legitimate good but an illegal procedure in most cases, which remains unpunished. The authors recall that abortion is wrong because it causes the death of a defenceless person. This reports the Catholic German daily Die Tagespost.

The authors also contradict Irme Stetter-Karp’s statement that her position corresponds to equality between women’s self-determination and the child’s right to life. “De facto, however, the right to life is subordinated to self-determination. However, for a woman who may feel compelled to have an abortion under massive internal or external pressure, this self-determination is only fiction,” the authors clarify.


An op-ed in Die Tagespost states that Catholics cannot compromise when it comes to protecting life. According to the article, Catholics can never tolerate abortions. As a historical example, the unnamed writer recalls Pope Pius XII, who in the encyclical “Casti connubii” (1930) stated that “that God is the judge and avenger of innocent blood, that cries out from earth to heaven”. In 1965, the Second Vatican Council called abortion a “despicable crime”. Pope Saint John Paul II, in his encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (1995), goes so far as to equate an attack on the life of an innocent and defenceless child in the womb with an attack on the life of God himself: “Whoever, therefore, after the life of a seeks men, God himself seeks life.”



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.