Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued the instruction, which was initially reported in German newspaper Die Tagespos.
German law requires counseling before a woman has an abortion and German clergy considered the program to provide a way to persuade women not to have one.
However, the program also involves the issuing of a certificate “allowing” the abortion if the woman is not persuaded to keep her baby. The Vatican sees this as an endorsement of abortion and a violation of Church teaching on life issues, reported LifeNews.com.
In 1998, Pope John Paul II asked German clergy to stop issuing certificates, indicating that they had counseled pregnant women considering an abortion.
Die Tagespos reported that the Catholic Church in Germany officially asked parishioners in June 2006 to not work with Donum Vitae, but the Vatican now wants a more active enforcement of that request.
There are about 1,500 counseling clinics in Germany; about 250 are run by Donum Vitae.
The Vatican has instructed the German bishops to distance themselves from an abortion counseling group, called Donum Vitae, so that they will not be perceived as endorsing abortion, reported LifeNews.com yesterday.