Vatican City, Mar 11, 2010 / 10:59 am
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi responded to an open letter this week sent to him by Christine de Vollmer, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. His response, in which he called one of de Vollmer's claims against him “deceptive” and “calumnious,” was discussed in a new column by Vatican analyst Sandro Magister.
In an open letter sent earlier this month, de Vollmer asked Fr. Lombardi to issue a formal clarification on his recent comments regarding a Feb. 19 statement written by a group of members from the Pontifical Academy of Life (PAV). In recent remarks to the press, Fr. Lombardi interpreted the group's statement as an official request for the resignation of the academy's president, Archbishop Rino Fisichella. However, de Vollmer claimed in her March 7 letter to Fr. Lombardi that this was neither her nor the other signatories intent in writing the Feb. 19 statement. Rather, she claimed that the group wrote the statement in order to deny claims by Archbishop Fisichella that the group was free of disagreement and disunity.
Archbishop Fisichella sparked controversy last March when he wrote an article for the Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano, appearing to defend doctors who performed an abortion on a nine-year-old rape victim pregnant with twins in Recife, Brazil.
De Vollmer's open letter also made reference to words reportedly said by the Vatican spokesman in support of the Recife situation while in Luanda, Angola in March 2009. Following an address at the time by Pope Benedict XVII in which the Pontiff denounced the idea of abortion being considered maternal health care, Fr. Lombardi allegedly stated in a press conference that “The Pope absolutely was not talking about therapeutic abortion, and did not say that this must always be rejected.”