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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 36, No 11 May 30th, 1973

Pregnant Nuns

Pregnant Nuns

Dear Sirs,

I read with some difficulty Colin Feslier's obscure attempt to prove the Catholic Church's consistent opposition to abortion which appeared the May I Salient. He argues that a foetus has committed no crime and therefore, unlike an "unjust aggressor", has not lost its "right to life". Putting aside such trivialities as the blessing which sections of the Catholic hierarchy such as Cardinal Spell man have given to the American government's unilateral withdrawal of the "right of life" of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, I thought Colin might be interested in re-examining the Catholic Church's consistent opposition to abortion in the light of a news report which I recently came across. It is an NZPA dispatch from Hamburg which appeared in the January 20 1967 Christchurch Press, under the heading "Church Allowed Abortion:"

"European nuns who became pregnant after being raped by Congolese soldiers in July, 1960, were allowed by their Church superiors to undergo abortions, the bi-weekly magazine, "Deutsches Panorama", reported yesterday.

"The Catholic Church and the parties and government closely associated with it, the magazine commented, 'are likely from now on to have more difficulty opposing all interruptions of pregnancy on the grounds that it would be murder.'

"Most of the raped nuns who became pregnant, 'Deutsches Panorama' said, were Vincential Sisters of Charity working in the Congo as nurses and teachers. After their ordeal they returned to Belgium.

"Until recently, the magazine said, the public had assumed the nuns who became pregnant had been released from their vows and had delivered babies.

'"What really happened,' the magazine said, 'remained a closely guarded secret for many years. A leading Belgian gynaecologist, Dr Jean Snocck, a Brussels university professor, only now has revealed it — not for reasons of sensationalism but in order.as he put it, to call attention to a crying injustice, and not publicly, but before only a small circle of leading Belgian physicians and scientists.'

"The magazine continued: 'Soon after the developments in the Congo, Professor Jean Snoeck explained, certain high-placed persons made it known to certain leading specialists in the field of gynaecology that the otherwise forbidden operations could be undertaken in certain special cases, with the specific approval if not at the suggestion of the highest Catholic authorities.

"The certain special cases, Professor Snoeck explained, were the nuns who became pregnant because of rape. He added that it was incomprehensible to him why that which is forbidden to a 16 year old student who is raped by a white-skinned drunk should be permitted in these special cases.

"'However, Professor Snoeck and his colleagues — also Catholics of Belgium and the whole world — see this crying injustice simultaneously as a hope, namely, as a sign of a basic change in the Church's view.'"

Or perhaps it is just that a black foetus doesn't even amount to a potential human being in the eyes of the Church hierarchy. Well, Colin?

Mike Goodger

Cartoon To The Editor

Cartoon To The Editor