WASHINGTON -- Text of 'A Catholic Statement on Pluralism and Abortion' signed by nuns and which the Vatican is asking them to retract:
Continued confusion and polarization within the Catholic community on the subject of abortion prompts us to issue this statement.
Statements of recent popes and of the Catholic hierarchy have condemned the direct termination of pre-natal life as morally wrong in all instances. There is a mistaken belief in American society that this is the only legitimate Catholic position. In fact, a diversity of opinions regarding abortion exists among committed Catholics:
-A large number of Catholic theologians hold that even direct abortion, though tragic, can sometimes be a moral choice.
-According to data compiled by the National Opinion Research Center, only 11 percent of Catholics surveyed disapprove of abortion in all circumstances.
These opinions have been formed by:
-Familiarity with the actual experiences that lead women to make a decision for abortion.
-A recognition that there is no common and constant teaching on ensoulment in Church doctrine, nor has abortion always been treated as murder in canonical history.
-An adherence to principles of moral theology, such as probalism, religious liberty, and the centrality of an informed conscience.
-An awareness of the acceptance of abortion as a moral choice by official statements and respected theologians of other faith groups.
Therefore, it is necessary that the Catholic community encourage candid and respectful discussion on this diversity of opinion within the church, and that Catholic youth and families be educated on the complexity of issues of responsible sexuality and human reproduction.
Further, Catholics -- especially priests, religious, theologians, and legislators -- who publicly dissent from hierarchical statements and explore areas of moral and legal freedom on the abortion issue should not be penalized by their religious superiors, church employers, or bishops.
Finally, while recognizing and supporting the legitimate role of the hierarchy in providing Catholics with moral guidance on political and social issues adn in seeking legislative remedies to social injustices, we believe that Catholics should not seek the kind of legislation that curtails the legitimate exercise of freedom of religion and conscience or discrimination against poor women.
In the belief that responsible moral decisions can only be made in an atmosphere of freedom from fear or coercion, we, the undersigned call upon all Catholics to affirm this statement.