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Raped nuns in Bosnia raise abortion issue.

OXFORD, England -- Catholic religious women in Bosnia have shared the fate of their Muslim sisters and been raped as a deliberate act of policy. The issue of what happens if they become pregnant has been raised by a Franciscan priest from Reggio Emilia, Father Aldo Bergameschi.

"How can one reconcile," he asked, "Pope John Paul's exhortation to Bosnian women not to have abortions, with the fact that in the recent past the church allowed abortions in the case of nuns who have been raped?"

Bergameschi was thinking of the precedent of the Simba revolt in the Belgian Congo in the 1960s. But perhaps he has confused abortion after rape with the right to go on the pill in anticipation of rape. This was defended at the time in the name of the principle that everyone "has the right to repel an unjust -- and unwanted -- aggressor."

A former consulter of the Holy Office, who asked not to be named, has confirmed that "those who are not faced by a genuine conjugal act, which of its nature should be open to the transmission of life, may use the pill in advance or may get rid of the semen in the hours immediately after the act of violence." That is the "liberal" view among moralists.

It was rejected by Monsignor Pietro Pennachini, the new deputy director of the Vatican press office, who observed that "there are no official Vatican documents on this question."

"Maybe not," said Father Efrem Tresoldi, editor of the missionary magazine Nigrizia, "yet there are cases of sisters who were advised to take the pill. I don't know how many there were, but it is no mystery that it happened."

In ex-Yugoslavia is one documented case of two novices being raped by Serbian irregulars in the Banja Luka diocese in Bosnia. The Vatican advice was that they could leave the convent and have their children, or hand them over for adoption.
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Author:Hebblethwaite, Peter
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Date:Apr 2, 1993
Words:321
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