By ELENA BECATOROSSerbian Church says no Communion for abortion practitioners
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (March 15, 2000) - The Serbian Orthodox Church on Wednesday urged its priests to withhold Holy Communion from medical professionals who perform abortions.
A letter demanding Serbian Orthodox priests "not to grant Holy Communion" to doctors and midwives known to perform abortions was sent from the Church's highest body, the Holy Synod, to all Serbian Orthodox archbishops and their dioceses, the independent Beta news agency reported.
"Abortion is a grievous sin before God, condemned by the Scriptures," the Synod's letter read. "As such, it threatens the entire Serbian nation with biological extermination."
The ban, which also includes Eucharist, coincides with the beginning of the Orthodox Lent, a seven-week fasting period leading up to the Orthodox Easter on April 30.
It is to hold until "penitence" from the offending doctors and midwives.
Abortion has never been an issue in Serbia, as it is widely and liberally performed under Serbian law.
The influential Serbian Orthodox Church, however, has lately been concerned with the sharp decline in birthrate among Serbs.