Update: According to the Catholic Herald, one of the new members of the PAL is an explicit supporter of abortion: “Pope Francis has appointed 45 new ordinary members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, according to a statement on the Vatican website. They include Nigel Biggar, who has said that he thinks the limit for legal abortion should be 18 weeks.”
Today, the Vatican’s Press Office announced that Pope Francis has appointed (sometimes re-appointed) 45 new Ordinary and 5 Honorary Members of the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAL). As we had earlier reported, the pope had dismissed all the PAL members at the end of last year. There were speculations that he would later repopulate the PAL with new members who would go more along with his laxer progressive agenda of reform with regard to moral issues such as the protection of life and marriage.
OnePeterFive was especially concerned that some of the outspoken papal critics who had been previously members of the PAL would not be re-appointed. The following persons have, in one way or another, expressed objections to the papal agenda for the liberalization of the Church’s moral teaching on marriage and on natural life, as it was discussed during the two Synods of Bishops on Marriage and the Family, and as it was finally presented in Amoris Laetitia:
- Cardinal Carlo Caffarra. He co-authored the Five Cardinals Book and signed the dubia sent to Pope Francis;
- Cardinal Willem Eijk. He signed the 13 Cardinals Letter and co-authored the Eleven Cardinals Book;
- Cardinal Elio Sgreccia. He wrote a preface to a book written by Cardinal Ennio Antonelli defending the traditional Catholic teaching on marriage;
- Professor Josef Seifert. He wrote a detailed critique of Amoris Laetitia and asked for its clarification;
- Professor Robert Spaemann. He gave several interviews strongly opposing parts of Amoris Laetitia and supporting the Four Cardinals’ dubia.
- Professor Wolfgang Waldstein. He signed the Declaration of Fidelity with regard to the Catholic teaching on marriage.
- Dr. John Haas, President of the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) in Philadelphia who had made a corrective statement after Pope Francis’ troubling claims about contraceptives and the ZIKA virus.
A brief, but incomplete, review of the new members shows us that some of these papal critics have been, indeed, removed from the PAL. Among them are: Professor Robert Spaemann, Professor Wolfgang Waldstein, and Professor Josef Seifert. All these three professors have given their Catholic witness with regard to the confusing and potentially grave effects of the post-synodal exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. Cardinals Carlo Caffarra (one of the four dubia cardinals) and Elio Sgreccia have been re-appointed, but it would have been understandably difficult for Pope Francis not to have re-appointed them again. As we already reported, Cardinal Willem Eijk also has been re-appointed.
One troubling new member of the PAL is Professor Anne-Marie Pelletier (France) who is a strong supporter of the pope’s more liberalizing agenda with regard to marriage and the family. She had been a speaker at the controversial May 2015 Day of Studies in Rome as organized by the French, German, and Swiss Bishops’ Conferences.
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, posted the following statement on his twitter account:
“Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Academy, commented on the [papal] appointments, saying that “with these appointments Pope Francis has formed a College of academics of the highest professional standing that will offer to the Catholic Church and to the whole world a deep and wise vision in the service of human life, especially life that is weakest and most defenseless. The Academicians named by the Holy Father come from 27 countries around the world and are outstanding in diverse fields of human knowledge. Among them are a number of non-Catholics, either belonging to other religions and non-believers, a sign that the protection and promotion of [natural] human life knows no divisions [sic] and can be assured only [sic] through common endeavor.” With respect to the appointment of Honorary Members, Archbishop Paglia noted that, “They represent the history of the Academy and a passion for [natural] human life for which we must all be grateful; it is thanks to the earlier work of so many illustrious men and women that today, with the appointment of new Academicians, our institution continues its service to life with renewed energy.” [emphasis added]
This extended quote might give us a fuller idea as to where Pope Francis wishes to lead the ecumenical Pontifical Academy for Life. It seems that some of our earlier concerns were not unfounded.
H/T Edward Pentin Twitter
Dr. Maike Hickson, born and raised in Germany, studied History and French Literature at the University of Hannover and lived for several years in Switzerland where she wrote her doctoral dissertation. She is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.
Her articles have appeared in American and European journals such as Catholicism.org, LifeSiteNews, The Wanderer, Culture Wars, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Apropos, and Zeit-Fragen.