By Judie Brown
The gentleman in the forefront of my mind today is Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, reigning president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life.
Paglia has recently raised concern among several individuals—including yours truly, who as a past member of the Academy, finds the latest news both troubling and scandalous. According to Paglia’s spokesman, Fabrizio Mastrofini, Paglia’s recent comments have been taken out of context. But as I dig deeper into this situation, I find Mastrofini’s comments a bit insincere.
Paglia indicated his acceptance of Italy’s abortion law, which he discussed when he was asked about upcoming elections in Italy. Paglia said: “I think that Law 194 is now a pillar of our social life.” By saying this, Paglia indicated—whether intentionally or otherwise—that he felt the abortion law was valid because it is the law. And to be clear, this law has legitimized the killing of more than six million children since its passage in 1978.
If this sounds like shades of America’s calamitous experience with our laws that legitimized abortion by Supreme Court fiat in 1973, then you can understand my horror. How could any prelate surrender to the decriminalized status of aborting babies regardless of what the law does or does not say?
Rubbing salt into the wound created by Paglia’s comments, his spokesman attempted to exonerate him by saying: “To question Paglia’s opposition to abortion overlooks the fact that in late May he took part in a ceremony organized by Italy’s largest pro-life movement in which he blessed a statue of Mary with Jesus in her womb.”
We are not quite sure how acceptance of an abortion law equates with a statue being blessed, but what we are certain of is that Paglia has piled criticism upon himself because of his poor choice of words. And frankly, this is not the first time.
The Academy of which Paglia is president recently published a synthesis of its most recent meetings with insights by Paglia, who describes a “paradigm shift” in Catholic teaching on bioethical questions, including contraception. He opined that the publication represents “a fundamental exposition of the Christian vision of life, illustrated in its existential aspects that are most relevant to the dramatic nature of the human condition and addressed from the perspective of an anthropology that is appropriate to the cultural mediation of faith in today’s world.”
Or in plain English, he encourages dialogue on fundamental Church teachings such as those directly related to contraception and other matters pertinent to the defense and protection of innocent human beings. Some members of the Academy, thank God, were shocked by Paglia’s words, but the point is that as president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Paglia has shed doubt on fundamental Catholic principles. The question is why?
We can say without hesitation that one of the main reasons for this outrage is that the Academy has members who concur with Paglia’s dissent. Father Maurizio Chiodi, for one, speaks as a member of the Academy who opines that Humanae Vitae itself may be changed given current conditions versus the time when the encyclical was written. If you are asking how an infallible teaching can be altered, then you are as troubled by these events as we are.
Infallible teachings on matters of faith and morals can never be changed! And that is fact.
That is why we find this situation appalling, not to mention the fact that from its founding in 1994, members of the Pontifical Academy for Life were asked to sign a statement of principle that would have negated the hint of the scandals we are witnessing today. But times have changed, as witnessed by the 2016 announcement that the academy and all its members would be dismissed. The following year the academy was reconstituted—a very strange turn of events indeed.
The result was the end of strength in defending Catholic doctrine and the beginning of politics in the Academy!
How opposed is Paglia to abortion? Well, we cannot read his mind, but as far as we are concerned, something evil is afoot!