Pope Francis and the Pontifical Academy for Life: Part III
By Judie Brown
Following the events of 2012 I remained undeterred in my attempts to garner support from the Pontifical Academy for Life for efforts American Life League was pursuing at home and abroad. This took me back to Rome in 2014 with a request for Academy president Bishop Carrasco de Paula to help us get a document on the subject of Planned Parenthood into Pope Francis’ hands.
The report entitled “The Vatican Can Help Save Souls from Planned Parenthood in 2015” outlined Planned Parenthood’s denial that God is the Author of Life, explained Planned Parenthood’s efforts to target young people with its vile programs, and gave examples of Planned Parenthood’s work around the world to marginalize Catholic leadership, including many bishops.
Bishop de Paula was duly impressed; he encouraged us to publicize the report far and wide in the Vatican, assuring us that he would do his part as well to see that the Holy Father actually became familiar with it. Sadly, as with all that we had attempted in recent years, our efforts ultimately had no result. The Vatican remained silent. It was as if those glowing words from de Paula and others were meaningless. I was baffled.
The truth of the matter, as we all now realize, is that the Academy itself was destined to disappear in the reorganization of a Vatican bureaucracy that appears to have little concern for the fate of millions of God’s preborn children around the world.
In fact, the most recent Pope Francis appointee to hold the office of president of the gutted Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, is himself controversial. Not only was Paglia investigated for alleged involvement in a property scam—a charge he denied—but he has promoted the questionable Vatican sex education program entitled The Meeting Point and commissioned an erotic painting for his church.
The troubling nature of these allegations alone should have led Pope Francis in a different direction, but sadly it did not. This fundamental fact is the most troubling to me. On the one hand we have the clear teaching of the Catholic Church regarding respect for the dignity of the human person. On the other, we have the debilitated Pontifical Academy for Life, weakened by a pope whose agenda is a mystery to us.
We had hoped the Pontifical Academy for Life would continue voicing the truth as taught by so many saints and doctors of the Church. Even in the earliest days of the Church when Church doctors argued over whether the preborn was fully formed or not, there was agreement that abortion is a grave evil. St. Basil the Great found the distinction between formed and unformed too subtle to be a morally relevant teaching, saying, “A woman who deliberately destroys a fetus is answerable for murder. And any fine distinction as to its being completely formed or unformed is not admissible amongst us.”
Early Church writings taught that it was the humanity of the child that compelled us to defend him against the deadly act of abortion. And it is this teaching that became the cornerstone of Saint John Paul II’s legacy and the founding principle for the Pontifical Academy for Life. As the sainted pope wrote in Evangelium Vitae: “The moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder and, in particular, when we consider the specific elements involved. The one eliminated is a human being at the very beginning of life. No one more absolutely innocent could be imagined.”
Yet today the Pontifical Academy for Life has lost its way, not to mention its members. Pope Francis has created a void that cannot be undone unless he experiences a reversal in his thinking.
The Catholic Church’s authentic teachings have always embodied the clarity of truth unencumbered by political influences, nuances, and confusion. Not so today.
It is my fervent hope that our Holy Father revisits this matter and rights the ship before it totally sinks in the quicksand of compromise. He could surely take a positive step in that direction by reconstituting the membership of the Academy and reinstituting the “Declaration of the Servants of Life” for members of the Academy, requiring them to adhere steadfastly to Church teaching, particularly on matters pertinent to the defense and protection of innocent human beings.
We pray for the Holy Father, asking the Lord to guide him. And we wait—hoping for and relying on the divine will.
Join American Life League as we defend the truth by teaching it with our Culture of Life Studies Program, by showing others how to live it with our Life Defenders program, and when arming others for battle with our Stop Planned Parenthood International program.