Click here to advertise on

Vatican officials offer differing views on dispute within Pontifical Academy for Life

Catholic World News - May 11, 2012

In contrasting statements about dissent within the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAL), a prominent Vatican cardinal found fault with PAL's internal critics, while the bishop who heads the dicastery offered them an apology.

Bishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, the president of the PAL, admitted that he may have upset pro-life activists with an April statement explaining the cancellation of a scheduled conference on stem-cell research. He acknowledged that the PAL announcement "contained unfortunate phrasing which, if misunderstood, could have offended the sensibilities of some persons.”

The PAL president said that he had not intended to "show any disrespect" for members of the group, and sought to allay their fears by stressing that the entire PAL is thoroughly committed to the Gospel of Life.

However, in a separate statement, the president for the Pontifical Council for Culture said that PAL members who are critical of the academy’s leadership suffer from “fundamentalist” attitudes.

“It’s necessary to have a precise identity,” said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi in reference to the internal disputes at the pontifical academy--“an identity that’s serious and well formed, not just fundamentalist.”

Cardinal Ravasi voiced his disagreement with the PAL critics who have said that the academy should not provide a forum for speakers who disagree with Church teachings. “Oftentimes this fear [of dialogue] stems from the fact that the person doesn’t feel capable of defending or justifying his own reasons, hence he doesn't want to listen to the other,” Cardinal Ravasi added.

The location of a conference matters, said Msgr. Michel Schooyans, a Belgian member of the academy. Inviting scientists who oppose Church teaching to a conference at the Vatican presents them an opportunity to “falsify the doctrine of the Church in respect to human life.”

“When you start compromising the Vatican you are starting a process that troubles public opinion,” Msgr. Schooyans added--leading Cardinal Ravasi to counter, “No, that’s not true.”

Additional sources for this story
Some links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Progress toward our July expenses ($34,059 to go):
$35,000.00 $941.00
97% 3%
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - May. 11, 2012 8:03 PM ET USA

    There is no excuse for this public feuding in the Vatican. The Pope should put a quick end to this disgraceful conduct. First we had cafeteria Catholics, then cafeteria Bishops, now it appears that we have cafeteria Dicasteries. Enough is enough!!

  • Posted by: normnuke - May. 11, 2012 12:37 PM ET USA

    The 'divide-to-conquer' campaign seems to have gone global (like warming). The weapon is the sneer, the imputed crime is 'fundamentalism'. We can expect lots more of this.

  • Posted by: jacobtoo - May. 11, 2012 10:31 AM ET USA

    Yeah, let 'em meet in that Jesuit church around the corner.

Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on

Recent Catholic Commentary

A Baptist leader with a message the Synod of Bishops should hear June 30
'Helpful' advice for social conservatives: ignore causes, deal with effects June 30
In the Aftermath of Obergefell June 30
The political outlook after Obergefell June 29
Good news/bad news on the Vatican PR overhaul June 29

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope approves process for holding bishops accountable in abuse cases CWN - June 10
Pope Francis’ 2nd encyclical released (includes link to full text) CWN - June 18
US Supreme Court rules all states must recognize same-sex marriage CWN - June 26
Archbishop Nienstedt, auxiliary bishop resign CWN - June 15
Cardinal Kasper: Pope never approved my proposal CWN - June 4