Catholic World News

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

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.”

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  • 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.