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New appointments, new direction for Pontifical Academy for Life

June 13, 2017

Pope Francis has appointed 45 new members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, having eliminated all of the Academy’s members earlier this year.

Pope Francis has revised the statutes of the Pontifical Academy for Life and encouraged a new approach that gives less direct attention to the “culture of life” issues that has previously been the focus of the Academy. Because there had been no expiration date for the terms of members, the Pontiff chose to end all memberships and re-appoint some members to a new roster.

The most outspoken members of the Pontifical Academy were missing from the list of appointments announced by the Vatican on June 13. At least one new member—Nigel Biggar, an Oxford theologian—has suggested that abortion should be legal during the first 18 weeks of pregnancy.

Pope Francis also appointed five prominent officials of the old Pontifical Academy—including Cardinal Elio Sgreccia and Dr. Juan de Dios Vial Correa, former presidents of the body—to be “honorary members.”

The Pontifical Academy for Life had been forced to postpone its annual assembly earlier this year because of the lack of members. The assembly will now be held in October. The topic for the meeting has also been changed: from a discussion of Donum Vitae, the Vatican’s statement on artificial reproduction, to a broader forum on “new responsibilities in the technological era.”


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  • Posted by: - Jun. 15, 2017 1:39 PM ET USA

    Why was Mr. Bigger appointed when it's known in wider circles that he is in favor of abortion. Very sad to think the Academy for Life would have someone who favors the "Culture of Death"!!!

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Jun. 14, 2017 8:10 AM ET USA

    As usual, this appointment of Biggar has a funny moral aroma about it. "A little yeast leavens the whole loaf." Does this guy really understand fetal development and DNA?

  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Jun. 14, 2017 12:51 AM ET USA

    Perhaps the Pontifical Academy for Life should disband for lack of life.

  • Posted by: Jim Hanink - Jun. 13, 2017 7:56 PM ET USA

    If what's reported about Nigel Biggar is correct, and if he has not changed his view, what are we to think? First, we should rule out incompetence. Maybe Biggar's position simply wasn't known. Next up: misplaced alliance building. It's fine to invite pro-abortion people to dialogue. What's not fine is to invite them to serve on the Pontifical Academy for Life. Doing so slights the many pro-life thinkers who would better serve the Academy and also undermines its credibility.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Jun. 13, 2017 6:40 PM ET USA

    The barbarians continue to ravage the Church.