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Pope appoints lay Curial official to help direct Pontifical Academy for Life

January 12, 2023

Pope Francis has appointed Gleison De Paula Souza, 38, to the six-member Governing Council of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

According to the Academy’s statutes, which were promulgated by Pope Francis in 2016, the Governing Council assists the President (Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia) and Chancellor (Father Renzo Pegoraro) in giving direction to the academy and suggesting new members to the Pontiff for appointment.

Born in Brazil, De Paula Souza was a member of the Sons of Divine Providence from 2005 to 2016. He studied for the priesthood in Rome, left the community before his ordination, and is now married and has children. He received his bachelor’s degree in theology from the Salesian Pontifical University in 2015 and his master’s degree in philosophical sciences from the University of Salento (Italy) in 2019.

De Paula Souza was teaching religion at a high school in Galatina, a small city in southern Italy, when Pope Francis appointed him the Secretary, or second-ranking official, of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life less than two months ago. He remains in that influential position as he undertakes his new concurrent duties at the Pontifical Academy for Life.

The Pontifical Academy for Life was beset by controversies in 2022. It published Theological Ethics of Life. Scripture, Tradition, Practical Challenges, which questioned the Church’s teaching on contraception.

In October, Pope Francis appointed supporters of legalized abortion, as well as persons who had made ambiguous statements related to abortion, as ordinary members of the Academy—even though the Academy’s statutes state that ordinary members must be chosen “on the basis of their academic qualifications, proven professional integrity, professional expertise and faithful service in the defense and promotion of the right to life of every human person” (emphasis added). Both the Pontifical Academy for Life and Pope Francis himself came to the defense of the appointment of Mariana Mazzucato, a pro-abortion economist, to the Academy.

 


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