ROME, January 3, 2005 ( – Bishop Elio Sgreccia has been named by Pope John Paul II as the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.  Bishop Sgreccia, who for several years has served the Vatican’s chief spokesman on matters of bioethics and the “culture of life,” has been the vice-president of the Pontifical Academy. He moves up to replace Juan de Dios Vial Correa, a Chilean professor, who is stepping down as president upon reaching the age of 80.

The Pontifical Academy for Life was established by Pope John Paul II in 1994. The first president, the distinguished French scientist Jerome Lejeune, died shortly after his appointment.

As his appointment as president was announced by the Vatican on January 3, Bishop Sgreccia revealed that the statutes of the Pontifical Academy have been revised. Rather than a president and vice-president, the organization will now have a president and a chancellor. To fill the latter role, the Pope has appointed Msgr. Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, a priest of the prelature of Opus Dei and professor of bioethics at the Catholic University of Rome, who was already a member of the Academy.

Bishop Sgreccia told reporters that the Pontifical Academy has not altered its initial mission, which is to study issues involving the dignity of human life, and provide scientific and profession advice for the Holy See on those issues. Today, he said, the fields of study for the group include cloning, artificial means of reproduction, and euthanasia. He indicated that the need to offer clear moral guidance on these issues is particularly acute today, since “we cannot count on the laws, which yield to the will of the majority.” 

The Pontifical Academy continues also to work on older issues such as abortion. 

See some the previous reports on Bishop Sgreccia: 

Dutch Proposal for Euthanasia of Children Blasted by Vatican

Report from the International Congress: “Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State”

Italian Parliament Passes Restrictive IVF Law

Vatican Slams Embryo Research as “A Very Grave Act of Violence”

Vatican Condemns UN Abortion Pill Distribution in Kosovo