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Catholic leaders and scientists urge reform after Vatican hosts population control advocates

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ROME, November 20, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A group of prominent scientists and lay Catholic leaders is calling on the Holy See to reform its administration of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS) and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS), denouncing the influence that population control advocates are having at those Academies’ events. 

In a 12-page statement issued today, the signers detail how many prominent organizers and speakers at Academy conferences have a consistent record of advocating for methods of population control, including abortion, contraception and sterilization, in direct contravention of clear Catholic moral teaching.

“At the very heart of the matter is that the academies are being misused by major proponents of population control seeking to gain the Church’s moral authority for their programs,” said Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute, one of the statement’s authors. “Our hope in publishing this statement is to seek meaningful reforms so the academies can fulfill their original mandates without the danger of being manipulated for political purposes.”

Other signers of the letter include: ecologist Dr. Glenn Juday; Jay H. Lehr, PhD, senior scientist at AR Environmental Services Inc. and Science Director at The Heartland Institute; William M. Briggs, PhD, Professor at the Cornell Medical School and Meteorologist with the National Weather Service; Harold H. Doiron, PhD, Retired NASA Scientist; John-Henry Westen, editor-in-chief and co-founder, LifeSiteNews.com; Judie Brown, President of American Life League; and Steven Mosher, President of Population Research Institute.

“The Pontifical Academies, in their focus on issues of global environmental challenges and human development, have been importing secularist values, perspectives, and philosophies into their documents and statements,” the statement says, “making it appear as if the Church was morally uncertain and is holding open different views on core teachings at the heart of Gospel teaching on matters of grave importance.”

“The Church cannot accept, especially implicitly, that humanity can contracept and abort its way to a healthy environment, economy, or society.”

Allowing the Academies to continue as is would be “disastrous,” they argue. “Because of the gravely serious nature of the problems identified herein, the reality is that leaving these issues unaddressed could be disastrous; human lives, and more importantly, immortal souls, are at great risk.”

The groups says a “prominent theme” found in the works of experts consulted by the Pontifical Academies has been “a consistent, even zealous, tendency to identify “excessive” human population as the fundamental cause of environmental problems,” and these ideologies are ultimately reflected in some Academy documents.

“Yet the leadership of the Pontifical Academies consistently engages in selective invitation of experts who are leading advocates of morally problematic approaches, and provides a privileged forum for their views, which inevitably carries an implied endorsement by the Church,” they say. “This pattern confuses Catholic lay faithful and those who observe the Church from the outside, and needs to be reformed before a virtual counter magisterium is set up under the sponsorship the Church Herself.”

The current Pontifical Academy of Sciences (established in 1936) and Pontifical Academy of Social Science (established in 1994) are advisory groups tasked with providing experiential findings to the Church without regard to the religious background (or lack thereof) of its members. Expertise in religion, philosophy, or theology is not a criterion for appointment to the academies, and these subjects are not particular competencies of their work.

LifeSiteNews has reported extensively on the troubling associations between the PAS, the PASS and advocates of population control, abortion and contraception.

The statement proposes five solutions for a reform of the two Pontifical Academies:

  1. re-establish the proper relationship between science and the religious mission of the Church;
  2. regain trust with Catholic scholars by opening the dialogue to the full range of perspectives on environmental problems, particularly policies and solutions;
  3. reform the standards for selection of scholars participating in Academy events so that notorious advocates against the Church’s moral teachings are not provided a platform;
  4. focus the Academies on developing a better understanding of empirical information on the current, actual state of human demographic trends rather than the alarmist assumptions of past decades; and
  5. reform the management of the Pontifical Academies.

“The Church has great respect for the integrity of the scientific method,” said ecologist Dr. Glenn Juday, who co-authored the statement with Hichborn. “Resolving the serious environmental and human development problems that confront the world requires both the insights of science and moral and ethical guidance.”

“The Church needs to reform her administration of the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Sciences so that ethical shortcuts are clearly rejected, and the value and dignity of innocent human life is upheld,” Juday continued. “The proper conduct of science and the religious mission of the Church should be harmonious.”

The full statement and list of signatories is available here.

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