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Pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia professor Rui Nunes. Rui Moreira / YouTube
Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Follow Matthew

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Catholic outcry spurs Vatican life academy to remove pro-euthanasia member

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Follow Matthew

July 19, 2019 (LifeSiteNews.com) — The Pontifical Academy of life (PAL), the Vatican’s advisory board regarding the values of life and family, has announced the removal of a Portuguese bioethicist from its membership because of his views on “end of life” issues, an apparent reference to his endorsement of euthanasia for those with terminal illnesses.

The decision to remove Professor Rui Nunes, president of the Portuguese Association for Bioethics, represents a deviation from the direction of the PAL under the leadership of Pope Francis and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia. In the last three years, Francis has removed strongly pro-life and pro-family members and has appointed individuals with a record of deviance from Catholic doctrines regarding bioethics, including pro-abortion University of Oxford professor Nigel Biggar; Professor Marie-Jo Thiel, who openly denounces the Catholic Church’s condemnation of sodomy and contraception; and Fr. Maurizio Chiodi, who claims that contraception may be morally obligatory.

Nunes was named for the position in late February of this year, and his appointment occurred in April. The PAL states in a press release that a review of his writings led to a reconsideration of the appointment, but Portuguese media sources say the review itself was provoked by an outcry by the Portuguese faithful regarding Nunes’s pro-euthanasia views.

“After several months, taking into account the publication of various articles in the Portuguese media as well as a more profound evaluation of the scientific work of the Professor regarding the end of life, the Academy decided, with the complete agreement of Professor Rui Nunes himself, to revoke the nomination by means of a letter that the president of this Academy signed and sent to the Portuguese professor,” the PAL stated in a press release published on its site.

The announcement follows statements made by Nunes in the Portuguese media endorsing “voluntary euthanasia” for patients who do not wish to continue living due to an illness. He is currently on a campaign to obtain a national referendum on the issue following the defeat of four different pro-euthanasia bills in 2018 and was advocating such a referendum as early as 2009.

Nunes’s longstanding position in favor of permitting the killing of the unborn was not mentioned in the PAL’s announcement.  As early as 2007, Nunes was advocating changing the ethical code of the Portuguese Order of Physicians, the nation’s medical association, to ethically permit abortions in cases of rape, deformity of the child, and danger to the mother’s health.

This year, he openly defended countries that allow people to kill their unborn children if they think they won’t have a good “quality of life,” stating to one reporter, “There are situations in which the reproductive autonomy of the woman justifies the voluntary interruption of pregnancy. Apart from cases of rape and risk to the mother’s health, it also applies to cases in which the expected quality of life of the fetus is so affected that it is proper for the mother or the couple to decide.”

The appointment of Nunes “was received with surprise by the Portuguese Catholic media, where Rui Nunes was already known, most of all because his positions regarding controversial issues like those related to bioethics had gradually distanced himself from the official doctrine of the Catholic Church,” writes the Portuguese news service Observador.

“Sources have told the Observador that the appointment created discomfort in the Catholic media, where the appointment was not understood. This discomfort, moreover, motivated a group of Portuguese Catholics to send to the Vatican a set of articles written by Rui Nunes on controversial issues like euthanasia and medically assisted procreation — articles that sought to change the Vatican’s opinion regarding its relationship with the Portuguese academic.”

Both the PAL and Nunes indicated that the professor would continue to work with the organization despite their “different visions,” only now on a more informal basis.

“In any case, we are certain that there will be more opportunities to work together on issues relevant to bioethics that will arise in the future, even with different visions and different anthropological and theological foundations,” stated the PAL in its press release.

The PAL and Professor Nunes “now understand that it would be more profitable to have a more informal collaboration, permitting a kind of collaboration in which Professor Rui Nunes can maintain all of his freedom and independence in the defense of problems linked to contemporary bioethics, particularly the defense of the Living Will, the implementation of policies of Gender Equality, or the application of the most modern technologies of Medically Assisted Procreation,” said Nunes himself in a press release.

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