ROME (LifeSiteNews) – The John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family has called upon the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAL) to either publicly recant his recent support for current Italian abortion law or to be replaced by someone faithful to the Church’s teaching on the sanctity and inviolability of human life.
In a statement issued earlier this month, the John Paul II Academy pointed out that Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the President of the PAL, had offered an expression of positive support for the 1978 Italian Law 194, which legalized abortion in Italy. The assessment of the archbishop’s words run contrary to the interpretative spin the PAL tried to give to Paglia’s comments a few days later following public outcry over his statement.
Paglia’s comments were made in an interview with Italian Rai 3 programme Agorà. Asked by his interviewer for his opinion on the abortion law, the archbishop said, “I think that law 194 is now a pillar of our social life.” As the John Paul II Academy points out, when, to clarify his stance on the matter, Paglia was later asked if he would challenge the abortion law, the archbishop emphatically denied that he would do so, saying, “No, absolutely, absolutely!”
The John Paul II Academy condemned the statements of the prelate, calling attention to the millions of lives lost on account of the law as well as the constant and unchanging teaching of the Church on the grave sinfulness of abortion. “Archbishop Paglia explicitly defended a law that has caused more than 6 million abortions in Italy since 1978. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls that since the dawn of its history, the Church has condemned abortion and ‘this teaching has not changed. It remains invariable. Direct abortion, that is, abortion sought as an end or as a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law’ (No. 2271).”
“It would then be contradictory,” the Academy went on, “to declare oneself against abortion, but in favour of a law legitimising abortion, as is the case with the 194.”
The Academy also pointed out that the Church has expressly addressed the issue of legislation that directly allows the murder of innocent lives:
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s Instruction Donum Vitae recalls: “In various States some laws have authorised the direct suppression of the innocent: the moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation should accord them, the State comes to deny the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its force at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of those who are weaker, the very foundations of a constitutional state are undermined. […] As a consequence of the respect and protection that must be assured to the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for any deliberate violation of its rights” (Part III).
In the same vein is St. John Paul II, who in the Encyclical Evangelium vitae expressed himself as follows: “Laws which, by means of abortion and euthanasia, legitimise the direct suppression of innocent human beings are in total and irremediable contradiction with the inviolable right to life proper to all men. […] Laws authorising and favouring abortion and euthanasia are therefore radically opposed not only to the good of the individual but also to the common good and are therefore completely devoid of genuine legal validity. […] Abortion and euthanasia are therefore crimes that no human law can claim to legitimise” (nos. 72-73).
Drawing the conclusion that “Bishop Paglia’s words are in clear contradiction with the Church’s doctrine,” the John Paul II Academy lamented the scandal caused by such comments, a scandal heightened all the more by his leadership of the Pontifical Academy for Life, founded by Pope St. John Paul II precisely for the defense of the sanctity of life, especially of the unborn.
The statement read:
It therefore creates a deep scandal among the faithful and people of good will to learn that he who presides over the body which, in the Catholic Church, is called upon to defend human life at the international level in all its phases, considers a law that directly threatens life itself to be a pillar of Italian society: it is life and not death that should be one of the pillars of civil coexistence.
This disconcerting statement by Archbishop Paglia, together with his other similar less recent ones… place the PAV in clear discontinuity not only with its past, but with its very nature, with its very identity, with that project of protecting the human person from conception to natural death that was the foundation of the Pontifical Academy itself when it was erected in 2004 by St John Paul II.
In light of the scandal offered to the faithful by the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the John Paul II Academy called on Paglia to publicly correct his errors and reaffirm the PAL’s commitment to defend the life of the unborn. The Academy called for his dismissal and replacement should he refuse to do so.
The damage done to the teaching of the Church on the inviolability of innocent human life and the credibility of the PAV must be acknowledged and immediately undone. Archbishop Paglia must now in person publish a clear and unequivocal statement committing the Pontifical Academy for Life to the unconditional defence of the inviolability of innocent human life from conception until its natural end. If he does not he should be dismissed forthwith and replaced by a new head of the Pontifical Academy faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ and the teachings of His Church.