Head of Pope Francis’ pro-life academy denies ‘reinterpreting’ teaching on contraception
“It’s a totally false opinion,” Paglia told interviewer Mirosław Tykfer of Przewodnik Katolicki, a Polish Catholic magazine. “Whoever [repeats] it should go ask forgiveness because he speaks a falsehood.”
Nevertheless, the controversial archbishop has introduced several innovations to the Academy for Life, including at least one pro-abortion member and a new focus on the environment, mass migration, economic oppression, slavery, and the threat of nuclear war.
When Father Tykfer doubted that this “broadening” would help better defend life from its conception to natural death, Paglia argued that it would. “How can one support life, for example, if old people are left alone?” he asked. “Or if we allow children to die in the Mediterranean Sea without doing anything? Or if the death penalty is upheld or war is deemed justified?”
Among the many challenges Paglia lists as facing the Church and all humanity is the threat of a global environmental disaster: “We face the possibility — for the first time in human history — that the Great Flood of the Bible could happen — to the letter. The Church, who is mother and teacher to all humanity, can’t stand around watching.”
The revamped Academy for Life has invited collaboration and representatives from other Christian traditions and other religions. When Tykfer suggested that this might weaken Catholic doctrine and that the Academy is liberalizing traditional teaching, Paglia protested.
“This affirmation is absolutely false and calumnious,” he said. “The Academy — as I have already said — always defends life, without ifs or buts. If anything, the Academy is even busier at defending the Gospel of Life. … You can’t be ‘pro-life’ only for certain times in life: you can’t be ‘pro-life’ against abortion and keep silent before the new massacres of elderly people that are now being implemented in our societies. You can’t be ‘pro-life’ against euthanasia and keep silent before border closures, allowing those who flee war and hunger to die during their flight. On these matters, we must broaden our alliances.”
Paglia cited in particular the pro-abortion Anglican chosen by the Archbishop of Canterbury as his representative at the Academy (Nigel Biggar). “Someone has attacked the Academy for having welcomed [him],” said Paglia. “I’ve already clarified elsewhere about the problem of his affirmation of abortion in a debate against a professor who was a firm proponent of abortion. It’s a sentiment we don’t share. But this scientist, who wishes to defend life anyway, is among those who effectively argue against euthanasia in a manner totally consistent with the Catholic Church.”
Paglia cited the legacy of John Paul II many times. Regarding the new ecumenical, interreligious collaboration in the Academy for Life, he referred to the first World Day of Prayer for Peace. “If I may be permitted a comparison,” he said, “it’s the strategy of Saint John Paul II when he called to Assisi in 1986 the leaders of the great world religions to call upon God for peace. Who knows what could have happened if there hadn’t been the ‘Spirit of Assisi’?”
In an editorial introducing the interview to his readers, Tykfer admits that he might not be objective about Archbishop Paglia’s new strategy, as Paglia is a co-founder of the San Egidio society, to which Tykfer belongs. He also notes that the Polish media, like other media, has unleashed an “avalanche of criticism” regarding Paglia’s innovations. However, Tykfer finds this somewhat unjustified. While recognizing concerns about Professor Biggar, he believes that Paglia’s broadening of the Academy’s scope is “a good idea” and in keeping with Saint John Paul II’s desire for interreligious dialogue.
“The new pro-life strategy is heading in the right direction,” he concluded.