Featured Image
University of Oxford Professor Nigel Biggar was appointed to the Academy by Pope Francis.

ROME, June 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Among the 45 new members Pope Francis has appointed to the Pontifical Academy for Life is an Anglican minister who has argued that abortion should be legal until “18 weeks after conception.”

University of Oxford Professor Nigel Biggar, who was appointed to the Academy for a five-year term, stated in a 2011 dialogue with pro-infanticide ethicist Peter Singer that a preborn baby is “not…the same kind of thing as an adult or a mature human being” and therefore does not deserve “quite the same treatment.”

“I would be inclined to draw the line for abortion at 18 weeks after conception, which is roughly about the earliest time when there is some evidence of brain activity, and therefore of consciousness,” he said as reported by Standpoint magazine.

Then, one year later, when he was the keynote speaker for an event at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, he said that “it is not true that all abortion is equivalent to murder.”

When LifeSiteNews asked Biggar if his appointment to the Academy indicated that the Church under Francis is shifting gears on abortion, he said that as someone who is not Roman Catholic, he did not think it appropriate to comment on the Church's position.

“I am very sorry to disappoint you, but the issue of abortion is one on which I have views, but it is not one that I have thought about for a very long time,” he said. 

“I believe that the reason for my recent appointment lies in my sustained work on the issues of voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide. On those issues my conclusions are consonant with the Church's,” he added.

At Oxford, Biggar serves as Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, and Director of the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life. He is also a Canon of Christ Church Cathedral.

The appointment of an academic who supports legal abortion to the Academy founded in 1994 by St. Pope John Paul II comes as a shock, especially given the Academy’s head, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, recently assuring that the new members would be “truly representative of all who value life at all its stages.”

“Related to that is my hope that, when the Holy Father announces the new and renewed membership of the Academy, the Membership will be seen as not only talented and accomplished, but also as truly representative of all who value life at all its stages, who understand life’s joys, sorrows, challenges and satisfactions, and who are committed to the realization of the great purposes for which our Lord God has brought life itself into the world,” Paglia stated in a June 6th interview with National Catholic Register.

Despite Biggar’s selection, Paglia tweeted today that the members chosen are “committed to the sanctity and promotion of life.”

Pope Francis began his overhaul of the Academy last year by creating new statutes, that among other things, no longer required that members sign a declaration to uphold the Church’s pro-life teachings. The Pope’s next move was to then remove all of the academy members while promising to make new appointments himself. 

Former academy member Judie Brown wrote in an article earlier this year that she was shocked by what she called Francis’ move to “deconstruct” the Academy that was once considered a bastion of orthodoxy. 

“The Pontifical Academy for Life is undergoing an overhaul by Pope Francis and his political operatives within the Vatican’s hierarchy, and it is one of the most heartbreaking events I have seen in my lifetime. But given the politics of the Vatican, it is not surprising,” she wrote at that time.