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Vatican defends new pro-abortion appointee at pro-life academy: abortion not his ‘focus’

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Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia.

ROME, Italy, June 19, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, has doubled down in defending a new member appointed by Pope Francis to the Academy who has argued that abortion should be legal until “18 weeks after conception.”

Paglia said that while the appointee’s pro-abortion stance is “not my personal position, and much less the Academy,” he nevertheless defended the recent selection of pro-abortion University of Oxford Professor Nigel Biggar.

“The nomination of Professor Biggar was directly recommended by the Primate of the Anglican Church, Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who was recently asked to single out a representative,” said Paglia in a June 19 interview with Vatican Insider’s Andrea Tornielli.

“The controversy was born following the rediscover [sic] of a 2011 dialogue between Biggar and Peter Singer’s [sic], who is renown for his permissible views on abortion, in which he says to be inclined to draw the line for abortion at 18 weeks after conception, in terms of — and I quote — ‘maintaining a strong social commitment to preserving human life in hindered forms, and in terms of not becoming too casual about killing human life,’” continued Paglia. 

“This is certainly not my personal position, and much less the Academy. It should be added, however, that Biggar, whom we have contacted these days, has published nothing on the subject of abortion —  Biggar’s academic focus is rather on end-of-life matters, ‘where he has a position that coincides with Catholicism — Biggar also assured that He does not intend to enter into the debate on this issue in the future,’” he added. 

When Pope Francis’ biographer, Austen Ivereigh, tweeted that “having non-Catholics & those with diff positions in Ac for Life facilitates dialogue with world, & makes Vatican witness more credible,” Paglia tweeted agreement to Ivereigh.

In the Vatican Insider interview, Paglia called Catholics “foolish” for thinking Biggar’s appointment signaled that the Academy was no longer fully committed to defending life at every stage. 

“It would be foolish to even think of a change. The Pontifical Academy for Life, as specified in the new Statute signed by Pope Francis, aims at ‘promoting and defending human life and the dignity of the person’ through research, training and education (Article 1). We are therefore serving and defending life, from the very first moment of its conception to the last breath. Nothing and no one will ever change this clear orientation. We will go everywhere to convince as many as possible,” he said. 

Paglia then said that appointing a pro-abortion member such as Biggar is a way for the academy “to come out.” The phrase “to come out” is used almost exclusively by the homosexual lobby when speaking about those who make a public declaration of their same-sex attraction or relationship with someone of the same sex. 

“In this sense, the Academy is also called ‘to come out,’” Paglia said, speaking of Biggar’s appointment. “I would like to repeat that again: We will always be against every abortion practice. And we want to get more and more personalities involved in this battle. There is a need to broaden both the people and the battles. The big issues that mark our time must be addressed together, patiently earning the utmost possible consensus,” he added. 

Paglia has come under scrutiny by global life-and-family leaders for a number of scandalous actions, including: 

  • Commissioning a massive homoerotic painting in his Cathedral in which he appeared clasped to a semi-naked man. 
  • Overseeing the release of the Vatican’s sex-ed program The Meeting Point that bypassed parents as the primary educators of their children and contained sexually explicit images and movie recommendations. 
  • Expressing unqualified admiration during a public debate for deceased Italian Radical Party founder Marco Pannella, one of the country’s most notorious proponents of the culture of death.

After news broke last week of Biggar’s appointment, Paglia accused Catholic media of “sensationalism” for highlighting the pro-abortion pick. 

Catholics who follow the Vatican were shocked last week when news broke of Biggar’s appointment

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 Biggar was the keynote speaker for an event at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, he said "it is not true that all abortion is equivalent to murder."

Paglia’s claim that Biggar’s position on end-of-life matters “coincides with Catholicism” is not accurate. 

In a review of Biggar's 2004 book titled Aiming to Kill: The Ethics of Suicide and Euthanasia, reviewer David Jones wrote for the periodical New Blackfriars that Biggar would allow some people to be euthanized who were so damaged that they could be excluded from being called “human.”  

“If someone’s brain is irreparably damaged so that he or she cannot think, then according to Biggar we should conclude that he or she is no longer a human ‘person’ and no longer part of the human community. Biggar even describes such individuals as ‘irretrievably inaccessible to human care’ so that it means nothing to protect them from being killed nor therefore (and this is my deduction) to visit, clothe or feed them,” wrote Jones. 

The National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin noted that while it is not unusual for Pontifical Academies to have non-Catholic members who may disagree on issues unrelated to faith or morals, he suggested that the Academy for Life, which deals with “non-negotiables,” must have stricter criterion for its members. 

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