February 17, 2017
By Jan Bentz at LifeSiteNews
The Pontifical Academy for Life, long a bastion of orthodoxy within the Vatican, now has no members and is effectively shut down after Pope Francis’ recent reform of the institution.
The pope issued new statutes for the Academy on October 18, and removed all of its members.
“All members’ terms ended on December 31, 2016; currently the Academy is waiting for the new appointments,” Fr. Andrea Ciucci, a staff member of the Pontifical Council for the Family, told LifeSiteNews.
“We expect new members to be nominated by the appointment of the Holy Father within the next weeks,” Ciucci explained. They expect 75 ordinary members to be appointed, he said. Together with the ordinary appointments, the pope is launching a sub-group called “College of Young Scholars,” consisting of younger researchers in the given fields. Altogether the new appointees will not exceed 100 members.
Christine de Marcellus Vollmer, an Academy member since its founding by St. John Paul II in 1994, sent LifeSiteNews the Academy’s Christmas letter in which directives were given and recent changes explained.
The letter addressed to all members announced Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia’s nomination as president as well as the re-working of the statutes. At the same time it announced that annual recurring meetings would be suspended, de-inviting participants from a future assembly.
Vollmer explained that in May the Academy’s members were invited for a general assembly in March 2017 which was then “postponed” indefinitely. This notice of delay was followed by a document explaining that all members were “suspended.” Only recently news surfaced that the next general assembly is to take place October 2017.
Academy assemblies bring together specialists from all over the world to discuss a certain topic and have an interdisciplinary exchange of expertise.
Another Academy member, who wished to remain anonymous for “fear of jeopardizing reappointment,” affirmed these developments.
“I did get a letter,” the source told LifeSiteNews via email. “They said they were reconfiguring. They said people would be notified of reappointment. I have heard nothing so far but when I asked [they said] people could expect to hear about it in April or May. The meeting will be in October.”
On the Academy’s website, the list of ordinary members is currently recorded as none, while all previous 172 members are registered with their appointment having ended on December 31, 2016. The “Central Office” is recorded as consisting of Archbishop Paglia and his seven-person team.
Last year Pope Francis replaced the head of the Academy and changed its statutes. His reforms include the removal of the requirement for members to sign a pro-life declaration.
Vollmer commented with concern, saying: “Originally we each had to make an oath in front of the Nuncio of our country that we would be Servants of Life and uphold the teaching on life of the Magisterium. We have not seen of course the new ‘commitment’ but the wording on the new statutes sounds softer, and as the Academy is now open to people of any religion or none, it is doubtful they would commit very seriously to Humanae Vitae!”
The shift of attention from moral questions to a mere scientific approach is another rising concern.
“The other emphasis that I find sad is that [the Academy] has become, seemingly, only interested in science. The Pontifical Academy of Science already covers that, with scientists of all religions or none, and is full of Nobel Prize winners. PAL was founded with a list of intentionally mixed specialists including lawyers, doctors, journalists, prolife leaders, psychiatrists, family activists, priests, teachers, and so on, the intention of the founders being to be able to study and analyze the causes of anti-life tendencies and find ways to counteract them. I knew the founders, especially Jerome Lejeune, very well. This was the task, and sadly with his death the discourse became ever more directed towards ‘hard science’ rather than ‘prolife science’,” explained Vollmer.
Journalist Maike Hickson from OnePeterFive pointed out that many of the dismissed members, including Cardinal Caffarra and Cardinal Willem Eijk, as well as Prof. Josef Seifert and Prof. Robert Spaemann, have one thing in common: their public objection to Amoris Laetitia and the liberalization of the Church’s moral teaching that goes along with it.
Archbishop Paglia is known for his support of the distribution of Communion for “remarried” divorcees. Pope Francis also appointed him as grand chancellor of the Pontifical Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, traditionally a bulwark of sound moral teaching based on St. John Paul II’s writings and teachings.
Archbishop Paglia published a book between the two synods suggesting opening the door to Communion for “remarried” divorcees. It was titled “Family and Church: an indissoluble bond.” He also invited homosexual couples to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in 2015.
“As President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, I urge you to deal with the new challenges concerning the value of life,” the Pope told Paglia in his letter of appointment. Here Pope Francis also pointed out that “human ecology” needs more emphasis and that it “helps to restore the original balance of creation between the human person and the whole universe.”
The re-population of Vatican Dicasteries is nothing new in the Pontificate of Pope Francis. Only recently Cardinal Sarah’s Congregation for Divine Worship received an overhaul, and Cardinal Müller was ordered to dismiss three priests from his Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Bergoglio the Merciful does it again! Dialogue? That is SO yesterday. Just get rid of all those rigid rad-trads.
Fire ’em all.
The Vatican does need real Catholics hanging around, right?
What IS going on???
The article published here by Jan Bentz impliedly criticizes Archbishop Paglia for inviting homosexual couples to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in 2015.
Should he have restricted invitees to morally perfect persons [The Moderator – Stupid and illiterate gloss removed]
But then, whatever are we to make of Matthew 9:11 ” When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples ‘ Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners ?’ ”
Are those the same Pharisees as the ones that Our Lord reproved for their wickedness in allowing divorce? I suspect that you might be identifying the wrong people with the Pharisees in your comment, John.
“[The Moderator – Stupid and illiterate gloss removed]”
Become The Grammar Police now, have we?
[The Moderator – That is just one of the services that we provide, and you’ve capitalised the second word in your sentence.]
The Moderator – First paragraph excised.]
The Raven Feb 18 @ 23.54. My point was simply that Jesus, as Lord, was prepared to associate with and listen to the Pharisees without discrimination [The Moderator – Last half of sentence excised]
The Raven Feb 18 @23:54.. They are no doubt the same Pharisees whom Our Lord reproved, but He didn’t reprove the sinners with whom he chose to eat.
“…and you’ve capitalised the second word in your sentence.”>
What The Devil is wrong with that?
My recollection is that Our Lord enjoined the people that He associated to “sin no more” and provoked a metanoia in those He associated with. Hardly the “meet people where they are and then leave them there” approach that you seem to be advocating.
It is predominantly by our example,and by our prayers, that we can hope to influence our fellow human beings for the better, not by continually lecturing them on the error of their ways.
You are posing a false opposition, John.
No-one is proposing that one should be ‘continually lecturing’ people who are living in morally disordered circumstances; they are objecting to the notion that there is any virtue in an engagement with people in such situations that does not recognise the fact of their moral disorder.
The Raven. Why criticize the Archbishop for engaging with such persons ? Is this not what Christ Himself did in eating with sinners, and, for example, in his encounter with Zacchaeus, an unscrupulous tax collector. ‘To day, salvation has come to this house’. Remember ? Must the Archbishop shun, and keep on shunning, those persons whose lifestyles he disapproves of ?
You are compounding your error, John. The criticism is of the manner of the Archbishop’s engagement, not the fact that he has engaged with people.
And the story of Zacchaeus is surely the counterpoint to the Archbishop’s hobnobbing? Zacchaeus is summoned to repentance by Our Lord, Zacchaeus publicly renounces his sins and commits to the service of the Lord.
The Raven Feb19@21:35.
Archbishop Paglia appears to be of the same mind as the father who,seeing his prodigal and wayward son still a long way off, ran to welcome him home. […] Luke 15:11-32.
Your reading of the parable is signally confused, John. In verses 18 and 19 we have confession, repentance and penance.
Confused ? I don’t think so. The only reason the prodigal son decided to go home was his self interest; relief from his starving condition after being reduced to eating pig food, if he could get any when the famine came. Nor was he lectured about his lifestyle by his welcoming father.
There is no mention of penance in the verses you cite but an intention to declare himself unworthy to be called his father’s son, to be treated as a servant, met as in the later verses ,not by any such treatment or demand by the father for penance, but rather by his lavish generosity on his wayward son.
Where is the confusion here ?
I must disagree, John.
The prodigal son realised that his choices had left him in a bad place; he had resolved to amend his life and to approach his father as a penitent.
Do you think that his father would really have had his son returned to him if the boy had returned with a harlot on each arm, a belly full of wine and a head full of poppy-smoke?
The father in the parable does not reprove his son because he has no need to – his son has turned away from damnation and humbly approached his father, coming as a penitent not demanding his rights as a son; the father has his son back.
The Raven @16:45.
I am afraid, my dear friend, that I too must regretfully disagree with you. You had introduced penance as part of the Prodigal Son parable. It simply isn’t there.
That is the problem with superimposing on clear Scriptural text one’s own favourite interpretation.
The parable is about the generous reception by the loving father of his wayward son,treating him in familial terms despite his serious shortcomings.
“Do you think that his father would really have had his son returned to him if the boy had returned with a harlot on each arm, a belly full of wine and a head full of poppy-smoke?”
Splendid bit of Chestertonian-style, straw-man “logic.” here, from Raven.
The weasel word being , “if.”
What the father might, or might not have thought under those circumstances is neither here nor there – since the situation posited by Raven didn’t materialise.
The boy came home alone, harlot, drink and drug-free.
What his motives might have been – is totally debatable.
(But had I been the father in Raven’s scenario, I would have welcomed the boy, and cheerfully paid off the whores.)
No, John, I think that you are undertaking a work of eisegesis here: in both of the gospel stories that we have discussed you have ignored or downplayed the elements of the story that deal with turning away from sin (in both stories these elements are, to use your words “clear scriptural texts”).
The parable of the prodigal son is about the boundless grace of God if we are willing to turn away from our sins and return to Him with a contrite heart; we are being shown that contrition and pentince can reconcile anyone with God.
In this regard I find your universalist reading of the parable to be problematic and defective.
You are being obtuse, Toad: the question that I’m asking is not whether the father would have welcomed the lad (and paid off the ladies), the question was whether he would actually have his son back if he remained so firmly attached to his vices.
The Raven. The father in the parable, when running to welcome his son, did not know whether he remained attached to his vices or not. Perhaps, for all he knew, the son was coming to ask for more money. Yet the father unconditionally received him without questioning him. […]
Selective reading again, John:
The father could see the state his son was in.
The Raven @19:34.
Really ? The father in the parable was human and could not know merely on sight what state his son was in. Without condition or knowledge he embraced his son. I am well acquainted with the text of the parable. I read what I see. It is you who wish to import penance into the parable, not I.
“whether (the father) would actually have his son back if he remained so firmly attached to his vices.”
I suspect you don’t have any children Raven. But I don’t know.
Anyway, I do, and, for myself, I’d actually welcome any son of mine back at any price, vices and all.
And, if his vices didn’t correspond to my own ones, maybe I could persuade the boy to quit his – and embrace mine.
After all, one never know, do one?.
As to the lad’s perverse fondness for vices – well, nobody’s perfect.
(Except TradCaths, of course.)
(My comments are becoming infested with commas.
How soon before The Grammar Moderating Police crack down?)
[The Moderator- Can’t be long now]
The son was coming home after starving in a pig pen: it would not take great powers of perception to know what state he was in (even from afar).
My reading of the parable is not only a natural reading of the text, it also conforms to the teaching of the Church fathers on this text, for example:
Your “I read what I see” relies too much on your own judgment, which seems blind to its preconceptions (a number of people in the sixteenth century thought in a similar way and that didn’t turn out too well).
I must be explaining myself badly, but you are missing my point: I asked whether the son would truly have returned if the vice-addled stranger had swaggered onto the scene. I didn’t ask whether the father would have embraced his son in his waywardness – I am sure that he would, but that really isn’t my question.
“…I asked whether the son would truly have returned if the vice-addled stranger had swaggered onto the scene. “
Are you suggesting, then, Raven – that if the son had come back vice-ridden – he would no longer be his father’s child?
…If so, I see no point in going on with this any further. It’s too absurd.
“Your “I read what I see” relies too much on your own judgement,”
We all make judgements based to information that we process as best we can.
Nothing else to be done.
We still come up with wildly different conclusions.
I’d call that “relativism,” the filthiest word in Christendom. But I don’t know.
You fail seem to to grasp, Raven, that all our judgements on this – or any other matter – are equally selective.
Certainly including yours. That’s life.
No. I’m pointing out that the lad would not have “returned” in the full sense of the word – a part of him would always be absent.
On the contrary, I’m quite sure that my judgments are selective; I’m merely demonstrating to John that his own reading of this parable is by no means clear from the text and pointing out that his argument about reading the plain words of scripture could have been written by a Protestant divine.
Without wishing to assign the ‘kiss of death’ to your comments Raven, let me say very well argued.
“(John’s) argument about reading the plain words of scripture could have been written by a Protestant divine.”
..and thus, ipso facto – wrong. Protestant Divines can’t ever be right about anything.
No “words of scripture” can be considered “plain,” or there would not be 20,000 varieties of Christianity in the USA alone.
Sorry, Geoff – yours was The Kiss of Death.
Well, I think that we can point to some of the writings of the Caroline Divines (chaps like Herbert, Donne, Andrewes etc) and find fine and orthodox explications of doctrine, but on the question of scriptural interpretation the Church’s stance is that they are wholly wrong.
Agreed, you’ve hit the nail on the head (although 20,000 seems to be something of an under-estimate).
You would like to think so wouldn’t you toad. I have a long way to go before reaching your illustrious depths. The bird eats toads for breakfast and despite the toad’ venom, still soars