From A Former Member… Pope’s Overhaul Of Vatican Pro-Life Academy “Heartbreaking”


February 26, 2017

By Judie Brown at The Wanderer

(Editor’s Note: Judie Brown is the president of the American Life League and a former member of the Pontifical Academy for Life)

+ + +

3-things-pro-life-blog2xThe 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.
For those who are not aware of its history, the Academy was established by Pope John Paul II on February 11, 1994, at the urging of his close friend Dr. Jerome Lejeune to combat the culture of death, particularly on matters relating to abortion, human embryo research, and other threats to the human person. Lejeune was then appointed by the Holy Father to be the first president of the Academy. Sadly he died shortly after the appointment, on April 3, 1994.

The very best piece of historical fact about the Academy and the holy men who gave it such an inspiring start is contained in this tribute to Dr. Lejeune:
“On May 13, 1981 (the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima), when Dr. Lejeune and his wife were visiting Rome, Pope John Paul II invited them to a private audience and lunch afterward. Later that day, John Paul survived an assassination attempt. This news upset Dr. Lejeune so much that he himself was hospitalized on the same day, with painful gallstones….
“In 1994, the Holy Father created the Pontifical Academy for Life, appointing Dr. Lejeune as its first president. By then suffering from cancer, he tried to decline, but when the Pope insisted, he simply replied, ‘I will die in action.’ He immediately got to work drafting the bylaws of the new academy.”
After Lejeune’s death, the Academy moved forward, having begun because of the deep commitment of a remarkable Pope and his devoted friend.

In 1996 it was my privilege to be invited to serve in that Academy. My name was submitted to Pope John Paul II, who confirmed my appointment as a corresponding member. At the time I was asked to sign an oath of fidelity to the magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church.

I was blessed to serve two five-year terms under Pope John Paul II and another term under Pope Benedict XVI. During those 15 years it was remarkable to meet with and get to know so many amazing pro-life heroes from around the world. We all worked together and discussed matters pertinent to teaching, protecting, and defending the Magisterium of the Church in matters relating to the defense of the dignity of the human person, with a special emphasis on abortion and other deadly acts against human beings.

In addition, the Academy was involved in the publication of many wonderful statements on the defense of life. For example, in 2005 it clarified Catholic teaching on vaccines containing fetal tissue. In 2008 Academy President Bishop Elio Sgreccia condemned the morning-after pill, clarifying again that the chemical cannot be used by Catholics.

But Bishop Sgreccia’s successor, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, was another matter. In 2009 Fisichella created a firestorm when he suggested that it was acceptable for a nine-year-old Brazilian girl pregnant with twins to have an abortion.
Was that episode the beginning of the end?

Several subsequent occurrences, including statements by the current Academy president, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, in support of the Vatican’s version of sex education, do not bode well for the Academy and its future.

So while I was dismayed when I read a report late last year that members of the Academy were no longer required to sign a declaration of fidelity, I was not surprised.
And then just last week it was reported that Pope Francis had dismissed every single member of the Academy. Apparently all terms ended on December 31 of last year.
The more that is revealed about this sad turn of events, the more troublesome it becomes. This is not the place to dig up any suspected dirt that is currently being swept around among the Vatican movers and shakers. That is the task of others. But because this saddens many of us, we must do something.

What can we do? We can pray fervently for the Holy Father and all those involved. We can defend the truth with joy, hope, and love for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. And we can educate ourselves and our children about these truths. With God’s help, we can create a culture of life in our homes, communities, and within the Church.


Further reading: 


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to From A Former Member… Pope’s Overhaul Of Vatican Pro-Life Academy “Heartbreaking”

  1. J. P. says:

    Is it not the case that the fixed term of office of each member of the Academy simply ran out on 31 December rather than saying that the Pope dismissed them ?


  2. The Raven says:

    Good luck with running that one at an employment tribunal, John.


  3. J. P. says:

    The Raven @13.56. An employment tribunal, at least in this part of the world, would have no difficulty in dismissing a claim made by an aggrieved Plaintiff/Applicant claiming compensation or reinstatement merely on the basis that his or her fixed- term contract had expired without renewal.
    Perhaps in Canada aggrieved persons can successfully demand reinstatement merely on the basis that they are disappointed not to have been reappointed ?


  4. J. P. says:

    The Raven@13.56. Please pardon my error in citing Canada. I momentarily mistook you for my old adversary from Canada who disputes everything I post. My argument about the inadmissibility of a strict right to reinstatement,following the end of a fixed-term contract, however,stands.


  5. The Raven says:

    I suppose that the issue rarely comes up in Ireland, with the legislation there preventing successive ‘daisy-chaining’ of fixed term contracts, but in other common-law jurisdictions it is recognised that an employee is dismissed if his or her employer declines to renew a fixed term contract. In the UK and a number of other jurisdictions the failure to renew a fixed term contract can constitute an unfair dismissal.


  6. johnhenrycn says:

    [John Kehoe] wrote: “… my old adversary from Canada who disputes everything I post.”

    No I don’t. You forget all the times I say nothing when I’m gobsmacked by your brilliance; but please be honest: you are congenitally trollish, and you dispute virtually everything posted on CP&S, except Toad’s spittle. And I’m not old. Not really old.


  7. J.P. says:

    The Raven@19:18. Point taken. Thank you.The former appointees would, however, still have to prove that they were employees,engaged under a contract of service under either Irish employment law or, I presume, UK employment law to avoid their cases for unfair dismissal being dismissed in limine. However, the real issue is how they would fare in law within the jurisdiction of the City State of the Holy See.



  8. The Raven says:

    We were discussing whether the non-renewal of their contracts constituted “dismissal”, John; the ‘unfair dismissal’ angle is a rabbit-hole.


  9. J. P. says:

    The Raven@20:36. It was you who first introduced the idea of an employment tribunal @13:56 and ‘unfair dismissal’ @19:18. I am suggesting that the Pope’s declining to appoint the same persons to a fresh term, after their term had come to an end, can not be regarded as a dismissal in law or in fact.


  10. The Raven says:

    Then you would be wrong, John. By declining to renew their contracts he has in both law and fact dismissed them.

    The fairness or otherwise of their dismissal is hardly germane; I mentioned unfair dismissal only to demonstrate that failure to renew a contract did not fall into a separate category from the termination of an ongoing contract of employment.


  11. johnhenrycn says:

    The last wrongful dismissal case I took to trial was for a Seventh Day Adventist who refused to work on the Sabbath. All the way to the Court of Appeal. We prevailed.
    No, not to the Court of Appeal. I misremember. The defendant didn’t appeal our trial success, but insisted on assessing of my costs. I prevailed. A sad helicopter fatal has just landed on my desk. The next-of-kin who called me seems happy.


  12. J.P. says:

    The Raven Feb 27@22:24.
    With respect I have to disagree, Termination of an ongoing employment contract, unless there has been a fundamental breach of contract by the employee, is a breach of contract by the employer giving rise to damages for the employee at common law or perhaps the alternative of reinstatement under unfair dismissal legislation. But the aggrieved person must first prove the existence of a legal contact as employee. I doubt that Academy members have any such contract of employment as such with the Pope or with the Holy See. They are not signed on as employees.That appears to be the situation in common-law jurisdictions. The failure of the Pope,however,simply to renew or extend the fixed term contract, if indeed there is any contract in these circumstances,of an Academy member whose fixed term of a year, or years, has run out gives rise to no such remedy.
    I would be very interested if you can cite legal precedent in case law,or the provisions in statute law, to the contrary under the laws of the Holy See wherein any such litigation would necessarily have to be determined.


  13. The Raven says:

    Now you are just being silly. Non-renewal of a contract constitutes dismissal. This is a principle that is recognised in most, if not all, common-law jurisdictions.

    In common parlance, as opposed to legal analysis, non-renewal of a contract is also, rightly, recognised as a dismissal.

    The question as to whether that dismissal is justiciable is wholly seperate and is not the subject that we are discussing.


  14. J.P. says:

    The Raven@12:49. I am sorry but you were the one Feb 27@13:56 challenging me with ‘running that one at an employment tribunal’ which is a legal body dealing with employment law. You have failed to cite one identifiable precedent case in a common-law jurisdiction decided by a civil court where the non renewal of an expired contract has been held to constitute dismissal.
    More fundamentally still, you have not shown that the appointment of the persons concerned to the Academy amounts to a contract of service which alone would give jurisdiction to the ’employment tribunal’ where you have challenged me with running that. When you are talking about an ’employment tribunal’, which is your choice, you are necessarily talking about what is justiciable, not just ‘common parlance’ which does not get a litigant very far in an employment tribunal where legal issues are at stake.
    Furthermore, are you so sure that the Holy See is part of the common-law system and does not more likely follow the European civil system of law ?


  15. The Raven says:

    John, go away and look at s136 EMployment Rights Act 1996 or s186 Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 of you want a South African comparison.

    Both of those laws are just enacting earlier case law decisions.

    I am well aware that the Vatican is not a common law jurisdiction; I anticipate that this is one of the areas in which they will have imported Italian law.


  16. Jude Punch says:

    The Raven, South African law is not common law but a hybrid of Roman, Dutch, African Customary law and some English law.The law of the Holy See is sui generis, not based on any one of these. I cannot imagine any court or tribunal within the Vatican following South African law as a precedent.But how, firstly, would you get over proving that an Academy member is actually an employee engaged under a contract of service ?


  17. kathleen says:

    @ The Raven

    Dear friend, I really admire your never-ending patience in the exchanges here… especially as patience is a ‘fruit of the Holy Spirit’ that I do not excel in 😔.

    [Edit. Apologies. I have deleted silly advice about not troll-feeding which I gave earlier (blush)!]


    I’m no genius at math either, but in fact working out what’s happening here is not very complicated. Let”s see:
    (1) Pope Francis gives orders to sack every single member of the Pro-Life Academy when their terms end on 31st December, 2016. (2) The new, more liberal, members of the Academy are no longer required to sign an oath to the magisterial teachings of the Church! [What on earth could be the impediment to signing this?] (3) Pro-abortion population control ideologue, Paul Ehrlich, who is also (apparently) a “shoddy scientist”, has been invited to give a talk at the Vatican this week! (4) Pope Francis promotes clerics of dubious pro-life views, and gives high praise to famous abortionist, Emma Bonino… Etc., etc.

    So what does all this say about Pope Francis and his buddies? Nothing good!
    Adding up: “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck!”


  18. johnhenrycn says:

    “You have failed to cite one identifiable precedent case in a common-law jurisdiction decided by a civil court…etc.”
    Ceccol v. Ontario Gymnastic Federation
    Michela v. St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic School

    Our (common-law) courts look with jaundiced eyes upon employers seeking to avoid paying compensation upon termination through reliance on “fixed-term contracts” when the course of conduct between the parties shows continuous service by the employee for a considerable period of time and conduct on the part of the employer pointing to an indefinite-term relationship.


  19. J.P. says:

    johnhenrycn@19:46. This begs the fundamental question as to whether there was an employer-employee relationship between the Pope and Academy members, which I have raised a number of times on this blog. I think not.
    The other major problem is that the Holy See does not operate a common-law jurisdiction from which precedents can or must be followed.


  20. The Raven says:

    No, John, it does not. The question is whether the Holy Father’s decision not to renew their contracts constitutes dismissal. It does.

    We don’t need to analyse whether they were employees, because the question was simply whether they were dismissed: they have been sent away, thrown out, discarded. Do you want to pile the synonyms higher?


  21. johnhenrycn says:

    With respect, John, whilst this thread did start off with you pooh-poohing the Night of the Long Knives over at the Pontifical Academy for Life (no member of which would ever contemplate suing the Holy See for wrongful dismissal in any case) it thereafter wandered down an absolutely thrilling path leading eventually to the issue of whether fixed-term contracts adequately protect secular business owners from lawsuits. I don’t think so in Canada – at least not always – but I don’t know about the legalities in Limerick. The only lawyer I’ve ever dealt with over there threatened to report me to the European Court of Human Rights concerning my treatment of an Irish client (a real corker – as in peculiar – although not actually from Cork) of mine over here. Naturally, I’ve been reluctant to travel to Europe ever since for fear of being banged-up, even though I was always led to believe that the the remit of the ECHR stops somewhere near the Azores – am I mistaken?


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s