Wednesday 17 February 2010

Pontifical Academy for Life members call for academy president to be sacked reports that:
"Five prominent members of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life are calling on the pope to remove Archbishop Rino Fisichella as the Academy’s president following their plenary meeting in Rome last week."
This unusual step has been prompted by Archbishop Fisichella's opening address to members of the Academy in which he stood by the original wording of his article in L'Osservatore Romano, last year, which implied that there are difficult situations in which doctors enjoy scope for the autonomous exercise of conscience in deciding whether to carry out a direct abortion.  I explained the potentially disastrous implications of Archbishop Fisichella's article in a talk at the 4th Pro-Life World Congress in Saragossa last November.

A statement from the Academicians indicates that many members of the Academy now consider that they are being led by a churchman who does not understand what  absolute respect for the sanctity of human life entails:
"This is an absurd state of affairs in a Pontifical Academy for Life but one which can be rectified only by those who are responsible for his appointment as President"
the statement says.

I congratulate the five academicians for their statement, which upholds the integrity of the Catholic Church's pro-life witness. Countless numbers of unborn children are saved daily by the strength of that witness. Archbishop Fisichella's article and his justification of it jeopardise that same witness.

Pope John Paul II wrote in Evangelium Vitae (para.95):
"Too often it happens that believers, even those who take an active part in the life of the Church, end up by separating their Christian faith from its ethical requirements concerning life, and thus fall into moral subjectivism and certain objectionable ways of acting.  With great openness and courage, we need to question how widespread is the culture of life today among indiviual Christians, families, groups and communities in our Dioceses.  With equal clarity and determination we must identify the steps we are called to take in order serve life in all its truth."
The Academicians, clearly speaking for others in the Academy, have demonstrated that "openness and courage" and "clarity and determination" for which Pope John Paul II called. I also wish to congratulate for their reportage. This sort of courageous pro-life journalism is essential too.

Speaking earlier this month to the Scottish bishops, Pope Benedict urged that there must not be the slightest compromise in the Church's witness on the sanctity of human life.  He said:
"If the Church’s teaching is compromised, even slightly, in one such area, then it becomes hard to defend the fullness of Catholic doctrine in an integral manner."
The position set out by Archbishop Fisichella, like the collaboration of the bishops of England and Wales with the British government on life issues, are cancers which are threatening to destroy countless human lives. They require diagnosis and removal.

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