Philosopher who backs legal abortion appointed to Vatican pro-life academy

Philosopher who backs legal abortion appointed to Vatican pro-life academy

Nigel Biggar has said: ‘It’s not clear that a human foetus is the same kind of thing as an adult’

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[Appointed by the very gatekeepers themselves]

by Catholic Herald Staff Reporter
posted Tuesday, 13 Jun 2017

Pope Francis has appointed 45 new ordinary members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, according to a statement on the Vatican website. They include Nigel Biggar, who has said that he thinks the limit for legal abortion should be 18 weeks.

In a dialogue with fellow philosopher Peter Singer in 2011, reported by Standpoint magazine, Biggar said: “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. In terms of maintaining a strong social commitment to preserving human life in hindered forms, and in terms of not becoming too casual about killing human life, we need to draw the line much more conservatively.”

He said: “It’s not clear that a human foetus is the same kind of thing as an adult or a mature human being, and therefore deserves quite the same treatment. It then becomes a question of where we draw the line, and there is no absolutely cogent reason for drawing it in one place over another.”

Biggar, the Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford, has opposed the legalisation of assisted suicide, saying that its proponents are “naive”, and that changing the law “would give us a radically libertarian society at the cost of a socially humane one”. His book In Defence of War criticises pacifism, and argues that the 2003 invasion of Iraq met the criteria for a just war.

Other members on the list include Cardinal Willem Eijk, Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney and Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.

In November, the 172 members of the Pontifical Academy for Life were removed – though some may be readmitted – and the academy’s statutes were changed. The statutes previously required that members promise to defend human life in accordance with the Church’s magisterium.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the head of the academy, responded: “The new statutes require a stronger commitment on the part of Members to the Church’s pro-life teaching than do the old. The new statutes themselves require Members to promote and defend the principles of the value of life and the dignity of the person, interpreted in conformity with the Magisterium of the Church.”

One former member, Mercedes Wilson, has said that members of the academy should be people of “proven courage that have been defending the teachings of the Church, in particular human life and the family that is under attack as never before”.

[From the en.news report]

The Academy’s statutes were changed in November 2016. Its head, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia said at the time: “The new statutes require a stronger commitment on the part of members to the Church’s pro-life teaching than do the old.” The old statutes required from the members to promise defending human life in accordance with the Church’s magisterium.

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7 comments on “Philosopher who backs legal abortion appointed to Vatican pro-life academy

  1. Some Papal Critics are Missing Among New Members of the Pontifical Academy for Life

    Maike Hickson
    June 13, 2017

    Today, the Vatican’s Press Office announced that Pope Francis has appointed (sometimes re-appointed) 45 new Ordinary and 5 Honorary Members of the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAL). As we had earlier reported, the pope had dismissed all the PAL members at the end of last year. There were speculations that he would later repopulate the PAL with new members who would go more along with his laxer progressive agenda of reform with regard to moral issues such as the protection of life and marriage.

    OnePeterFive was especially concerned that some of the outspoken papal critics who had been previously members of the PAL would not be re-appointed. The following persons have, in one way or another, expressed objections to the papal agenda for the liberalization of the Church’s moral teaching on marriage and on natural life, as it was discussed during the two Synods of Bishops on Marriage and the Family, and as it was finally presented in Amoris Laetitia:

    ~Cardinal Carlo Caffarra. He co-authored the Five Cardinals Book and signed the dubia sent to Pope Francis;

    ~Cardinal Willem Eijk. He signed the 13 Cardinals Letter and co-authored the Eleven Cardinals Book;

    ~Cardinal Elio Sgreccia. He wrote a preface to a book written by Cardinal Ennio Antonelli defending the traditional Catholic teaching on marriage;

    ~Professor Josef Seifert. He wrote a detailed critique of Amoris Laetitia and asked for its clarification;

    ~Professor Robert Spaemann. He gave several interviews strongly opposing parts of Amoris Laetitia and supporting the Four Cardinals’ dubia.

    ~Professor Wolfgang Waldstein. He signed the Declaration of Fidelity with regard to the Catholic teaching on marriage.

    ~Dr. John Haas, President of the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) in Philadelphia who had made a corrective statement after Pope Francis’ troubling claims about contraceptives and the ZIKA virus.

    A brief, but incomplete, review of the new members shows us that some of these papal critics have been, indeed, removed from the PAL. Among them are: Professor Robert Spaemann, Professor Wolfgang Waldstein, and Professor Josef Seifert. All these three professors have given their Catholic witness with regard to the confusing and potentially grave effects of the post-synodal exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. Cardinals Carlo Caffarra (one of the four dubia cardinals) and Elio Sgreccia have been re-appointed, but it would have been understandably difficult for Pope Francis not to have re-appointed them again. As we already reported, Cardinal Willem Eijk also has been re-appointed.

    One troubling new member of the PAL is Professor Anne-Marie Pelletier (France) who is a strong supporter of the pope’s more liberalizing agenda with regard to marriage and the family. She had been a speaker at the controversial May 2015 Day of Studies in Rome as organized by the French, German, and Swiss Bishops’ Conferences.

    Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, posted the following statement on his twitter account:

    “Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Academy, commented on the [papal ]appointments, saying that “with these appointments Pope Francis has formed a College of academics of the highest professional standing that will offer to the Catholic Church and to the whole world a deep and wise vision in the service of human life, especially life that is weakest and most defenseless. The Academicians named by the Holy Father come from 27 countries around the world and are outstanding in diverse fields of human knowledge. Among them are a number of non-Catholics, either belonging to other religions and non-believers, a sign that the protection and promotion of [natural] human life knows no divisions [sic] and can be assured only [sic] through common endeavor.” With respect to the appointment of Honorary Members, Archbishop Paglia noted that, “They represent the history of the Academy and a passion for [natural] human life for which we must all be grateful; it is thanks to the earlier work of so many illustrious men and women that today, with the appointment of new Academicians, our institution continues its service to life with renewed energy.” [emphasis added]

    This extended quote might give us a fuller idea as to where Pope Francis wishes to lead the ecumenical Pontifical Academy for Life. It seems that some of our earlier concerns were not unfounded.

  2. “In November, the 172 members of the Pontifical Academy for Life were removed – though some may be readmitted – and the academy’s statutes were changed. The statutes previously required that members promise to defend human life in accordance with the Church’s magisterium.
    Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the head of the academy, responded: ‘The new statutes require a stronger commitment on the part of Members to the Church’s pro-life teaching than do the old. The new statutes themselves require Members to promote and defend the principles of the value of life and the dignity of the person, interpreted in conformity with the Magisterium of the Church.’

    And this reassurance is coming from none other than Archbishop FAGlia, the out-and-proud homo who commissoned a painting for his own cathedral that celebrates, and depicts as saved, all manner of unrepentant sexual perverts, including himself. It’s coming from someone who, moreover, has just appointed someone who denies that abortion is murder from the moment of conception onward.
    What do you mean, Your Arrogancy, when you say that your new statutes require members to be “in conformity with the Magisterium of the Church”?
    When the Church teaches:
    1) That it is a condemned proposition: “It is permitted to bring about an abortion before the animation of the foetus…”. (Dz 1184…and remember, this was decreed at a time, 1679, when it was not generally accepted, as it is now, that the foetus is animated at the moment of conception).
    2) Humanae Vitae says: 14. …we must once again declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun, and, above all, directly willed and procured abortion, even if for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as licit means of regulating birth.
    Footnote references: Catechismus Romanus Concilii Tridentini, part. II, Ch. VIII; Pius XI, encyc. Casti Connubii, in AAS XXII (1930), pp. 562-564; Pius XII, Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, VI (1944), pp. 191-192; AAS XLIII (1951), pp. 842-843; pp. 857-859; John XXIII, encyc. Pacem in Terris, Apr. 11, 1963, in AAS LV (1963), pp. 259-260; Gaudium et Spes, no. 51.
    (Please note: “generative process already begun” means from the moment of conception)
    For a little color on this:
    Moral Theology, McHugh & Callan, 1958, #1848
    The ancient theory of Aristotle, followed by St. Thomas and most medieval authors, maintains that the embryo did not become human until some time after conception, an opinion that still has great probability physically. Others maintain that animation is simultaneous with conception. Since we do not know the exact moment of animation, the moment of conception must be accepted in practice as the beginning of human life. Probabilism is ruled out in this instance, for there is no doubt about the law and its application: we must not directly kill what is probably a human being. Accordingly, abortion is considered to be murder.

    What then do you mean, O Rainbow-Spectacled One, when you speak of “conformity with the Magisterium of the Church”?

    It’s a rhetorical question, for we already know. By Magisterium of the Church you really mean Magisterium of the Modernists. It means what you and other modernists like you merely want to believe, in order to justify your sins.

    • We can see, even in 1958, some scientists (or theologians) didn’t admit what had to be known even then. Human experimentation at Harvard and other places, leading to the development of the polio vaccine, used deliberately aborted children. That means scientists had access to the cell and the development of babies. This also led to the development of the infamous Pill, and it’s two-factor method, the second of which is to prevent implantation of the new human. So, I’m disgusted that McHugh & Callan would propagate the error of the “great probability” of a non-human life being present for a short time.

      Now, with the advent of gene mapping, it’s well known that the unique DNA is immediately present at conception, and that the “thing” is alive. There can be no doubt that ending it’s growth is to end a unique human life, which cannot be approved in any way. [Aside: I know you agree, NiN, but am adding this for readers who might happen along.] The question of ensoulment would have to come down in favor of the soul being present, for how can a unique human being that is alive and growing exist without a soul?

      • You are right, I do agree. I rather gritted my teeth at McHugh & Callan’s take. For one thing, it goes against Humanae Vitae, as my quote thereof shows. For another, it’s hard to see how it makes sense. Although Aquinas held to Aristotle’s view that the soul begins as vegetative, then becomes animal, then finally human, it’s hard to see how this happens. Does God “trade out” the lower types of soul for the higher ones? It seems an artificial and strained manner of development. It’s simpler and more natural to think that a fully human soul is there right at conception, but that its various potencies are simply not actualized until there is sufficient physical development. Indeed, the intellect does not begin to become actualized until after birth.
        This article on the subject is pretty good: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ensoulment
        It does mention a key thing: The Church has always considered abortion at any stage of development to be impermissible.

        • Indeed, the intellect does not begin to become actualized until after birth.

          I don’t know if that’s true. St. John the Baptist knew who came to visit. Tradition has it that Our Lady prayed in the womb. The rest of us may wait until birth. But did you ever see “The Silent Scream?” Is it reflex, or intellect? (Actually, I could never bring myself to watch it!)

          • It would seem that St. John and Our Lady would have to be classed as exceptions, since they were free of original sin; St. John after conception, and Our Lady from the first moment of her existence.
            I’ve not seen Silent Scream either, and I don’t want or need to. Even though I would hold that a baby’s reaction to being murdered in the womb would be essentially the same as that of any other higher mammal reacting to the same violence (i.e. sensitive, instinctual, but not actually *knowing* what was happening to it), MY reaction to watching an actual abortion would be stomach-turning revulsion — because *I* know what that baby is. The fact that the baby does not; that it doesn’t even know what is happening to it: that it doesn’t even know its own totally helpless, innocent human beingness is being destroyed just to serve the bestial lust of some twisted subhuman who itself ought to be the one dying, just makes the murder more furiously vile.

            • I can’t see that grace is necessary. St. John, in Original Sin, leapt at the sound of Our Lady’s voice.

              Hey moms, chime in here. Did your baby like music or your singing? Did they respond?

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