LAITY-LED JOHN PAUL II ACADEMY FOR LIFE AND FAMILY IS ANNOUNCED IN ROME
Interesting news from Rome over the weekend from Voice of the Family as it held a daylong meeting Saturday to mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of Blessed Paul VI’s encyclical on birth control, “Humanae vitae.”
Voice of the Family, as it explains on its website, is a coalition of 25 pro-life and pro-family groups that was born as an initiative of Catholic laity in order to offer expertise and resources before, during and after the 2014-2015 Synods on the Family. The meeting took place at the Pontifical Thomas Aquinas University and was opened by Walter Cardinal Brandmüller, one of the two remaining signatories of the dubia submitted to Pope Francis to request clarification of Amoris Laetitia.
Saturday, it was announced at the Voice of the Family meeting that Catholic academics have banded together to form a new laity-led Academy for Life, in the wake of many changes Pope Francis made in the Pontifical Academy for Life – changes that puzzled and upset many people. Last December, for example, he dissolved the entire membership. In the spring he reappointed some former members and also named new members, some of whom have written or spoken against Catholic teachings on life, issues such as abortion.
In new statutes for the Vatican body, Pope Francis also expanded its mandate to include a focus on the environment:
- 3 – The (Pontifical) Academy has a primarily scientific role, for the promotion and defence of human life (Cf. Vitae Mysterium, 4). In particular, it studies various matters dealing with care for the dignity of the human person at different stages of life, mutual respect between the sexes and generations; the defence of the dignity of each individual human being; and the promotion of a quality of human life that integrates material and spiritual values. It does so in the context of a genuine “human ecology” that seeks to recover the original balance in creation between the human person and the whole universe (cf. Chirograph of 15 August 2016).
Called the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family, the new academy, say members – many of whom were members of the Pontifical Academy for Life – will serve the same goals as the original Pontifical Academy, founded by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1994. This consists of the “interdisciplinary study and defense of human life in all its stages” and the “study of marriage and the human family.” It intends to offer the Church studies and explanations of the “most important anthropological and ethical truths about human life, human death, and about the family.”
Voice of the Family says that the following truths are at the heart of its work:
- Marriage, the exclusive, life-long union of one man and one woman, is the foundation of a stable and flourishing society and is the greatest protector of children, born and unborn.
- The separation of the procreative and unitive ends of the sexual act, which is intrinsic to the use of contraception, has acted as a major catalyst of the culture of death.
- Parents are the primary educators of their children and the protection of this right is essential for building a new “culture of life”.
Following are some resources for further study of the newly re-formed Pontifical academy for Life:
POPE JOHN PAUL’S MOTU PROPRIO ESTABLISHING THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE: http://www.academiavita.org/about_us_motu_proprio.php#panel2
STATUTES of the Pontifical Academy for Life: http://www.academiavita.org/_image/about_us/_documents/_statute/academy_statute.pdf
SERVANTS OF LIFE: Declaration signed by all those who are nominated Members of the Academy (http://www.academiavita.org/about_us_declaration.php#panel2)
To understand why some people were, as I wrote above, “puzzled and upset” at some of the changes made by Pope Francis in the Pontifical Academy for Life, especially in its membership, here are two pieces that explain the reasons for the perplexity:
A clear and well-reasoned piece for the National Catholic Register by Edward Pentin: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/pro-abortion-theologian-picked-as-pontifical-academy-for-life-member
Vaticanista Sandro Magister offered an interesting analysis of the people included by Pope Francis in the re-formed pontifical academy, as well as those left off the list, names of former members not brought back into the academy: http://magister.blogautore.espresso.repubblica.it/2017/06/13/name-by-name-the-metamorphosis-of-the-pontifical-academy-for-life/