For the many people who had serious questions and doubts about Church teaching on life and sexual morality after the Pontifical Academy for Life published its “Theological Ethics of Life” (Etica teologica della Vita), following this forum online may provide some of the longed-for answers.


The International Catholic Jurists Forum (ICJF) has brought together Catholic theologians, natural law thinkers, lawyers, and other academics for a three-day meeting in Rome to address the Pontifical Academy for Life’s publication on “Theological Ethics of Life” (Etica teologica della Vita. Scrittura, tradizione, sfide pratiche). The meeting will be held in Rome from December 8 to 10, 2022. Live-streaming will be provided.

An ICJF press release notes that “On July 29, 2022, during his return flight from Canada to Rome, Pope Francis stated, “[T]he duty of theologians is research, theological reflection.” He also noted that theologians are called to discuss various “hypotheses” among themselves while recognizing that it’s up to the Magisterium to decide if certain proposals go too far.

The statement added that, “An international group of Catholic theologians and other experts (clerics, lay men and women) are gathering in a private workshop, in Rome, from December 8 to 10, 2022. The purpose of the meeting is to engage, in a spirit of respect and fraternity, some of the issues, especially those connected with sexual morality, objective moral norms, and conscience, raised in the recent publication of the Pontifical Academy for Life entitled Etica teologica della Vita. Scrittura, tradizione, sfide pratiche, under the presidency of Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia.”

The press release stated that “The meeting, organized under the auspices of the International Catholic Jurists Forum (ICJF), is co-sponsored by Ave Maria School of Law, Ave Maria University, both based in Florida, and Ethics and Public Policy, Person & Identity Project, located in Washington, DC.”

Due to the interest expressed in the conference, the organizers have decided to open the gathering to the public via live stream on the website of The Daily Compass; the program, including concept note, bibliography, bios, and schedule can be found here. It is hoped that the conference will be of service to the Church and scholars, who are a facing the same doctrinal, moral, and social issues examined in Etica teologica.



As you may be aware, as I wrote yesterday in this very spot, there has been much consternation in Catholic circles – hierarchy and faithful – about Pope Francis’ recent nomination of a pro-abortion member to the Pontifical Academy for Life. I have prepared a Special for the interview segment of “Vatican Insider,” on this nomination and related issues.

I look at how the academy has changed from its original makeup and focus under its founder, Pope St. John Paul, when it was re-tooled by Pope Francis, and how Francis also re-instituted his predecessor’s John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family to the point where it is unrecognizable for original members.

I ask: Why would a Pope appoint as an academician someone who is pro-abortion. Abortion is the taking of an innocent human life. The academy is FOR life. Now, people are asking: Is it truly the Pontifical Academy for Life?

The bottom line of my piece is: What are we to make of the remarkable dichotomy between the Church’s Magisterium and Pope Francis’ pronouncements on protecting and defending all life from conception to natural death and the appointment of people to Church institutes and academies who do not defend and protect that life?

So tune in this weekend for that analysis.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: go to and write the name of the guest for whom you are searching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear




According to the Pontifical Academy for Life, brain stem cells have been transplanted for the first time in the world into 15 multiple sclerosis patients, with none of them showing any side effects so far.

Other actors in this history-making story include the Associazione Revert Onlus, a nonprofit founded in 2003 to finance, promote and incentivize brain stem cell research, and the Fondazione Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza of San Giovanni Rotondo, a hospital founded by St. Padre Pio. The reports said that, “possible therapeutic effects of the trial are now being assessed.”

The Academy website noted that, “For the first time ever, all patients recruited in a brain stem cell transplantation trial were treated for the experimental treatment of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.”

It continues: “On the occasion of the World Day of Multiple Sclerosis, which is celebrated on 30 May, the Pontifical Academy for Life of the Vatican State and its President Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, together with the Revert Onlus Association, announce the conclusion of the Phase I clinical trial that involves human brain stem cell transplantation in fifteen patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.” This was done with the patronage of the Stem Cell Foundation of Terni.

“We are proud to announce this important milestone in the ongoing experimentation with brain stem cells,” said Angelo Vescovi, Scientific Director of the IRCCS Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza in San Giovanni Rotondo and of the Advisory Board of Revert Onlus, as well as Professor of the University of Milano Bicocca. “We are now waiting for the one-year follow-up and the submission of the Phase II protocol for this disease as soon as possible.”

Academy president Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia had this to say about the announcement: “I thank the Director of IRCCS Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, Prof. Angelo Vescovi, who has been working with tenacity and determination for almost thirty years to reach new goals in regenerative medicine and give hope to those suffering from multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases.

“Revert’s research,” added Archbishop Paglia, “is unique in its kind because it is free from any ethical and moral problems and this makes us even more proud of the results obtained and makes us look to the future with greater optimism, always with respect for life. The milestone reached also shows that the initiative was not extemporaneous, but it evolved over the years, expanding and including other neurological diseases and the evaluation of desirable standardizable therapeutic effects. Sick people deserve to have answers and treatment options and it is only serious and constant work that can satisfy all of this, free of charge.”




The Vatican this morning released a statement on the death in France of Vincent Lambert: “We received the news of Vincent Lambert’s death with pain. We pray that the Lord will welcome him into His house and we express closeness to his loved ones and to those who, up to the end, committed themselves to assist him with love and dedication. Let us remember and reiterate what the Holy Father said when he spoke of this painful affair: ‘God is the only master of life from the beginning to the natural end and it is our duty to remember this always and not to give in to the throwaway culture’.”

Vincent Lambert became a quadriplegic after a motorbike accident 11 years ago and has been in a persistent vegetative state since then. Symbolizing the right to life debate in France – and for some, the right to die – Lambert’s feeding tubes were removed by doctors against the wishes of family.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, tweeted today: En ce triste jour, je prie pour le repos éternel de l’âme de Vincent Lambert, mort en martyr, victime de la folie effrayante des hommes de notre temps. Je prie pour sa famille et en particulier pour ses parents, si courageux, si dignes. N’ayons pas peur. Dieu veille. +RS (On this sad day, I pray for the eternal repose of the soul of Vincent Lambert, who died as a martyr, a victim of the frightful madness of the men of our time. I pray for his family and especially for his parents, so brave, so worthy. Do not be afraid. God watches. RS +)

A tweet from the Pontifical Academy for Life in both French and Italian: Monsignor Paglia and all the @PontAcadLife pray for the family of #VincentLambert, for the doctors, for all the people involved in this affair. The death of #VincentLambert and his story are a defeat for our humanity.


Holy See Press Office interim director Alessandri Gisotti issued the following statement at noon today:

“The operations at the Campo Santo Teutonico were concluded at 11.15 am within the scope of the investigative tasks of the Orlandi case. Results of the research were negative: no human remains or funerary urns were found. The careful inspection of the tomb of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe has unearthed a large underground compartment of about 4 meters by 3.70, completely empty. Subsequently the opening operations of the second tomb-sarcophagus took place, that of Princess Carlotta Federica di Mecklemburgo. Inside it, no human remains have been found. The family members of the two Princesses were informed of the results of the research.

“The staff of the Fabbrica di San Pietro, professor Giovanni Arcudi and his staff, in the presence of a trusted expert appointed by the lawyer of the family of Emanuela Orlandi, collaborated with the investigations. The Orlandi family’s lawyer, Laura Sgrò, and Emanuela’s brother, Pietro Orlandi, were present. The Promoter of Justice of the Tribunal of the Vatican City State, Gian Piero Milano, and his Assistant Alessandro Diddi, together with the Commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps, Domenico Giani, followed all phases of the operation.

“For further details, documentary checks are underway concerning the structural interventions that have taken place in the area of the Campo Santo Teutonico, in a first phase at the end of the nineteenth century, and in a second more recent phase between the 1960s and 1970s.

“At the end of the work, we would like to reiterate that the Holy See has always shown attention and closeness to the suffering of the Orlandi Family and in particular to Emanuela’s mother. Attention demonstrated also in this occasion in accepting the specific request of the family to check the Campo Santo Teutonico (for alleged remains).”

Earlier this morning he had released the following statement:

“At 8.15 am this morning, after a prayer led by the Rector of the Teutonic College in front of the two sepulchres, regular operations began at the Campo Santo Teutonico (Teutonic cemetery) as part of the investigative aspects of the Orlandi case. At the moment, it is not possible to predict how much time will be needed for completing such operations that involve about fifteen people.

“In particular, the staff of the Fabbrica di San Pietro is operating for the opening and closing of the tombs, while overseeing the discovery will be done by Prof. Giovanni Arcudi and his staff, in the presence of a trusted expert appointed by the lawyer of the Orlandi family. Present were the Promoter of Justice of the Tribunal of the Vatican City State, Prof. Gian Piero Milano, his Deputy, Prof. Alessandro Diddi, and the Commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps, Domenico Giani.

”As indicated in the decree of the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice, the operations concern the “Tomb of the Angel” of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and the adjacent tomb of Princess Carlotta Federica di Mecklemburgo. Although the grave indicated by the lawyer of the Orlandi Family is, in fact, that with the Angel who holds in his hands an open book with the inscription “Requiescat in pace”, the Promoter of Justice, in order to avoid possible misunderstandings about what the indicated grave could be, ordered the opening of both tombs as they are neighboring tombs and both with similar niches.

”For procedural reasons and in accordance with the secrecy of the investigation, the identity of the relatives of the two buried princesses will not be disclosed; obviously these are descendants who have been informed of the operations and who, for the sake of the truth, have guaranteed their complete availability and collaboration with the Holy See and in particular with the Office of the Promoter of Justice.


Since the July 2 announcement by the Vatican that two tombs would be opened on July 11 in its Teutonic Cemetery to ascertain whether or not the remains of Emanuela Orlandi were in one of the tombs, the Vatican has been providing news and background stories, including an interview with the forensic anthropologist commissioned by the Vatican judiciary to examine findings and take samples for DNA testing following the opening of two tombs in the Vatican on Thursday.

Emanuela Orlandi was the daughter of a Vatican employee who vanished mysteriously 36 years ago on her way to a music lesson.

Now we know that today’s findings will not give closure to the many people involved – those workers assembled to open the tombs, the lawyers of the Orlandi family and the families or descendants of the people whose names were on the grave headstones opened today, members of the Orlandi family, Vatican security personnel, witnesses, etc.

The announcement on July 2 of the opening of the tombs said the decision to do so was part of one of the files opened following a request by the family of Emanuela Orlandi who, in recent months, had reported the possible concealment of her body in the small cemetery located within the territory of the Vatican State.

That press office announcement also stated: “The decision comes after a phase of investigations during which the Office of the Promoter – with the help of the Gendarmerie Corps – carried out investigations aimed at reconstructing the main judicial stages of this long and painful and complex case. It should be remembered that for legal reasons the Vatican investigating authority has no jurisdiction to investigate Emanuela Orlandi’s disappearance in Italy; investigations which, moreover, have been conducted by Italian investigators – from the earliest stages – with scrupulosity and professional rigor. Therefore, the Vatican initiative concerns only the ascertainment of the possible burial of the body of Emanuela Orlandi in the territory of the Vatican State.”

Whatever else can be done to discover what happened to Emanuela Orlandi after more than three decades of various leads have been exhausted is now in the hands of Italian authorities and possibly any police and investigative authorities in other countries with whom Italian officials have been in touch.




A French court has ordered doctors to resume life support for a quadriplegic man whose case has become central to the right-to-die debate in France.

Doctors had begun switching off life support for Vincent Lambert, 42, on Monday, before the court order.

Mr. Lambert has been in a vegetative state since a 2008 motorcycle accident.

His care has divided the country and his family. His wife has called for his feeding tubes to be withdrawn; his parents insist he be kept alive.

Mr. Lambert’s mother Viviane, 73, hailed the latest ruling as “a very big victory” in her struggle to maintain her son’s life support. “They are going to restore nutrition and give him drink. For once I am proud of the courts,” she said.

Doctors had earlier on Monday halted the nutrition and hydration Lambert receives, in line with the wishes of his wife and other relatives.

An earlier judicial ruling had said Mr. Lambert should be removed from life support and that process had begun before Monday evening’s dramatic reversal by the Paris Court of Appeal.


“In fully sharing what was stated by Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort of Reims, and by Auxiliary Bishop Bruno Feillet, in relation to the sad story of Mr. Vincent Lambert, we wish to reiterate the serious violation of the dignity of the person, which the interruption of food and hydration entails The ‘vegetative state’, in fact, was certainly a serious pathological condition, which however does not in any way compromise the dignity of the persons who are in this condition, nor their fundamental rights to life and care, understood as continuity of basic human assistance.

“Nutrition and hydration are a form of essential care that is always proportionate to the maintenance of life: feeding a sick person is never a form of unreasonable therapeutic obstinacy, as long as the person’s body is able to absorb nutrition and hydration, unless doing that causes intolerable suffering or is harmful to the patient.

“The suspension of these treatments represents, rather, a form of abandonment of the patient, based on a merciless judgment on his quality of life, expression of a culture of waste that selects the most fragile and defenseless people, without recognizing their uniqueness and immense value. The continuity of assistance is an inescapable duty.

“We therefore hope that effective solutions can be found as soon as possible to protect the life of Mr. Lambert. To this end, we assure the prayer of the Holy Father and of the whole Church.

Kevin Cardinal Farrell,
Prefect, Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia,
President, Pontifical Academy for Life


I did post daily news about the abuse summit on Saturday and Sunday, but only on my Facebook page. There were a few exceptional moments, including press briefings, and I have to say that I personally felt that the three best talks of the four-day summit were from three women, Linda Ghisoni, undersecretary for the Dicastery for Family, Laity and Life, Sr. Veronica Openibo from Nigeria,, superior of the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus and celebrated vaticanista (long before the summit!) Valentina Alazraki who has covered the Vatican for 45 years and been on 150 – yes, 150! – papal flights.

Go to for their words and stories and my comments. I gave Valentina an Oscar – see why! If you had read or heard her talk online, you’d have personally handed her the Oscar!

Also go there to see the question one journalist asked the final day of briefings about Pope Francis and cover up!


The four-day Vatican meeting on the Protection of Minors, called by the Pope to reflect on the “brutality” of the worldwide problem of clerical sex abuse, ended in dramatic fashion with a penitential liturgy on Saturday and Mass on Sunday after which Pope Francis delivered a 3,500 word major address declaring that the Church will lead an all-out battle against abuse.

Earlier, Saturday afternoon in a striking penitential liturgy in the Apostolic Palace’s Sala Regia, there was a collective confession by Pope Francis and Church leaders attending the abuse summit: “We confess that bishops, priests, deacons, and religious in the Church have done violence to children and youth – that we have shielded the guilty – that we have not acknowledged the suffering of many victims – that we bishops did not live up to our responsibilities. … Kyrie eleison. Lord, have mercy.”

Sunday, in his lengthy speech following the summit’s concluding Mass, The Holy Father said, “The meaning behind child sex abuse comes from the present-day manifestation of the spirit of evil,” adding that consecrated persons who commit such crimes become “tools of Satan.” He outlined an 8-point program the Church will undertake to fight abuse.

Abp Mark Coleridge gave the homily at Mass and Pope Francis spoke afterwards

On Sunday at the final press briefing, Fr. Federico Lombardi, conference moderator, announced some concrete initiatives underway in the Vatican, including a new Motu Proprio from the Pope “on the protection of minors and vulnerable persons,” and a Vademecum or manual, to be published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to help bishops around the world clearly understand their duties and tasks.

Also, added Fr. Lombardi, “in a spirit of communion with the universal Church, the Pope has expressed the intention of creating task forces of competent persons to help episcopal conferences and dioceses that find it difficult to confront the problems and produce initiatives for the protection of minors.”


The Holy See Press Office interim director announced today that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness the Sheikh Abdallah Ben Zayed Al Nahyan, was received today in a private manner at the Casa Santa Marta at 12.30 pm by the Holy Father Francis with whom he stayed and conversed for 45 minutes.

Minister Ben Zayed wanted to tell the Pope of the decisions that the government of the United Arab Emirates has undertaken to promote the application of the intentions of the document on “Human Brotherhood for World Peace and common coexistence” signed by the Holy Father and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahamad al-Tayyib (Abu Dhabi, 4 February 2019), some of which have already been implemented and others being implemented.

The delegation gifted the Holy Father a small box containing some stones with inscriptions in Arabic that express messages related to love, tolerance and brotherhood. The Pope gave a copy of an engraving dating from the 17th century that shows the construction work in St. Peter’s Square, and four large photo albums intended for the president and vice president of the United Arab Emirates, containing a selection of the best images of the visit of the Pontiff in the country earlier this month.

At the end of the encounter the Holy Father had lunch together with the minister and the delegation from the UAE.


By Francesca Merlo (vaticannews)

Despite all of the potential that science has, the accumulation of it all does not always obtain the results hoped for, said Pope Francis as he addressed the çPontifical academy for Life that is marking its 25th anniversary, created by Pope John Paul II in 1994.

All that science could offer

We know the problems our world is facing, said the Pope, and one of them is that we seem to be closing in more and more on ourselves. This underlines a “dramatic paradox”: that at the point in which science could offer the equal well-being that God wished for to all people, “we observe an embittering of conflicts and a growth of inequality.”

There are two sides to technology, said Francis. On the one hand, we cannot go without it; on the other hand, it imposes its logic upon us. “Yet, technology is a human characteristic”.

However, what we must understand, added Francis, is that the artificial devices that simulate human capacities, are in fact, lacking in human qualities. These machines cannot take into consideration the phenomena of experience or that of conscience.

Benefits of science on every person

This must be taken into account, the Holy Father told his guests, when imposing the regulations for the use of these machines and in researching them. In order to work towards a constructive interaction between humans and the most recent versions of these machines, which he says, “are radically transforming the scenario of our existence.” The Pope explained that, “if we are able to make use of these references in practice, the extraordinary potential of new discoveries can radiate their benefits on every person and on humanity as a whole.”

Sharing in order to benefit

Pope Francis noted that the task of the Academy for Life is an honorable one in “the ethical alliance in favor of human life.” Now that we are surrounded by more and more sophisticated machinery, and they directly involve human qualities, both physical and of the psyche, the sharing of information between those working in the field becomes more and more important.

He urges the participants at the plenary assembly to take the example of the faithful masters of this technology “who have wisely and boldly entered into the processes of their contemporaneity, with a view to an understanding of the heritage of faith at the height of a reason worthy of humanity”.


From interim Holy See Press Office director Alessandro Gisotti:

In the Sala Bologna of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, a restricted interdicasterial meeting was held this morning from 9.00 to 13.00, focusing on the fight against child abuse. This meeting is a first concrete effect of the meeting on “The Protection of Minors in the Church” that ended yesterday. Also at the meeting, together with some superiors of the Secretariat of State and the heads of the dicasteries who are particularly committed to this topic,were members of the organizing committee and the moderator of the meeting, Father Federico Lombardi SJ, who focused on the meeting as it unfolded, initial reactions to the meeting and follow-up.

Above all, and unanimously, accent was placed on how necessary the just ended meeting was, so desired by Pope Francis. It was also highlighted that this event must now be followed by concrete measures as strongly requested by the People of God. In this context, the fundamental principles that inspire the documents and task forces, announced in the final press conference of the meeting, were illustrated. These initiatives, it has been affirmed, will have to be communicated in the clearest, most timely and detailed way possible.

In the interventions of the dicastery heads, who reaffirmed their commitment to follow the example of Pope Francis in the fight against abuse, the accent was placed on the need to listen to the victims as a starting point for this commitment. Other points underlined: the greater involvement of the laity on this front and the need to invest in training and prevention, taking advantage of those realities with a consolidated experience in this field. Lastly, it was highlighted that the progress of the follow-up of the meeting should be verified with interdicasterial meetings in the name of synodality and synergy.



Pope Francis told the faithful during his weekly general audience that prayer with God is a silent dialogue with love at its core, where there is no pretence. In his ongoing catechesis on the “Our Father,” Pope Francis told pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI hall for the Wednesday audience that, “true prayer is made in the intimate depths of a heart visible only to God. “It is a silent dialogue”, he said, with love at its core. “To look at God and to let oneself be looked at by God is to pray.

Compassion for others

The Pope commented that in this way, the Christian does not forget the world, but rather brings its people and its needs into prayer. He continued by saying that the person who prays, tells God about the pain of someone he or she met that day. “If you don’t realize that there’s so many people who suffer,” the Pontiff underlined, “that means one’s heart is withered. … Feeling compassion …is one of the key verbs of the Gospel.”

“Let us ask ourselves,” said Francis, “when I pray, do I open myself to the cry of so many people near and far? Or do I think of prayer as to some kind of anaesthesia so I can relax?”

No hypocrisy

He stressed that, “Jesus doesn’t want hypocrisy. …True prayer is that which is accomplished in the secret of conscience, of the heart: inscrutable, visible only to God… It avoids falsehood: with God it is impossible to pretend.” Before God, he said, tricks have no power.

No room for individualism

Pope Francis noted that in the Our Father there is the absence of the word “I.” Jesus, he explained, teaches us instead to pray: “your kingdom come, your will be done”. The second half of the prayer then moves from “your” to “our”: “give us our daily bread; forgive us our trespasses”. “This use of the plural, he added, shows us that Christian prayer never asks bread for just one person, but always on behalf of others.” There is no room for individualism in dialogue with God.”

Jesus makes us pray, the Pope emphasized, even for those “who apparently do not seek God,” because God seeks these people “more than anyone else.”


A statement this afternoon from interim director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, said that, in a private audience this afternoon at the Vatican, the Holy Father received Microsoft President Brad Smith, accompanied by the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia.

During their meeting, Mr. Smith discussed the topic of artificial intelligence at the service of the common good and activities aimed at bridging the digital divide that still persists at the global level. With Abp. Paglia, he informed the Holy Father that Microsoft, together with the Pontifical Academy for Life, will promote an international prize on ethics in artificial intelligence, the theme of the Academy’s 2020 plenary assembly.

This year the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life will take place in the Vatican from February 25 to 27 to discuss the theme, ‘Roboethics: Humans, Machines and Health’, whereas the plenary assembly in 2020 will focus on artificial intelligence.


The Pontifical Academy for Life was originally instituted by St. John Paul on February 11, 1994 with the Motu proprio “Vitae mysterium.” It was dedicated to “study, information and formation on the principal problems of biomedicine and of law, relative to the promotion and defense of life, above all in the direct relation that they have with Christian morality and the directives of the Church’s Magisterium”.

In 2016 and 2017 Pope Francis overhauled one of the stars of his predecessor’s pontificate, creating a new academy, statues and members, including at least one who is pro-abortion. Remarkably the original requirement for members to sign a “Declaration of the Servants of Life” was removed. This aimed at making explicit the members’ willingness to follow Church teaching on the sacredness of human life and to defend life on the Magisterium’s teaching.

Pope Francis also included the idea of “human ecology” and creation in outlining the focal points of the academy.

Today’s papal message comes just before 46th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Friday, January 18, and the 13th edition of the March for Life in Paris on Sunday, January 20.

The Vatican news portal on Monday published a Message from Francis to the Paris March with words of encouragement.

As I read – and re-read – today’s Message I noted something interesting: the words “right to life,” “pro-life” and “unborn” do not appear. “Abortion” appears once. Humanism 5 times, humanity 5 times, human 9 times (separate from humanity and humanism).


On the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope Francis calls on its members to promote human fraternity and a humanism of life.
By Christopher Wells (vaticannews)

Pope Francis made the “human community” the focus of a letter addressed to the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life on the 25th anniversary of its foundation by Pope St John Paul II. (vaticannews photo)

God’s dream
“The human community is God’s dream even from before the creation of the world,” the Pope said, emphasizing that we must “grow in the awareness of our common origin in God’s love and creative act.” He explained that “in our time, the Church is called once more to propose the humanism of the life that bursts forth from God’s passion for human beings.”

A state of emergency
After briefly reviewing the history of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope Francis went on to outline the “serious obstacles” facing humanity today. In particular, he noted the “state of emergency existing in our relationship with the history of the earth and its peoples.” This emergency, rooted in concern for oneself at the expense of the common good, has led to a paradox: despite rapid economic and technological progress, humanity finds itself “creating our most bitter divisions and our worst nightmares.”

A difficult task for the Church
In response, the Pope said, the Church is called to react against the negativity that “foments division, indifference, and hostility.” This is a difficult task for the Church, which is in danger of failing to recognize the gravity of the contemporary emergency. “It’s time,” he said, “for a new vision aimed at promoting a humanism of fraternity and solidarity between individuals and peoples.”

Speaking of the future of the Academy, Pope Francis said, “We need to enter into the language of men and women today, making the Gospel message incarnate in their concrete experience.” He expressed his hope that the Pontifical Academy for Life might be “a place for courageous dialogue in the service of the common good.” In particular, the Pope spoke of the importance of seeking universal criteria for making decisions, as well as a deepening understanding of the relationship between rights and duties. He called, too, for continued study of “emergent” and “convergent” technologies, mentioning specifically information and communication technologies, biotechnologies, nanotechnologies, and robotics.

The unkept promise of modernity
Finally, Pope Francis said, “The kind of medicine, economy, technology, and politics that develop within the modern city of man must also, above all, remain subject to the judgment rendered by the peripheries of the earth.” We should remember, he said, “that fraternity remains the unkept promise of modernity.”

“The strengthening of fraternity,” he said in conclusion, “generated in the human family by the worship of God in spirit and truth, is the new frontier of Christianity.”

Read the full text of Pope Francis’ Letter to the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life for the 25th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Academy.



In case you were unaware, the Rome Bureau of EWTN has its own Twitter account, FB page and Instagram account – enjoy!:

Two important talks today from Pope Francis – one to the Pontifical Academy of Life, a body whose membership and statutes the Pope has restructured over the past year, and a second talk to the Gravissimum Educationis Foundation which he founded in October 2015.


Pope Francis addresses the General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Life on Monday focusing his remarks on the theme of the two-day workshop: situating human life within the wider context of the globalized world.

Sr. Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp (

The Pontifical Academy of Life is holding a two-day workshop June 25 and 26.. Pope Francis met with the participants on Monday and shared his thoughts with them regarding the theme: “Equal Beginnings. But then? A global responsibility.”

Science at the service of life
Pope Francis began saying that “human ecology” needs to be encouraged to consider “the ethical and spiritual quality of life in all of its phases”. Scientific studies on the human person are important, but need to be integrated within the broader realization of the person’s origins. Human life “burst on the world scene with the wonder of word and thought, of affections and spirit”, the Pope said.

The “dirty work” of death
When babies are exposed to privation and war; when the old are abandoned—“we instead perform the ‘dirty’ work of death”, Pope Francis continued. Christians must be strong in their inspiration and commit themselves ever more vigorously to work against such works sustained by sin, he said.

Dignity of the human person
Christian bioethics must not define the value of a person beginning from illness. It must begin with the “profound conviction of the irrevocable dignity of the human person, just as God loves each person” through every phase and in every condition of life, Pope Francis said.

Holistic vision
A holistic vision should situate the person within the context of both the connections and differences we live, beginning with the human body. “It is through our body that the human person is in relationship with the environment and other living beings”, the Pope said, quoting Laudato Si’. Those who understand the world as God’s gift have first accepted their bodies as God’s gift, he said.

Global bioethics
Relying on purely legal regulations or technical assistance in the bioethics field will never guarantee the dignity of the human person. That can only come from the “adequate support of a responsible human proximity”, Pope Francis said.

Life’s ultimate destination
A culture of life always looks toward life’s ultimate destination, Pope Francis concluded. Christian wisdom must passionately contribute to the thought that “humankind is destined to share in God’s life” after death where we will remain in eternal awe before all things “ ‘visible’ and ‘invisible’, hidden in the Creator’s womb”.


Inviting the Gravissimum Educationis Foundation to offer hope, Pope Francis says Catholic education gives soul to our globalized world and radiates the promise of Christian salvation.
By Devin Watkins (

Pope Francis on Monday spoke to participants in the Gravissimum Educationis Foundation’s conference entitled, “To Educate is to Transform”. He encouraged the group in their efforts to coordinate between Catholic educational institutions, and offered them three suggestions.

Increase networking

Pope Francis first urged the Foundation to network among institutions, so as to make them more effective by drawing on each one’s intellectual and cultural strong points.

He said networking means uniting fields of study, creating spaces for cultural encounter and dialogue, and making schools “educating communities”. This, he said, means uniting students and teachers in mutual sharing through “a curriculum of life and experience.”

Given the global challenges facing the human family, Pope Francis said Catholic education “recognizes that humankind’s moral responsibility today does not just extend through space, but also through time, and that present choices have repercussions for future generations.”

Face social change optimistically

Secondly, Pope Francis invited the Foundation’s members to teach people to face social change optimistically. The goal, he said, is for men and women to “immerse themselves in reality with the light that radiates from the promise of Christian salvation.”

The Pope said Catholic educators must not lose hope but offer it to today’s world.

“We need to give a soul to the global world through an intellectual and moral formation that can support the good things that globalization brings and correct the harmful ones,” he said.

Focus on: identity, quality, common good

Finally, Pope Francis offered the Gravissimum Educationis Foundation three criteria in order to be effective. Identity, quality, and care for the common good, he said, are essential to the Catholic educator’s task.

Schools and universities need to be consistent and show continuity between their foundational mission and the Church’s mission of evangelization, the Pope said. By focusing on the quality of their education and the common good, he said educators can help all understand that “we belong to one human family”.

“To fulfill your mission, therefore, you must lay its foundations in a way consistent with our Christian identity; establish means appropriate for the quality of study and research; and pursue goals in harmony with service to the common good.”

About Gravissimum Educationis Foundation

Pope Francis established the Gravissimum Educationis Foundation at the request of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education in October 2015. Its purpose is to renew the Church’s commitment to Catholic education in step with the historical transformations of our time.



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:


STATUTES of the Pontifical Academy for Life:

SERVANTS OF LIFE: Declaration signed by all those who are nominated Members of the Academy (

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:

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: