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St. John Paul II’s Academy For Life Is Long Gone

September 15, 2022 Frontpage No Comments

By CHRISTOPHER MANION

Ten years ago, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, admitted in the Wall Street Journal that America’s bishops had suffered from “laryngitis” about Humanae Vitae for years.
Well, it’s contagious. In fact, silence reigns in Rome these days, as defenders of the Church’s teaching on love and family remain woefully silent.
Meanwhile, however, a chorus of Vatican “progressives” has risen to target the magisterial truths so valiantly articulated by St. Paul VI’s masterful encyclical.
As “Exhibit A,” consider what has happened to the Pontifical Academy for Life (Pontificia Accademia per la Vita, or PAV).
In 1994, Pope St. John Paul II founded this revered institution. Its sole purpose: to foster “the interdisciplinary study and defense of human life in all its stages.”
For 23 years, the Academy’s scholars did just that — until Pope Francis suddenly fired them all at one stroke, restructured the Academy, and appointed a new membership at the end of 2016.
When the Pope appointed the scandal-ridden Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia to head the new PAV, defenders of the family knew that the Academy would head downhill fast.
Paglia had already come under fire when, as bishop of Terni-Narni-Amelia, he had commissioned a mural (“disgusting,” “lurid,” and “blasphemous,” said the critics) for his cathedral in 2017. Its narcissistic, homosexual themes were blatantly offensive, but today it still adorns the cathedral while scandalizing the laity daily.
The original Academy’s members dismissed with such smug disdain quickly recognized that the new PAV had taken a dangerous direction. In 2017, several of them made a commitment to continue formally the pursuit of the lofty goals of Pope St. John Paul II for the Academy.
After prayerful consideration, these valiant defenders of the faith founded the John-Paul II Academy for Human Life and Family (JAHLF).
While scholars at the JAHLF continued their important work, the desiccated remains of the PAV/2 spun out of control under the direction of Paglia.
This past July 11, the PAV/2’s official Twitter account sent the following message around the world:
“Be careful: what is dissent today, can change. It is not relativism, it is the dynamics of the understanding of phenomena and science: the Sun does not rotate around the Earth. Otherwise there would be no progress and everything would stand still. Even in theology. Think about it.”
Such high-toned hubris is the calling card of the faux church’s brazen destroyers, the disciples of dissent who pander their counterfeit credo for the fawning fakes so ubiquitous in the Secular City.
Later in July, Pope Francis upped the ante when he told journalists, “When dogma or morality develop, it’s a good thing. A Church that doesn’t develop its thinking in an ecclesial sense is a church that goes backward. . . . Dogma, morality, is always in a path of development, but development in the same direction.”
On that point, His Holiness might take a humble tip from C.S. Lewis. In Mere Christianity, Lewis writes, “Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road.”
The JAHLF has followed faithfully the “right road” for the past five years. However, under Archbishop Paglia, the PAV/2 has made a “wrong turn.”
Last week it wound up in the ditch.

Wrong Road? Turn Around!

Dr. Thomas Ward is founder of the National Association of Catholic Families. Dr. Ward served as a Corresponding Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life until Pope Francis ransacked it in 2016, but he didn’t let that daunt his devotion to life and family.
Today Dr. Ward serves as president of the JAHLF Academy.
This past Monday, he issued a statement that speaks for itself: “Last Friday 26 August, Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV), was a guest on the RAI 3 programme Agorà- Summer. At one point, the presenter, Giorgia Rombolà, asked Msgr. Paglia for an opinion on law 194/1978, which legalized procured abortion in Italy. Msgr. Paglia replied: ‘I think that law 194 is now a pillar of our social life’.”
It should be made clear immediately that the president of the PAV, in expressing himself in this way, did not intend to merely report a judgment present in the community on the 194 law, a judgment that he did not share — as Dr. Fabrizio Mastrofini, Msgr. Paglia’s spokesman, attempted to claim a few days later in an official note — but rather, was it not that he wanted to express his own personal judgment, a judgment of appreciation?
Indeed that it was a judgment of appreciation is proved by the fact that to a subsequent question from the interviewer who asked Archbishop Paglia whether he intended to question this law, the latter replied: “No, absolutely, absolutely!”
So Archbishop Paglia explicitly defended a law that has caused more than 6 million abortions in Italy since 1978. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls that since the dawn of its history, the Church has condemned abortion and “this teaching has not changed. It remains invariable. Direct abortion, that is, abortion sought as an end or as a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law” (n. 2271).
“The John Paul II Academy for Human Life and Family, of which I am a member, has called upon Paglia to resign,” Dr. Ward stated.
When news of the interview elicited criticism around the world, the PAV/2 issued a statement insisting that Paglia’s “intention was to simply state that the law is now entrenched in the Italian legal system, not to express a positive view of it.” Paglia “has spoken and written about the defense of and support for life from its beginning until its end, and in all its circumstances,” the statement continued.
But the PAV/2 has a surprisingly short memory. Just a week before Paglia’s RAI television interview, the PAV/2 distributed an account of a recent conversation with Fr. Maurizio Chiodi.
According to the article, “Fr. Chiodi in 2017 publicly argued that some circumstances in marriage could ‘require contraception’ as a matter of responsibility. In the August 19 article, Chiodi said, ‘Humanae Vitae, like any encyclical, including Veritatis Splendor, is an authoritative document, but with no claim to infallibility’.”
Curious. Chiodi was made a member of the PAV/2 that same year — 2017. In the past five years he hasn’t changed his mind: Humanae Vitae is optional because it “has no claim to infallibility.”
By that standard, does Pope Francis have to declare the Doctrine of the Virgin Birth or Christ’s Resurrection “ex cathedra” in order to prevent the Fr. Chiodi’s of the world from declaring them up for grabs?
They might see it that way. Our friend Katrina Carranco in Rome reports that the PAV/2 came under fire in July after publishing a 528 page book entitled Theological Ethics of Life: Scripture, Tradition, Practical Challenges. Hidden in the middle of the book, she writes, the authors attempt to shift the Church’s teaching on contraception from “true” to “maybe.”
Even more troubling is the comment of Archbishop Paglia, listed as the book’s editor, who told Vatican News that the book’s writers “followed a path of study and reflection that led [them] to see the issues of bioethics in a new light.”
Paglia also claimed that Pope Francis was informed of every step and encouraged their project.
Rather than making a U-turn as suggested by Mr. Lewis, Msgr. Paglia has stepped on the gas, embracing the Pope’s notion of “development in the same direction.”
He’s going so fast that he missed the street sign — “Strada Senza Uscita.” Dead End.

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