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The Vatican Bubble

Posted by Don McLenaghen on May 27, 2012

Members of the Vatican’s bioethics advisory panel have called for its board to resign after scientists who don’t support core church teaching on issues like birth control and infertility were featured at its annual conference.

Pontifical Academy of Life’s Feb. 24 conference on diagnosing and treating infertility was a “Planned Parenthood-like meeting” that caused great scandal. They were upset because it was a Vatican meeting open to the public yet “consisted in promoting uncritically what the church teaches to be intrinsically bad.”

The Pontifical Academy for Life is a Pontifical Academy of the Roman Catholic Church dedicated to promoting the Church’s consistent life ethic. It also does related research on bioethics and Catholic moral theology.

Founded in 1994, the Academy is 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 the past, the academy invites only like-minded professionals to speak at its conferences to ensure a consistency in moral views. The participants were expected to provide scientific advice but advice ‘faithful’ to the catholic doctrines. However the academy’s new president seems to be too enlightened. He decided to be a bit more open with the advice the academy was receiving by inviting people who did not necessarily share the churches view on conception, natural death, etc…

At the February conference five of the first seven presentations dealt with the pill, artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization from a purely neutral standpoint, neglecting any moral references.

This enraged some of the academies members. The rector of Academy of Philosophy in Liechtenstein wrote the academy was “losing its full and pure commitment to the truth and its enthusiastic service to the unreduced magnificent church teaching on human life in its whole splendor.”

He continued “This alone is a great evil for a public congress sponsored by (the academy) because a neutral scientific description of methods of infertility treatment has absolutely no place in our academy, which was explicitly founded to deal with these matters in the light of anthropological, theological and moral truth”.

The academy’s co-ordinating secretary rejected the criticism stating “the academy was a scientific research institution “open to dialogue with the scientific world.”

However this may reflect a growing dispute within the Catholic hierarchy as Pope Benedict pushed back against some of the modernizing reforms of Pope John Paul and attempts to return the church and ALL its institutions, such as religious orders, hospitals and academies, to a more traditional Catholic identity.

In March, it hastily cancelled a stem cell research conference whose speakers included scientists whose work involves human embryonic stem cells, which is opposed by the church.


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