Bishop Elio Sgreccia, the 82-year old former head of the Pontifical Academy of Life, expressed surprise at being named a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI.
"I understand it as an encouragement for the work that I humbly seek to do," Bishop Sgreccia said in an interview with Vatican Radio Oct. 20, shortly after the Pope announced his appointment of 24 new cardinals at the conclusion of his weekly general audience.
Cardinal-designate Sgreccia is a bioethicist. He has worked extensively on the spiritual side of medicine "full time" for the better part of the last four decades. He has been an organizer and member of numerous international and Italian national commissions for bioethics while also serving as director of the bioethics programs at two Catholic universities in Rome in the 1980s and 1990s.
From 1992-1996 he served as secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family. He spent the remainder of his Vatican career at the Pontifical Academy for Life, holding the position of vice president from 1994-2005 and president from 2005-2008.
Among his many publications is his two-volume "Manual of Bioethics," an authoritative guide to Church positions in the field.
Cardinal-designate Sgreccia continues to study scientific issues related birth control, stem-cell research, cloning and genetic technology.
His selection as a cardinal, he said, is “a further motivation to continue on this path. As long as I can, I will mobilize people so that they promote human life and its dignity in all its aspects.”
"This is an infinite field," he explained, "beautiful and worthy of being followed by many people."