Other Americans in the academy include Kathleen M. Foley, a neurologist and secretary of the board of directors of Physicians for Human Rights; John M. Haas, president emeritus of the National Catholic Bioethics Center; and Ignatius John Keown, a professor of Christian ethics at Georgetown University.
Cardinal Willem Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht, Netherlands, and Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, Australia, are also ordinary members based on their bioethics backgrounds.
Some 2017 appointments to the academy garnered criticism, in particular, that of Nigel Biggar, an Anglican theologian, who has previously supported legalized abortion up to 18 weeks and expressed qualified support for euthanasia.
A few other members, including Father Maurizio Chiodi, have also expressed a belief in the morality of contraceptive use in marriage, which the Catholic Church considers a grave sin.
The changes to the statutes of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the appointment of Archbishop Paglia as president, and the nomination of some non-Catholic members were also the subject of disagreement among some Catholics.
Controversy included disappointment at the removal of French geneticist Lejeune's declaration of fidelity to the pro-life teachings of the Church.
In an interview with the National Catholic Register in 2017, Paglia defended the revised statutes.
"I think [critics] will find that the new Statutes require a stronger commitment on the part of Members to the Church's pro-life teaching than do the old," he said.
"In that context, however," he added, "I also want to point out that the Academy's absolute fidelity to the Church's Magisterium in no way means that we are unable to undertake joint initiatives or enter into dialogue with persons who do not share our Catholic belief and commitment."
Earlier this year, a Jesuit-run Catholic journal came under fire from over 50 organizations for an article supporting legalized assisted suicide written by a Pontifical Academy for Life member.
In his article, Father Carlo Cassone, SJ, a moral theology professor at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University, argued that an Italian bill to legalize assisted suicide could be "an acceptable 'imperfect' law."
The academy's chancellor, Father Pegoraro, also appeared to express sympathy for the idea in an interview with French Catholic newspaper La Croix.
In another Twitter controversy, the Pontifical Academy for Life received over 200 responses, most negative, to a post on Apr. 6, 2021, marking the death of the dissenting theologian Hans Küng.
The influential and controversial Swiss theologian, who rejected papal infallibility, Catholic teaching on contraception, and the moral impermissibility of assisted suicide, was described on the academy's Twitter as "a great figure in the theology of the last century whose ideas and analyzes (sic) must always make us reflect on the Catholic Church, the Churches, the society, the culture."
In 2019, a week after Swiss bishops published guidelines stating pastoral caregivers should not be present during a person's death by assisted suicide, Pontifical Academy for Life President Paglia told journalists he would be willing to hold the hand of someone dying from assisted suicide, and that he did not see that as lending implicit support for the practice.
Fabrizio Mastrofini has been the Pontifical Academy for Life's social media manager and press officer since 2017.