Restructuring at the Pontifical Academy for Life
The Pontifical Academy for Life was formed by St. John Paul II in 1994 with a pro-life mission 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.”
The academy’s first president, Venerable Jérôme Lejeune, established bylaws requiring members of the academy to sign a declaration stating, “before God and men we bear witness that for us every human being is a person” and that “from the moment the embryo is formed until death it is the same human being which grows to maturity and dies.”
In 2016, however, with the appointment of Archbishop Paglia as president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope Francis approved new statutes that eliminated the requirement that members declare themselves “pro-life.”
However, the academy’s new statutes still require members to conform with Church teaching.
The statutes also say members, or academicians, appointed by the pope, can be of any religion, though they should “promote and defend the principles regarding the value of life and dignity of the human person, interpreted in a way that conforms to the Magisterium of the Church.”
An academician can have his or her membership revoked, the statutes say, “in the case of a public and deliberate action or statement manifestly contrary to said principles, or seriously offensive to the dignity and credibility of the Catholic Church and the Academy itself.”
Zelda Caldwell is News Editor at Catholic News Agency based in Washington, DC. She previously worked for Aleteia, as News and Culture editor.