Pope Benedict XVI appointed four new members to the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life.  The new appointees include Dr. John Haas, an American who serves as president of the United States’ National Catholic Bioethics Center.

The Pontifical Academy for Life is a team of scientists and ethicists representing different branches of biomedical sciences who are appointed by the Holy Father to work with the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers and various other dicasteries to discuss issues related to science and the protection of the dignity of human life.

Dr. Haas’s appointment stems from his extensive expertise in bioethics and Catholic moral theology.  The National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) of which he is president, was established in 1972 to provide education, research, and consultation in order to safeguard the dignity of the human person in health care and the life sciences.  The NCBC consults regularly with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as public policy makers, hospitals, and international organizations.

Prior to serving at the NCBC Dr. Haas taught as a professor at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, The John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies, the Pontifical College Josephinum, and the Ohio State University.

 In addition to Dr. Haas, the Holy Father also named Bishop Daniel Nlandu Mayi, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Dr. Alejandro Cesar Serani Merlo, Professor of Neurology and Bioethics at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile; and Dr. Monica Lopez Barahona, Dean of Bio-sciences at the "Francisco de Vitoria" University of Madrid, Spain.  All four members were appointed as ordinary members.

The academy consists of seventy ordinary members named by the pope, as well as three "ad honorem" members and members through correspondence who work in institutes and centers of study on the culture of life.