Catholic Doctor Criticizes Pope Francis for Appointing Abortion Activist to Pontifical Academy for Life

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Oct 20, 2022   |   5:19PM   |   The Vatican

A prominent Catholic medical doctor criticized church leaders Wednesday for appointing academics who oppose teachings about the sanctity of human life to an institution dedicated to defending it.

Dr. José María Simón Castellví, president emeritus of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, said he cannot remain silent anymore about the recent appointments of “pro-abortion academics, advocates of euthanasia to some degree or detractors of ‘Humanae Vitae’” to the Pontifical Academy for Life by Pope Francis, the Catholic News Agency reports.

Castellví, of Spain, said St. Pope John Paul II created the academy in 1994 to bring academics and other experts together to explore ways to defend human life from conception to natural death.

“… induced abortion is an offense against God, mothers, children and medicine. It’s anti-medicine. It can never be accepted or promoted,” he said.

Although Castellví did not mention anyone by name, his statement came after Pope Francis named pro-abortion economist Mariana Mazzucato, a University College London economist who has advocated for abortion repeatedly on Twitter, and Msgr. Philippe Bordeyne, a theologian critical of “Humanae Vitae,” to the academy last week, according to CNA.

The action quickly received widespread criticism from Catholic and pro-life leaders. Castellví said church leaders had other options for the academy, and “worthy pro-life scientists were left out.”

Defending the appointments this week, a Vatican spokesperson said “debate and dialogue … between people of different backgrounds” is important.

Castellví said he understands that, but the academy should not be offering pro-abortion academics “a platform to spread their ideas. They already have too many in the secular world and with an overwhelming majority.”

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With the overturning of Roe v. Wade in the United States, the doctor said there is a huge opportunity for the academy to promote life across the world.

“It’s an open door for protecting life in a very important Western country from various points of view and I believe that it will help us over time to reverse the scourge of abortion, whether the [abortion] lobby likes it or not,” Castellví said. “It’s not everything and not everything is won, but we should still be celebrating it.”

Pope Francis appointed Mazzucato and six other academics to the academy Oct. 15. Afterward, Catholic Culture found numerous posts on her Twitter page that criticized the U.S. Supreme Court for overturning Roe v. Wade and claimed aborting unborn babies is “health care.”

On June 24, Mazzucato shared a quote from Nicola Sturgeon, who wrote: “One of the darkest days for women’s rights in my lifetime. Obviously the immediate consequences will be suffered by women in the US—but this will embolden anti-abortion & anti-women forces in other countries too.”

That same day, she shared another tweet from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that claimed: “Safe #abortion is health care. It saves lives. …”

Mazzucato’s abortion activism immediately raised concerns among Catholics and pro-life advocates. However, the Vatican defended Mazzucato, saying she will contribute to “fruitful dialogue” on the life issues.

The Pontifical Academy for Life promotes protections for human life at all stages and conducts research on moral and bioethical issues. It is influential world-wide in promoting Catholic teachings on abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research and other issues involving life and family.

Mazzucato is not the first abortion supporter whom Pope Francis has appointed to the academy. In 2017, the pope also faced criticism for appointing Nigel Biggar, a professor of theology at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, who made statements supporting abortion up to 18 weeks of pregnancy.

Pope Francis repeatedly has condemned the killing of unborn babies in abortions, likening it to hiring a “hitman” to kill a child. However, his actions continue to raise questions.

According to CNA, the pope has made a number of changes to the Pontifical Academy for Life in recent years, including no longer requiring members to sign a declaration that they are pro-life or requiring that they be Christians.

The academy does say members 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,” and members may be removed if their public actions or statements contradict or offend “the dignity and credibility of the Catholic Church,” according to the report.]