Another appointee of Pope Francis to the Pontifical Academy for Life was caught advocating for the killing of unborn babies in abortions this month.
The National Catholic Register reports Roberto Dell’Oro, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said abortions should be legal until an unborn baby is capable of feeling pain during a public event Oct. 12 at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Dell’Oro, a bioethicist at Loyola, also criticized the U.S. Supreme Court for overturning Roe v. Wade in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health ruling in June.
The news comes amid criticism about Pope Francis appointing academics who oppose church teachings about the sanctity of human life to an institution dedicated to defending it. The Pontifical Academy for Life, created in 1994 by Pope John Paul II, 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.
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However, the pope recently appointed several academics to the academy who publicly support the killing of unborn babies in abortions.
This month, Dell’Oro, a 2015 appointee to the academy, organized the panel discussion, “Confronting the Dobbs Decision: A Conversation About the Legality of Abortion,” featuring himself and two other abortion supporters at Loyola, according to the report.
Dell’Oro criticized the Supreme Court for overturning Roe, saying democracy should maximize, not restrict “a space of personal freedom for all citizens, including women,” the Register reports.
While he said Roe went too far by making viability the point at which states may ban abortions, he asserted that the court should make abortions legal up until the point when an unborn baby can feel pain.
“I submit that the ability of the fetus to feel pain represents the point at which the legal right to choice ought to end,” Dell’Oro said, calling his position a “compromise.”
Scientists disagree about when an unborn baby can feel pain, and it is not clear from the Register report when Dell’Oro thinks that point is. Some scientists say it happens as early as eight weeks and others about 16 weeks; the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists even asserts that an unborn baby cannot feel pain until about 27 weeks, which is past viability.
No matter what Dell’Oro’s beliefs about fetal pain, his abortion position is contrary to Catholic Church teaching about the sanctity of human life, which recognizes unborn babies as valuable human beings from the moment of conception.
Dell’Oro refused to comment when Register contacted him about his recent statements.
His talk raises even more alarm about Pope Francis’s commitment to upholding the sanctity of life. Earlier this month, Catholics also expressed alarm after the pope named pro-abortion economist Mariana Mazzucato, a University College London economist, to the Pontifical Academy for Life.
Catholic Culture found numerous posts on Mazzucato’s Twitter page that criticized the U.S. Supreme Court for overturning Roe and claimed aborting unborn babies is “health care.”
Defending the appointments last week, a Vatican spokesperson said “debate and dialogue … between people of different backgrounds” is important.
But other Catholic leaders expressed concerns that these appointees could erode the pro-life mission of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
Dr. José María Simón Castellví, president emeritus of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, said 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,” the Catholic News Agency reports.
“… induced abortion is an offense against God, mothers, children and medicine. It’s anti-medicine. It can never be accepted or promoted,” he said.
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.