The Pontifical Academy for Life or Pontificia Accademia per la Vita is a Pontifical Academy of the Roman Catholic Church dedicated to promoting the Church's consistent life ethic. It also does related research on bioethics and Catholic moral theology.
Founded in 1994, the Academy is dedicated 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".
Though the Academy is considered an autonomous entity, it is linked to the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers and various other dicasteries of the Roman Curia.
The Academy members are named by the Pope. They are selected to represent different branches of biomedical sciences and ethics which are closely linked with problems concerning the promotion and defense of life. There are also ad honorem members and corresponding members who work in the Academy's institutes and centers of study.
The Academy is responsible for the development and promotion of many of the Catholic teachings on questions of medical ethics including procreation, IVF, gene therapy, euthanasia and abortion. [ citation needed ]It was also responsible for forming, in part, the Church's response to sexual abuse allegations.
On 14 February 2010, Pope Benedict XVI addressed members of the Academy to encourage them in their mission. He reiterated Catholic opposition to legislation relating to biomedical or ethical issues that is adopted without moral considerations.
In February 2012, the Academy presented a one-day workshop on moral responses to infertility, specifically the need for the scientific community to prevent infertility and develop ethical alternatives to in vitro fertilization.Academy member Josef Seifert, an Austrian philosopher, and several others later complained that the meeting included speakers who did not oppose in vitro fertilization and objected to including supporters of embryonic stem cell research to participate in a Vatican-sponsored conference on stem cell research. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, defended dialogue with scientists who did not share the Church's views on moral issues, while Michel Schooyans, an Academy member, said such dialogue under Vatican auspices was "compromising the Vatican" and likely to confuse the faithful.
In 2020, the Academy hosted a workshop "Roboethics: Humans, Machines and Health" that accommodated scientists and church representatives. They discussed moral issues related to the rapid development of AI and robotics, a set of values to be established around these new technologies, their role in the life of society, and the rights that should be given to humans and new forms of autonomous technology. Participants agreed on the importance of technical research and scheduled another AI-focused meeting for the next year.
In 2021 it published a report calling for a global policy shift towards home care and intergenerational community support for older people. They want to see more home assistance, ‘neighbourhood health personnel’, new models of family homes and cohabitation and other home care services to encourage people to remain at home.
On 18 October 2016, Pope Francis approved new statutes for the Academy, which ended the life terms of all its 172 current members. The statutes were made public on 5 November and scheduled to take effect on 1 January 2017.The new statutes dropped a statement Academy members had been required to sign, promising to defend life in accordance with Church teaching, though they required members to "promote and defend the principles regarding the value of life and the dignity of the human person interpreted in conformity with the Magisterium of the Church". They also established that members would be selected "without any religious discrimination" and that members would be appointed to five-year renewable terms rather than for life.
On 13 June 2017, Pope Francis appointed 45 ordinary members from 27 countries; thirteen were reappointments. A minority were Catholic clergy. Their five-year terms can be renewed until the mandatory retirement age of 80. Included were an Argentine rabbi and an Anglican priest. Academy president Vincenzo Paglia said that the inclusion of non-Catholics, "either belonging to other religions or nonbelievers", was meant to demonstrate that "the protection and promotion of human life knows no divisions and can be assured only through common endeavor". Five past leaders of the academy were also named honorary members.The members included such prominent "champions of the pro-life cause" as the American Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, and Cardinal Willem Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht. The new member whose views were most at odds with Church teaching was Nigel Biggar of the University of Oxford who, though an opponent of assisted suicide legislation, once suggested abortion might be licit during the first eighteen weeks of a pregnancy. Some of those not reappointed had been among the more vocal critics of Paglia or known for their "combative tone", including Michel Schooyans, professor emeritus at the Catholic University of Louvain, and Luke Gormally, a former research professor at Ave Maria School of Law.
Humanae vitae is an encyclical written by Pope Paul VI and dated 25 July 1968. The text was issued at a Vatican press conference on 29 July. Subtitled On the Regulation of Birth, it re-affirmed the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding married love, responsible parenthood, and the rejection of artificial contraception. In formulating his teaching he explained why he did not accept the conclusions of the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control established by his predecessor, Pope John XXIII, a commission he himself had expanded.
Raymond Leo Burke is an American prelate of the Catholic Church. A bishop, cardinal and the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, he led the Archdiocese of St. Louis from 2004 to 2008 and the Diocese of La Crosse from 1995 to 2004. Additionally, from June 2008 until November 2014, he was the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, where he now serves as a rank-and-file member.
Justin Francis Rigali is an American cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the eighth Archbishop of Philadelphia, having previously served as Archbishop of St. Louis from 1994 to 2003. Rigali was elevated to the cardinalate in 2003.
Seán Patrick O'Malley is an American cardinal of the Catholic Church serving as the Archbishop of Boston. O'Malley is a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, commonly known as the Capuchins.
Evangelium vitae translated in English to "The Gospel of Life", is a papal encyclical promulgated on 25 March 1995 by Pope John Paul II. It deals with issues pertaining to the sanctity of human life, including murder, abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment, reaffirming the Church's stances on said issues in a way generally considered consistent with previous Church teachings.
Mary Ann Glendon is the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a former United States Ambassador to the Holy See. She teaches and writes on bioethics, comparative constitutional law, property, and human rights in international law. She is anti-abortion and "writes forcefully against the expansion of abortion rights."
The Neocatechumenal Way, also known as the Neocatechumenate, NCW, colloquially The Way, is an itinerary of Christian formation within the Catholic Church. It was formed in Madrid in 1964 by Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández. Taking its inspiration from the catechumenate of the early Catholic Church by which converts from paganism were prepared for baptism, it provides post-baptismal formation to adults who are already members of the Church or to those far from the Church who have been attracted by the testimony of Christian life of love and unity in the communities, in accordance with the designs of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is a scientific academy of the Vatican City, established in 1936 by Pope Pius XI, and thriving with the blessing of the Papacy ever since. Its aim is to promote the progress of the mathematical, physical, and natural sciences and the study of related epistemological problems. The Academy has its origins in the Accademia Pontificia dei Nuovi Lincei, founded in 1847 as a more closely supervised successor to the Accademia dei Lincei established in Rome in 1603 by the learned Roman Prince, Federico Cesi (1585–1630), who was a young botanist and naturalist, and which claimed Galileo Galilei as its president. The Accademia dei Lincei survives as a wholly separate institution.
The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace was a dicastery of the Roman Curia dedicated to "action-oriented studies" for the international promotion of justice, peace, and human rights from the perspective of the Roman Catholic Church. To this end, it cooperates with various religious institutes and advocacy groups, as well as scholarly, ecumenical, and international organizations.
William Joseph Levada was an American cardinal of the Catholic Church. From May 2005 until June 2012, he served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope Benedict XVI; he was the highest ranking American in the Roman Curia. He was previously the Archbishop of Portland in Oregon from 1986 to 1995, and then Archbishop of San Francisco from 1995 to 2005. While serving as archbishop, he was criticized for covering up sexual abuse by priests within his jurisdiction. Levada was created a cardinal in 2006 by Benedict XVI.
Vincenzo Paglia is an Italian prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He is President of the Pontifical Academy for Life and Grand Chancellor of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences. He was President of the Pontifical Council for the Family from 2012 to 2016 and Bishop of Terni-Narni-Amelia, Italy, from 2000 to 2012. He was a co-founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio in 1968.
Willem Jacobus "Wim" Eijk is a Dutch prelate of the Catholic Church, a cardinal since 2012. He has been the Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht since 2007. He was Bishop of Groningen-Leeuwarden from 1999 to 2012. Before his clerical career he worked as a doctor; as a priest he made medical ethics the focus of his academic studies.
The theology of Pope Pius XII is reflected in his forty-one encyclicals, as well as speeches and nearly 1000 messages, during his almost 20-year pontificate. The encyclicals Mystici corporis and Mediator Dei advanced the understanding of membership and participation in the Catholic Church. The encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu began opening the door to historical-critical biblical studies. But his magisterium was far larger and is difficult to summarize. In numerous speeches Catholic teaching is related to various aspects of life, education, medicine, politics, war and peace, the life of saints, Mary, the mother of God, things eternal and temporal.
Social teachings of Pope Pius XII refers to encyclicals, apostolic constitutions and speeches by Pope Pius XII on non-theological issues involving medicine, science, education, social justice, family and sexuality, and occupations.
Pope John Paul II's political views were considered conservative on issues relating to reproduction and the ordination of women during his 26-year reign as pope of the Roman Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City. A series of 129 lectures given by John Paul during his Wednesday audiences in Rome between September 1979 and November 1984 were later compiled and published as a single work entitled ‘Theology of the Body’, an extended meditation on the nature of human sexuality. He also extended it to condemnation of abortion, euthanasia and virtually all uses of capital punishment, calling them all a part of the "culture of death" that is pervasive in the modern world, advocating instead what he understood to be a "culture of life". He campaigned for world debt forgiveness and social justice.
Salvatore Fisichella, commonly known as Rino Fisichella, is an Italian prelate of the Roman Catholic Church with the rank of archbishop. He is the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation. He previously served as President of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, also translated as Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, is a dicastery of the Roman Curia whose creation was announced by Pope Benedict XVI at vespers on 28 June 2010, eve of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, to carry out the New Evangelization. The Pope said that "the process of secularisation has produced a serious crisis of the sense of the Christian faith and role of the Church", and the new pontifical council would "promote a renewed evangelisation" in countries where the Church has long existed "but which are living a progressive secularisation of society and a sort of 'eclipse of the sense of God'."
Ignacio Carrasco de Paula is a Spanish prelate of the Catholic Church. He has been a bishop since 2010. He was the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life from 2010 to 2016.
Amoris laetitia is a post-synodal apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis addressing the pastoral care of families. Dated 19 March 2016, it was released on 8 April 2016. It follows the Synods on the Family held in 2014 and 2015.
The Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life is a dicastery of the Roman Curia. Pope Francis announced its creation on 15 August 2016, effective 1 September 2016. It took over the functions and responsibilities of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family. It has responsibility "for the promotion of the life and apostolate of the lay faithful, for the pastoral care of the family and its mission according to God's plan and for the protection and support of human life."