Members of the Pontifical Academy for Life want its top officials to resign over a series of recent controversial decisions, including a conference described as the “worst day” in its history.
“I am not alone with my feeling of profound shock over the (Febuary 2012) public conference and some of the official PAV communications,” wrote Professor Josef Seifert, a member of the academy, in a May 4 letter to its president Bishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula.
The professor told the academy president that he “can understand those members – most of whom never before criticized the Pontifical Academy for Life and are very soft-spoken – who told me that the only choice that remains for the Directory Board … is to resign.”
In the wake of February’s conference and subsequent events, Seifert expressed his “enormous concern” over the prospect of the academy “losing its full and pure commitment to the truth and its enthusiastic service to the unreduced magnificent Church teaching on human life in its whole splendor.”
Billed as a conference on ethical treatments for infertility, the pontifical academy’s Feb. 24 assembly drew criticism from some participants who said it provided a platform for opponents of Church teaching. In Friday’s letter, Seifert called it “the worst day in our history” at the Academy for Life.
In March, the academy canceled a planned conference on adult stem cells, which was due to feature speakers who also support embryonic research. Conference organizers went on to distance the academy from “some pro-life activists,” while giving varying explanations for the cancellation.
Natural family planning expert Mercedes Wilson, an academy member who presented at the February 2012 conference, joined Prof. Seifert in criticizing that event and the academy’s recent direction.
Many academy members, she told CNA, “were shocked to hear that several of the invited presenters did not represent the teachings of the Catholic Church” at that gathering.
Wilson said she was one of “only two presenters who offered the audience natural solutions to the problems of infertility,” along with Pope Paul VI Institute founder Dr. Thomas Hilgers.
“As His Holiness Benedict XVI read his message to the participants of the assembly, it was obvious that he was not aware that the president and its governing council had invited presenters who are in complete disaccord with the teachings of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church,” Wilson recounted.
“There were presentations on in vitro fertilization, and other medical procedures that are forbidden by the teachings of the Church. This became a public scandal in an academy that was formed specifically to defend life and protect the teachings of Holy Mother Church.”