By Hilary White
ROME, May 6, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – One prominent international pro-life leader has reacted angrily to the rumor, circulated last month by Italian and U.S. journalists, that the head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV), Archbishop “Rino” Salvatore Fisichella, could be promoted to the head of a new dicastery.
John Smeaton, the head of the Society for the Protection for Unborn Children (SPUC), one of Europe’s most prominent and successful pro-life and pro-family organizations, wrote on his blog today that the position Fisichella outlined in his now infamous article about a Brazilian abortion case – together with the support by the English bishops for the U.K. government’s sex education programs – “are cancers which are threatening to destroy countless human lives.”
“A perception that Cafeteria Catholicism prevails in the church will end up serving up the right to abortion worldwide,” he said.
Rumors continue to circulate in Rome and in the press that Pope Benedict’s Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization will be headed up by Fisichella, who launched himself to international fame last year with an article in L’Osservatore Romano that many took as indication that the Church was softening its teaching on abortion. The article, titled, “On the Side of the Brazilian Girl,” purported to support a nine year-old rape victim whose twin children were aborted in March last year, against the actions of her local bishop, who had announced the automatic excommunication of the abortionists, and those who facilitated the abortion. Fisichella wrote, “Other people deserve excommunication and our forgiveness: not those who have allowed you to live….”
Smeaton wrote, “How would such a scandalous appointment affect the world's perception of Catholic moral teaching on abortion? And, in Obama's push for a universal right to abortion, how would such an appointment affect the world's perception of conscientious objection to abortion on the part of health professionals?”
The new Vatican department will reportedly focus on the re-evangelization of Europe and other western countries that have largely abandoned their traditional Christian foundations. Fisichella’s appointment is said to be anticipated on the basis of his ability to handle the press and his connections around Europe in the academic world.
Smeaton continued, “In the interests of the lives of unborn babies worldwide Archbishop Fisichella should be removed form the Pontifical Academy for Life without the consolation prize of a promotion especially one which might make him a Cardinal.”
Whoever heads it, the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization will likely be an office that will earn its leader a red hat, an issue of grave concern to pro-life advocates who were horrified at Fisichella’s article and who have called for him to be removed from any responsible Vatican office.
Far from the controversy dying down, in March this year, Professor Joseph Seifert, a senior member of the PAV and the founder and rector of the International Academy of Philosophy in Liechtenstein, wrote that he believed Fisichella had knowingly departed from the Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life, an action that should completely disqualify him for any office.
With his article, Seifert said, Fisichella promoted “a new moral doctrine diametrically opposed to the teachings of the Church and particularly to those of the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae.”
This, Seifert said, “would make it impossible to nominate him as bishop of a diocese, let alone of a diocese linked to a Cardinal’s hat and rank.”
“Only an unshakeable and courageous commitment to the full extent of Catholic teaching can qualify a person for such influential and responsible positions for the flock for which Christ has laid down his life.”
Seifert revealed that at their annual meeting this year, he had proposed to Archbishop Fisichella that the entire PAV, including its head, issue a statement that unequivocally pledged their support for the Catholic teaching. Fisichella, Seifert said, refused the suggestion.
Read LSN’s extensive coverage of the Fisichella scandal here.
Congregation for the Bishops
Giovanni Battista Re, Cardinal, Prefect
Francesco Monterisi, Secretary
Palazzo della Congregazioni,
Piazza Pio XII, 10
William Cardinal Levada
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Piazza del S. Uffizio, 11, 00193 Roma, Italy