Vatican board asked to resign over conference
Vatican City: Members of the Vatican's bioethics advisory panel have called for its board to resign after scientists who don't support core church teaching on issues like birth control and infertility were featured at its annual conference.
The members said the Pontifical Academy of Life's Feb 24 conference on diagnosing and treating infertility was a "Planned Parenthood-like meeting" that caused great scandal.
They were upset because it was a Vatican meeting open to the public yet "consisted in promoting uncritically what the church teaches to be intrinsically bad."
Church teaching opposes in vitro fertilization because it separates conception from intercourse between husband and wife, and often results in the destruction of embryos. The Vatican also opposes artificial contraception, holding that life begins at conception.
In the past, the academy has tended to invite only like-minded professionals to speak at its conferences, ensuring that its proceedings, papers and discussions reflect church teaching. Members say this is designed to give the faithful the best in scientific information that is in-line with Catholic doctrine.
Under the academy's new head, Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, there seems to be a new openness however to engage with non-likeminded scientists while holding true to church teaching on the need to defend life from conception until natural death.
Josef Seifert, an academy member who is rector of the International Academy of Philosophy in Liechtenstein, wrote a letter May 4 to Carrasco suggesting that the Pontifical Academy's board resign.
He cited the "enormous concern" of several members that the academy was "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."
The letter, first reported by the Catholic News Agency, said five of the first seven presentations dealt with the pill, artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization from a purely neutral standpoint, neglecting any moral references.
"This alone is a great evil for a public congress sponsored by (the academy) because a neutral scientific description of methods of infertility treatment has absolutely no place in our academy, which was explicitly founded to deal with these matters in the light of anthropological, theological and moral truth," he wrote.