Archbishop Clarifies Remarks on Assisted Dying in Italy

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, is pictured in a file photo during a Vatican news conference Jan. 15, 2019.

By Cindy Wooden

The president of the Pontifical Academy for Life affirms his opposition to euthanasia and assisted dying but believes that to end confusion in the country, the Italian Parliament needs to make clear laws about withdrawing end-of-life care, his office said.

“Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, in full conformity with the church’s magisterium, reaffirms his ‘no’ to euthanasia and assisted dying,” his office said in a statement April 24.

The archbishop participated in a debate April 19 about end-of-life issues, and the complete text of his remarks was published April 21 by the Italian news site Il Riformista. Some websites, reporting on his remarks, claimed he defended euthanasia and medically assisted dying.

The experience of countries where medically “assisted death” is permitted by law, he had said, shows that “the pool of people admitted tends to expand; competent adult patients are joined by patients in whom decision-making capacity is impaired, sometimes severely,” for example, psychiatric patients, children, the elderly with cognitive impairment.

“Cases of involuntary euthanasia and deep palliative sedation without consent have thus grown,” the archbishop had said. “The overall result is that we are witnessing a contradictory outcome: in the name of self-determination, we are constricting the actual exercise of freedom, especially for those who are most vulnerable.”

The desire of terminally ill patients to spare themselves and their families further suffering — and sometimes, further expense — and the difficulty caregivers have in seeing their loved ones suffer have made questions about end-of-life care a pressing issue, he said.

Pain relief, palliative care and supportive accompaniment of the sick and their family members is essential, the archbishop had told his audience. With serious palliative therapy and accompaniment, he said, “in many cases the demand for euthanasia disappears, but not always.”

Euthanasia and physician-assisted dying are not legal in Italy. However, in 2019, the Constitutional Court ruled that those involved in an assisted dying are not punishable when the patient is “suffering from an irreversible pathology” causing “physical and psychological suffering that he or she considers intolerable” and is being kept alive by life-support treatments.

The court, which ruled only on the punishability of assisting or convincing someone to commit suicide, urged parliament to take up the matter with democratic debate and clear legislation to fill the legal void so the judiciary would not be left to regulate.

But Parliament has not succeeded in coming up with legislation, so requests for assistance in dying and suspected cases of assisting a suicide still are being handled by the courts. Right-to-die activists succeeded in gathering more than 1 million signatures for a referendum supporting the repeal of an article criminalizing active euthanasia, but the Constitutional Court blocked it in 2022, saying it would violate constitutional protections of human life.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, chancellor of the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and Family, greets Pope Francis Oct. 24, 2022, during an audience with staff and students of the institute in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall.

In such a context, Archbishop Paglia had said, “it is not to be ruled out that a legal mediation is feasible in our society that would allow assisted dying under the conditions specified by Constitutional Court sentence 242/2019: the person must be being ‘kept alive by life-support treatment and suffering from an irreversible pathology, the source of physical or psychological suffering that he or she considers intolerable, but fully capable of making free and conscious decisions.’”

“Personally,” the archbishop told his audience, “I would not assist with a suicide, but I understand that legal mediation may be the greatest common good concretely possible under the conditions in which we find ourselves.”

The academy’s statement April 24 noted that the Italian Constitutional Court ruling referenced by the archbishop held that “assisting a suicide is a crime. It then enumerated four specific and particular conditions in which the crime carries no penalty.”

“In this precise and specific context, Archbishop Paglia explained that in his view a ‘legislative initiative’ — certainly not a moral one — could be possible which would be consistent with the decision, and which preserves both the criminality of the act and the conditions in which the crime carries no penalty, as the court requested Parliament to legislate.”

“For Archbishop Paglia, it is important that the decision holds that the criminality of the act remains and is not overruled,” his office said. “On the scientific and cultural level, Archbishop Paglia has always supported the need for accompaniment of the sick in the final phase of life, using palliative care and loving personal attention, to ensure that no one is left to face alone the illness and suffering, and difficult decisions, that the end of life brings.”

Complete Article HERE!

Top Expert Resigns From Vatican Committee Against Child Sex Abuse

Father Hans Zollner, the Vatican’s Chair of the Steering Committee of the Centre for the Protection of Minors, looks on as he attends a news conference at the Pontificial Gregorian University in Rome February 5 , 2013. Father Zollner and Father Robert Oliver were presenting the publication of the acts of a major symposium in Rome in 2012 on how the Roman Catholic Church can better protect children from sexual abuse by members of the clergy.

By Reuters

Father Hans Zollner, one of the leading members of the Vatican committee against child sexual abuse, said on Wednesday he had resigned from the group, citing concerns over the way it was operating.

Zollner was one of the founding members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which Pope Francis established in 2014 as part of efforts against the decades-old scandal of paedophilia within the Roman Catholic Church.

His abrupt departure represents a sharp blow to its image and comes after several members resigned early on, complaining the commission had no real power and met with internal resistance.

“Over the last years, I have grown increasingly concerned with how the commission, in my perception, has gone about achieving (the goal of protecting children and vulnerable persons)”, the Jesuit priest said in a statement.

Zollner said his resignation was effective March 14. He added that he could not live with problems “particularly in the areas of responsibility, compliance, accountability and transparency”.

Manufacturing the Clerical Predator


The Catholic Church has overseen the world’s longest-lasting and most widespread campaign of institutional sexual abuse. Why is it that after sixteen centuries of documented evidence and decades of continuous international public exposure, new revelations of the scope and magnitude of the crisis continue to shock the public?

Manufacturing the Clerical Predator goes beyond the usual clichéd and tediously-repeated popular explanations offered for the abuse crisis by exploring the personal narrative and theoretical accounts of three Wisconsin former seminarians and priests detailing the transmission of the culture of clerical abuse across three generations. It supplies a fresh, unique, and urgently-needed approach to the question that has yet to be answered about sexual abuse and cover-up in the Church: Why?

Reform and social justice

— 10 years of Pope Francis

Pope Francis reacts as he leaves at the end of a weekly general audience at St. Peter’s square in The Vatican.

During his decade as head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has reformed the government of the Vatican, worked for peace and reconciliation, and has taken action against clerical child abuse.

by Clément Melki

During his decade as head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has reformed the government of the Vatican, worked for peace and reconciliation, and has taken action against clerical child abuse.

Here are some of the 86-year-old’s main achievements ahead of the 10-year anniversary of his election on Monday.


From decentralising power, increasing transparency and providing greater roles for lay people and women, Francis has implemented fundamental reforms of the Roman Curia, the central government of the Holy See.

Despite internal opposition, the reforms were enshrined in a new constitution that came into force in 2022, reorganising the dicasteries (ministries) and putting at the heart of their mission the goal of spreading God’s message.

Francis particularly took aim at the murky, scandal-tainted finances of the Vatican, creating a special secretariat for the economy in 2014, clamping down on corruption and stepping up scrutiny of investments and the Vatican Bank, which led to the closure of 5,000 accounts.

However, the coronavirus pandemic hit the Vatican’s income, while his efforts were overshadowed by the trial of senior cardinal Angelo Becciu, a former close aide now accused of embezzlement in a scandal over a London property deal.

Battle against sex abuse 

From Ireland to Germany and the United States, dealing with the scandals over child sex abuse by Catholic priests has been one of the biggest challenges for the pope.

Initially, things did not go well, with a 2014 commission on protecting minors undermined by the resignations of two key members, while in 2018, his defence of a Chilean priest accused of covering up abuse sparked a backlash.

In the Chilean case, Pope Francis apologised, admitting “grave mistakes.”

Later that year, he stripped the cardinal’s title from abusive US priest Theodore McCarrick, and in 2019 removed his status as priest.

The pope created a commission on protecting minors that was later integrated into the Curia. And in 2019, he held an unprecedented summit which heard from victims, where he promised an “all-out battle” against clerical abuse.

Concrete changes followed, from opening up Vatican archives to the lay courts to making it compulsory to report suspicions of abuse and any attempts to cover it up to Church authorities.

However, anything said in the confessional box remains sacrosanct.

Diplomacy, Ukraine

During 40 visits overseas, the Argentine pontiff has given priority to smaller countries in eastern Europe and Africa.

A pacifist who routinely denounces the arms trade and defends the multilateral international order, Francis has also advocated dialogue with all faiths, especially Islam, notably in a trip to Iraq in 2021.

It was under his watch that the Vatican agreed in 2018 a historic but also controversial deal with the communist government in Beijing, on the appointment of bishops in China.

Diplomatic successes include mediating the rapprochement between the United States and Cuba in 2014.

However, the pope’s repeated calls for peace in Ukraine have so far come to nothing, while the conflict has undermined his efforts to improve ties with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Francis met with Russian Patriarch Kirill in 2016, the first such meeting since the schism in the Christian church in 1054, but their relationship has soured over Kirill’s strong support for Moscow.

He has, however, not travelled to his homeland of Argentina for a visit.

Social justice

The Jesuit pontiff has been a vocal campaigner for the environment and has repeatedly railed against capitalism and inequality.

With his groundbreaking 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, he urged the world to act quickly to tackle climate change, saying rich countries bear the most responsibility.

The son of Italian immigrants to Argentina, Francis has also criticised what he sees as global indifference to the plight of refugees, paying an early visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa, the landing point for thousands of migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

Complete Article HERE!

The Pope’s African pilgrimage

— Does the continent represent the future of Catholicism?


As milestones go, the recent sight of three leading men of God together in Africa was quite something — a rare chance for Christian leaders to spread the word and challenge rivals for hearts and minds.

Pope Francis and the Vatican media machine might have led the way, but alongside him went Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields. They shared the Papal plane on the way home with the kind of bonhomie and mutual understanding that highlights the importance of Africa in the contest to be the world’s leading faith.

There they were, the three of them, in the war zone of South Sudan, the Christian stronghold that broke away from the Muslim north amid terrible conflict. Today that newest of countries represents a small but symbolically important piece of the continent’s religious jigsaw that will see Christianity grow by more than 40 per cent, the hierarchy believes, by 2050, and so ensure their faith will continue to stay just ahead of Islam in global per centages.

Some walked for days just to see and hear him

Ahead of that historic appearance of a Christian triumvirate, Pope Francis had spent days in Congo, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country, home to more than 100 million, half of them Catholic, and the crucible of a conflict that has claimed more than five million lives, displacing millions more. It was a grim sign of the continuing murder and mayhem that the Pope had to cancel a trip to Eastern Congo, the epicentre of the war, because of fighting near the regional capital of Goma.

At his main mass in the capital, Kinshasa, more than a million Catholics joined him, some having walked for days just to see and hear him. Everywhere he went, thousands lined the streets and overpasses to glimpse the man many Congolese call simply “Our Father.” Francis, deeply moved, found the voice that has eluded him in recent times.

“This country, so immense and full of life, this diaphragm of Africa, struck by such violence like a blow to the stomach, has seemed for some time to be gasping for breath,” he told followers, clearly energised by the sight of so many worshippers. “But you are a diamond, believe in yourselves, and your future.”

The numbers do tell. According to the Vatican’s news agency, Africa accounts for 265 million members of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics — 20 per cent, and growing fast. The Anglican church is smaller but with significant followers in those countries with a footprint of the British empire: Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa (think the late Desmond Tutu)

“Africa offers Christianity such opportunity, born out of tragedy and suffering maybe, but such potential,” to quote one of the Pope’s advisers, noting that the Pontiff insisted on making the trip despite poor health of late and being now wheelchair-bound. “Francis, better than anyone, knows where we have lost ground, and where we need to work.”

It is ironic to consider it but, yes, the Argentinian Pope does indeed know where Catholicism has seen the faithful flee elsewhere. In Latin America, once the vanguard of his own Jesuit mission and home to the largest Catholic country on the planet, Brazil, Church leaders acknowledge that tens of millions have been lost to rivals, especially the Evangelical and Pentecostal faiths.

Even in the Pope’s beloved Argentina, you can see the exodus and not just in the major cities, Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Rosario. In the foothills of the Andes, in conservative, rural Mendoza, the Catholic church is often half-empty. In contrast the Evangelical arena, often a large, multi-purpose room on the main street, or a schoolroom not used on the weekends, can be packed to overflowing — with the devout outside in sizable numbers.

“Ours is Christianity that speaks to people’s needs, and people’s lives,” says Evangelical minister Jose Hernandez in Mendoza, pinpointing how Rome’s hard line on “social issues” (code for contraception, abortion, and the role of women in the Church) especially during the long years of the Polish Pope, John Paul the Second, opened the floodgates. “Ordinary people have flocked to us.”

The religious battle for Africa has been joined

Fascinatingly, the attempts of Pope Francis to soften the conservative line of his predecessors — taking for example such a relaxed view of homosexuality (“who am I to judge?” he says, “they are children of God too”) — has produced blowback, the likes of which Christianity may not have seen before. Such appeasement seems to have come too late for his Church in Latin America — and in Africa, his open voice on gay life is the seed of clear dispute between his Vatican and some fiercely traditional Bishops, let alone communities, on the ground in the likes of Congo and South Sudan.

“The Pope can have his view on homosexuality, and we have ours,” said one Catholic Bishop in attendance as the Pope celebrated that mega-mass in Kinshasa. “It is a sin.” Justin Welby and the Anglican church heard likewise in South Sudan from their flock. “Better to have two wives than to be gay or lesbian,” according to one Protestant Archbishop there.

The religious battle for Africa has been joined, and Christianity, losing out elsewhere in the Global South, sees the continent as the go-to arena tomorrow. So much so that inside the Vatican — where I was once a young correspondent back in the day when they dared to elect a Pole as Pope — they say the next Pontiff could well be an African.

Complete Article HERE!