ROME — Completing the reorganization of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope Francis named four scholars to serve on the academy’s governing council.
The Vatican announced August 5 the scholars who would comprise the council: Etsuko Akiba, a professor of law in the faculty of economics at the University of Toyama, Japan, and a specialist in Catholic bioethics and bioethics law; Monica Lopez Barahona, general director of Spain’s Biosanitary Studies Center and president of the Spanish delegation of the Jerome Lejeune Foundation; Auxiliary Bishop Alberto German Bochatey of La Plata, Argentina, professor of bioethics and vice chancellor of the Catholic University of La Plata; and Adriano Pessina, professor of moral philosophy and director of the Center for Bioethics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan.
Msgr. Carlos Simon Vazquez, delegate for the Family and Life Section of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, and Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, head of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for the Study of Marriage and Family in Rome, also serve on the council by virtue of their positions.
The academy’s president is Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia.
In early August, the academy posted on its website — academiavita.org — a list of 89 “corresponding members” and 13 “young researchers” chosen to participate in the academy’s work. Among the corresponding members from the United States are: Richard Doerflinger, a recently retired official at the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, superior general of the Sisters of Life; and Vicky Thorn, founder of Project Rachel, which promotes post-abortion reconciliation and healing.
Founded in 1994 by St. John Paul II, the Pontifical Academy for Life is charged with defending and promoting “the value of human life and the dignity of the person.”
Last November, Francis issued new statutes for the pontifical academy to widen the scope of its activity and research on life issues.
The new statutes said the defense of life must include “the care of the dignity of the human person at different stages of life,” as well as “the promotion of a quality of human life that integrates its material and spiritual value with a view to an authentic ‘human ecology’ that helps recover the original balance of creation between the human person and the entire universe.”
In June, the pope appointed 45 new members to the institution, including — for the first time — members of non-Catholic denominations and other faiths.