Pope Francis has appointed 45 new members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, having eliminated all of the Academy’s members earlier this year.

Pope Francis has revised the statutes of the Pontifical Academy for Life and encouraged a new approach that gives less direct attention to the “culture of life” issues that has previously been the focus of the Academy. Because there had been no expiration date for the terms of members, the Pontiff chose to end all memberships and re-appoint some members to a new roster.

The most outspoken members of the Pontifical Academy were missing from the list of appointments announced by the Vatican on June 13. At least one new member—Nigel Biggar, an Oxford theologian—has suggested that abortion should be legal during the first 18 weeks of pregnancy.

Pope Francis also appointed five prominent officials of the old Pontifical Academy—including Cardinal Elio Sgreccia and Dr. Juan de Dios Vial Correa, former presidents of the body—to be “honorary members.”

The Pontifical Academy for Life had been forced to postpone its annual assembly earlier this year because of the lack of members. The assembly will now be held in October. The topic for the meeting has also been changed: from a discussion of Donum Vitae, the Vatican’s statement on artificial reproduction, to a broader forum on “new responsibilities in the technological era.”

Full story at Catholic Culture.

“It’s not clear that a human foetus is the same kind of thing as an adult”

University of Oxford Professor Nigel Biggar, who was appointed to the Pontifical Academy for Life for a five-year term, stated in a 2011 dialogue with pro-infanticide ethicist Peter Singer that a preborn baby is “not…the same kind of thing as an adult or a mature human being” and therefore does not deserve “quite the same treatment.”

“I would be inclined to draw the line for abortion at 18 weeks after conception, which is roughly about the earliest time when there is some evidence of brain activity, and therefore of consciousness,” he said as reported by Standpoint magazine.

Then, one year later, when he was the keynote speaker for an event at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, he said that “it is not true that all abortion is equivalent to murder.”

When LifeSiteNews asked Biggar if his appointment to the Academy indicated that the Church under Francis is shifting gears on abortion, he said that as someone who is not Roman Catholic, he did not think it appropriate to comment on the Church’s position.

“I am very sorry to disappoint you, but the issue of abortion is one on which I have views, but it is not one that I have thought about for a very long time,” he said.

Pope Francis began his overhaul of the Academy last year by creating new statutes, that among other things, no longer required that members sign a declaration to uphold the Church’s pro-life teachings. The Pope’s next move was to then remove all of the academy members while promising to make new appointments himself.

Full story at LifeSiteNews.