Archbishop Rino Fisichella, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV), has again been praised and defended by a pro-abortion commentator for his controversial article in which he appeared to condone the abortion of twins of a nine-year-old Brazilian rape victim, reports Hilary White, Rome correspondent, LifeSiteNews.com.
In an op-ed in Sunday’s edition of Il Giornale, one of Italy’s leading national newspapers, Alessandro Meluzzi, a psychiatrist and popular media personality, has come to the defense of Fisichella on the grounds that his March 15, 2009 article had clearly defended the principle that abortion should be allowable in hard cases.
Meluzzi denounced the five PAV members who, following the academy’s plenary meeting earlier this year, signed a statement calling for Fisichella’s removal. Meluzzi called their demand “hypercritical” and labeled the five members holders of a “nominalistic, rationalistic dogmatism,” while he extolled Fisichella’s contribution to the abortion movement’s doctrine that women must be allowed to have abortions in order to save them from “death or suicide.”
Meluzzi wrote, “Wanting to inflict a pregnancy from incest on a child of eleven years [sic], at the risk of death or suicide, is an intolerable burden that not only seems to lose sight of mercy, but also of the centrality of the incarnate Truth, the essential good news of the Gospel, in which the ‘Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath’.”
Meluzzi is a popular media personality in Italy, an author, television host and commentator, who holds a Bachelor in Philosophy and Spirituality from the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm in Rome. He is known to have “reinvented” himself many times, starting in his youth as a member of the Italian Communist Youth Federation, before moderating his views to socialism. A convert to Catholicism, he has over the years been a well-known environmentalist, Freemason, New Age guru, Parliamentary deputy and senator and psychiatrist, who is invited regularly to speak on hundreds of television programs.
In his March 2009 article, Fisichella asserted, against eyewitness accounts from Brazil, that the abortion was necessary to save the girl’s life. Meluzzi defended this assertion as a clear justification for abortion.
“There is not only a Pharisaism in the critics of Mons. Fisichella, but something even more grave. They negate, in the name of an abstract idea, the concrete discernment which is due to the doctors on the choice of a life to save,” he wrote.
The Church’s teaching, that doctors may not intentionally kill one person in order to save the life of another, he called a “tragic logic,” that was heroically accepted “even by great saints like Gianna Beretta Molla.” But this, he said, is an ideal that cannot be imposed on mothers or doctors by edict.
Comparing the issue of abortion with palliative care, Meluzzi said that in such difficult cases, “no law, not even any scientific or theological academy can codify and establish [the boundaries] dogmatically.”
This defense of Archbishop Fisichella’s article from an Italian “pro-choice Catholic” echoes that issued shortly after its publication from Frances Kissling, the former head of the abortion lobby group Catholics for a Free Choice.
On March 23, 2009, Kissling praised Fisichella’s article for saying that in the case of the Recife abortion and the public excommunication of the abortionists by the local archbishop, “the Church should have been pastoral, not punitive.”
She called the article an “amazing shift in the Vatican’s strategy of no dissent” from the Church’s pro-life doctrine.
The recent statement signed by the five senior members of the PAV, says that Fisichella’s insistence that the doctors in the Recife case were justified in carrying out the abortion, and that a later clarification by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith had justified this assertion, has resulted in a profound loss of confidence in the leadership of the Academy.
In his article, Fisichella wrote, “Due to her very young age and her precarious health conditions, her life was in serious danger because of the pregnancy under way. How to act in these cases? It is a tough decision for the doctor and for the moral law itself.
“Choices like this one … are repeated daily in intensive care units, and the conscience of the doctor finds itself all alone in the act of having to decide what might be the better thing to do. Yet no one arrives at a decision of this kind nonchalantly. It is unjust and offensive even to think so.”
The statement by the PAV members said that the “clear implication of the wording” is that “there are difficult situations in which doctors enjoy scope for the autonomous exercise of conscience in deciding whether to carry out a direct abortion.”
This, the members said, has caused Academicians to believe that “we are being led by an ecclesiastic who does not understand what absolute respect for innocent human lives entails.”