2013-02-21 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) “The Pontifical Academy for Life is a scientific research institution for the Holy See and for Catholic institutions”, says Fr. Scott Borgman, the coordinating secretary for the Academy.
On the eve of its 19th General Assembly on “Faith and Human Life”, he dropped by Vatican Radio to tell Emer McCarthy about the issues on the agenda for participants over the next three days and the challenges that lie ahead. Listen:
The first myth he debunked is that the Academy is populated by priests and Vatican officials, stressing the scientific and academic expertise that it enlists to study the hot topic issues of today, such as the right to life, the issue of gender and defence of marriage and the family, to name a few.
“We actually have very few priests or clergy as members. These are mostly lay people who are active and working in different hospitals and organisms throughout the world. So as we come together each year we have about 120 members who fly in to Rome to look at the main topic for the year”.
This year in the context of Faith and Human Life, he revealed that participants will be focusing on what the Church and Sacred Scripture teach us about the origins of life within the family founded on marriage between a man and a women:
“For example the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, His Excellency Müller will be speaking about Human Life in the Magisterium. These are the principals at the very core of bio-medical issues, that is the respect of every human life as a person and the other one would be the authentic context of the origin of human life in marriage and the family which is a topic that has been quite discussed in recent days”.
But he adds, they will also explore the topic from a scientific point of view:
“There will also be Dr. Richard Doerflinger, who will be discussing how faith and science can defend human life in the 21st century. He will be talking about science and religion as progressing together in the rise and development of modern science and society”.
Fr. Borgman points out that the Academy is a space for exploration and reflection on these issues of immense importance in today’s world and a tool for not only the Vatican but also local Churches.
“We receive requests from the Holy See, from some bishops and local Catholic institutions to study the issues that will be the hot topics in the next three four years. I’m thinking for example last year we studied the problem of infertility. Another thing that we studied last year is umbilical cords. There’s this freezing of umbilical cords thinking that some day down the line we may be to use those for the benefit of the individual and after extensive studies on this issue it would seem that freezing is not an exact science. I’m not an expert in any of these areas, I am just repeating what I have heard, but it would seem that the possibility of using those umbilical cords immediately for someone who needed them would be much higher. So the idea would not to be turned in on ourselves, to use them for ourselves but to make them available for science”.