UPDATED: Head of Pontifical Academy for Life favors legalizing assisted suicide

UPDATE 25 April:

As one of my correspondent’s wrote:

I’ve seen it all: Paglia tweets the link to a Church Militant report DEFENDING his indefensible statements and “clarifications”

I don’t know which is weirder…

  • The head of the Pont. Acad. for Life defending approval of assisted suicide
  • Paglia citing Church Militant in defense of assisted suicide
  • Church Militant defending Paglia’s position about assisted suicide.

___  Originally Published on: Apr 23, 2023 at 09:52

One figure in the high Vatican circles has been particularly controversial: Archbp. Vicenzo Paglia.

As Bishop of Terni he had installed in the apse of the cathedral a homoerotic fresco in which he is identifiable, wearing a zucchetto.  As head of the Lateran he has dismantled the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family. HERE As President of the Pontifical Academy for Life he has involved various population control figures in events.  HERE He suggested that the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception will change.  HERE

He has now weighed in about a move in Italy to legalize assisted suicide.  He FAVORS IT.

In 2019 he said he would hold the hand of a person committing suicide.  HERE

I’m not making this up.  In an interview with Il Riformista Paglia openly contradicted the Magisterium and the pronouncements of the Italian Bishops Conference, and said that the Church does not possess the truth on these issues.

From La Nuova Bussola with the text of Il Riformista:

“In this context, it cannot be excluded that in our society a legal mediation is feasible which allows assisted suicide in the conditions specified by the Constitutional Court’s Judgment 242/2019: the person must be ‘kept alive by life support treatments and affected by an irreversible pathology, a source of physical and psychological suffering that she considers intolerable, but fully capable of making free and informed decisions’. […] Personally I would not practice assisted suicide, but I understand that legal mediation can constitute the greatest common good concretely possible in the conditions in which we live”.

What is this?

To my mind it is a step along the lines of creeping incrementalism that began with Amoris laetitia and the infamous footnote that lead to the notion that Communion should be given to people in adulterous unions.  Moreover, there is proposal that the death penalty cannot be applied in any situation, which clearly contradicts the Church’s teaching and God’s divine law in the Old Covenant (hence, it cannot intrinsically evil).  There are all many of signals, hints, winks and silences on a raft of moral issues.  Take, for example, giving awards to abortionists or favorable audience and positions to homosexualist activists.  The “leaders” of the Church seem to think that it is too difficult for us to deal with our own moral questions – whether from divine or natural law.  Therefore, let the state control us (as in the case of civil divorce and civil remarriage followed by reception of Communion).

In the Cathedral of Terni:

Bishop with the zucchetto… Paglia.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Dad of Six says:

    “For every tree is known by its fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns; nor from a bramble bush do they gather the grape.”

    With the current bunch in Rome it’s always ‘watch what they do and not listen to what they say.’

  2. maternalView says:

    These people are downright ugly and even their art reflects that. Putting aside the homoerotic aspect it’s just a dreary, ugly painting. It’s not beautiful, aspirational or inspirational. They just can’t do beautiful.

    Catholic art depicting such horrific events as the crucifixion are moving and awe-inspiring. This I suppose is the Ascension? It should be uplifting and hopeful. This one just looks dead & straight out of a horror movie.

  3. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    “A talentless hack shamelessly and poorly copies Michelangelo”

    Shoddy, shallow, pathetic painting to go with the shoddy, shallow, and pathetic excuse for an intellectual discourse that these sub-simian halfwits profer to excuse their senseless behavior.

  4. Lurker 59 says:

    It seems to me that those who push for assisted suicide have already committed suicide themselves, having despaired of hope, fallen into acedia, and are well down the path of hating the life of grace, and heading towards (if not already there) hatred of God, His commandments, His holy things, and His gifts of grace, all of which they find to burdensome for themselves (and by transference, the “unwashed masses”) to accomplish.

    We often think that hatred of God should be displayed with great violence and loud blasphemies, but it is often it is rather like a superheated furnace that has sucked up all the oxygen — sitting there in quiet interminable heat.

    We live in a fallen world where people seek to find a way out of the life that they have been given by God…a life that isn’t to their liking, often uncomfortable, filled with suffering, filled with the struggle against concupiscence, the world, the devil. They hate that they have to live according to God’s ways, have the life that they were given, carry their crosses, and be perfect as Our Heavenly Father is.

    The hatred is most clearly seen in how they seek to drag people down, and accompany them into the abyss, instead of seeking to save souls, teaching the Way of Christ, and living a life of penance in reparations for all the big and little ways humanity offends God on a daily basis.

    To be super clear, you can spot these people easily by how they are always focused on human sentimentality, human experience, human suffering etc., and never focus on God’s glory and making that the focus on how one determines which human actions to purse and which to turn away from.

  5. Ave Maria says:

    Infiltration of the Church. May Our Lord cleanse His bride.

  6. david-oneill3 says:

    Surely there is some diabolical force behind some of our Church’s leadership when a bishop – working in the Vatican no less – can publish such diabolical drivel. Is there no-one in authority to remove him not just from the episcopacy but from the priesthood.

  7. aam says:

    Judases everywhere.

  8. Benedict Joseph says:

    Personnel is policy.
    This is the clearest critique which can be applied to the present catastrophe the faithful shoulder, otherwise we are debased by less than eloquent double-speak. At least this “patron of the arts” doesn’t hide behind half truths. He just spills the disorientation of his personal notions out for all to see, shameless and narcissistic as can be.

  9. Irish Timothy says:

    …….’Freemason’ comes to mind when reading all this…….

  10. Gaetano says:

    It looks like Cardinal Paglia ordered a Last Judgment fresco from *Wish.

    *A cheap Chinese knockoff website.

  11. ThePapalCount says:

    The stench of Satan smothers the Vatican City State. You can catch a whiff just by looking towards St Peter’s Dome. There is great evil there. Fr Z you commented last week that you avoid St Peter’s. I don’t blame you. how could you go near there without wanting to later bathe and change your clothes. Rome is a wonderful and amazing city. But, sadly the HQ of Holy Church is infested with rot and clerical rodents.
    I sound too harsh maybe. But, what comes from there is all to often appalling. I pray for the good priests and nuns and layfolk who work faithfully there every day. It has to be a penance. The scandals from Rome are destroying the moral authority of the Church and causing the faithful… the faithful few to opt out.
    A horrific pontificate. Let us all hang in though. Christ is faithful.

  12. donato2 says:

    I’ve known for a long time that Rome under this Pontificate is corrupt to the core. Pope Francis has led the way from the get go, starting when he washed the feet of women at the first Holy Thursday Mass after his election. I knew then we had a bad Pope. The turning point for me though was when on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception the Vatican put up pictures of wild animals on a huge screen in Saint Peter’s. I then knew that there was a deep sickness in this Pontificate. Then came Pachamama, the promotion and endorsements of Fr. James Martin, and countless other signs of apostasy. Now this. Austen Ivereigh, Massimo Faggioli and any other defenders of this Pontificate — do any of you care to defend Archbishop Paglia’s statement concerning assisted suicide and Pope Francis if Pope Francis does not now fire Archbishop Paglia?

  13. IaninEngland says:

    …and the cross-eyed redhead above the Bishop doesn’t help.

  14. BeatifyStickler says:

    Everything is gay.

  15. Johann says:

    Gay porn Paglia should be charged with heresy and laicized. And the Pontifical Academy for (or should I say against) Life should be shut down, because it’s nothing but a sick, sad joke.

  16. JonPatrick says:

    I have pretty much stopped paying attention to the almost daily drivel that proceeds from the Vatican. We also see where basically any schismatic group can have mass at the Pope’s cathedral but faithful traditional Catholics have to go rent a hotel conference room because they are not allowed to use a parish church. Thing are truly upside down in this pontificate.

  17. Notsoserious09 says:

    Fake pope, fake cardinals, and fake bishops. I don’t see how any of them can have any fear of God and his justice. My diocese has hired (so it seems) the same consultant as all the other dioceses to restructure its dying parishes into “pastorates” using whatever catch phrase the consultants dream up for the bishop. Ours is “Coming together in Jesus “ or something. Sioux Falls is “Blast off with Jesus,” or something. Hardy, grace-filled souls seem to survive but most of the rest smell the cow pie they’ve stepped in and leave. My children among them. Lord have mercy.

  18. RBill says:

    Irony is lost on the chief clown in the circus. Citing the magisterial change on the death penalty to justify a support for euthanasia. So much for continuity of thought and logic.

  19. Fuerza says:

    It kind of feels like News out of the Vatican recently is being written by the Babylon Bee.

  20. Benedict Joseph says:

    Atheism in a cassock.

  21. jaykay says:

    Lurker 59: an excellent insight as to where all this is coming from.

  22. surritter says:

    donato2 — I was very suspicious right from the start: as soon as everyone started swooning that “he’s so humble.” Something was weird about that.

  23. Veredictum says:

    There is no question we have a “pope” intent on destroying doctrine. Anyone who reads Fr Z’s blog will be fully aware of the list of heresies, no need to repeat.

    What I (genuinely) cannot understand is the promise of Matt 16:18-19 – the rock and the gates of hell will not prevail. Have we (or most) Catholics totally misunderstood that promise i.e. of Infallibility of Magisterium? Yes history shows bad popes, but AFAIK (not much admittedly) most of those were personal sins – fornication, corruption, nepotism, etc. Each individual will answer at Judgement, but the doctrines remained unchanged. But what Bergoglio is doing is deliberate, and calculated (1) undermining of doctrine – all the “encyclicals” unworthy of toilet paper, so many comments and statements that, while not being formal, get reported, and the laity get confused. (2) Deliberately and consistently sacking orthodox bishops & cardinals, and promoting heretics. No pope, nor president, works alone – like the Biden Administration, a whole cabal of termites must be put in place, so that the rot is simultaneous in all agencies. So these actions of Bergoglio go way beyond “personal sin” but planned demolition a jihadist would love. So back to Matt 16:18-19. Since Jesus does not lie, then either I (and most I think) misunderstand it’s meaning, or else Bergoglio is not pope and thus everything is invalid anyway.
    But that leads to – a good pope will burn all the trash. But Bergoglio has stacked the College of Cardinals with liberals, so guaranteed “Francis II”. Is Francis II, III, IV God’s Will, our punishment similar to Israel’s slavery in Egypt? Or else, some disaster is coming, something that will wipe out the heretics, till only the good ones are left. War? Plague? Maybe a much more lethal virus, and somehow only incense protects the priest, so only the TLM priests survive. Mysteriously.

  24. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Veredictum,

    The Church will prevail, but not necessarily all of the people in the Church. It has been a constant in history that liberalism of the sort that leads to decadence only flourishes among the rich. The poor are too busy trying to survive to be caught up in the latest fad.

    Eventually, when a society becomes too full of itself, it retreats into a type of effeminate behavior and becomes ripe for conquest. We saw this with imperial Rome, for example, in the last days of the empire.

    Many in the Church have absorbed the liberalism of the rich societies surround them and have succumbed to the decay of their moral standards. This has been going on for about 100 years, at least in its nascent form, although an argument could be made for it starting with the Industrial Revolution.

    There are pockets in the Church that are, for the time being, flourishing, however. These are found, primarily, in the South Asian and African regions. What do they have in common? Poverty. Jesus said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man or country to enter Heaven.

    A time will come, I suspect, when the Church as a whole will be humbled back into poverty, either by natural or man-made calamity. Politics will not lead us to the Promised Land. In the end, it is plain old humility with its handmaiden, lady poverty, that will set us right with God. Too many people, today, suffer from what I call, The Fallacy of the Pharisees, whereby material prosperity is equated with God’s favor. In reality, unless one is detached from material prosperity, so that whether one is rich or poor doesn’t really matter to the person, only that God’s will is done, being attached to the idea of being rich, as most political structures are, loses God favor as the hearts becomes, at first, divided, and at last distant from God.

    We may, indeed, have a string of liberal popes, in the future, but God will see to it that they don’t do any real harm. The Church is led by a man, after all, who rose from the dead. If the Church is the mystical body of Christ (and it is), then all attempts to put it in the grave are as doomed as it was to condemn its head to the same fate. Have no worries, the Church and Christ will alway rise.

    The Chicken

  25. TonyO says:

    To be fair: It appears that a spokesman for the PAL has come out saying that Paglia’s actual words and message have been mis-reported: that what he said and intended is NOT support for assisted suicide, rather the reverse, he was condemning the mentality behind assisted suicide.

    To be fair again: to my mind, the spokesman’s assertions in explanation are very thin soup for defending Paglia: he makes out the critical comment by Paglia to be that, in effect, it is reasonable in our pluralistic society, to push for laws that LIMIT the evils of assisted suicide, by allowing them only when certain stringent criteria are met, thus protecting terminally ill sufferers from the invasive decisions made by their handlers “for” them to die.

    This would be a more believable track, if there was already a clear legal pathway for assisted suicide, and Paglia’s argument was to restrain them. But that’s not really what’s at play: In Italy, assisted suicide was illegal, their Supreme Court invalidated the law which meant such law could not be enforced, and (as a result) there is some ambiguity as to what is legal, or should be made legal.

    This is NOT the same thing as in our abortion situation in the US: for decades, state and federal laws made abortions legal: a Catholic legislator’s attempt to introduce a law that reduced the number of abortions that were (otherwise) considered legal was CLEARLY a move to minimize abortions, not to improve its use.

    Furthermore, most assisted suicide laws severely crimp a doctor from being a conscientious objector and refusing to assist, including by not referring the patient to another doctor (as that, too, constitutes cooperation with evil). This is one of the most insidious aspects to any nationwide assisted suicide “right”, the way it undermines the morals of the whole profession of doctors. Unless the law proposed expressly and irreversibly protects every doctor from becoming a participant (even if indirectly) with assisted suicide, it is a bad law from this angle even apart from its other defects.

  26. Benedict Joseph says:

    “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
    Matthew 10:16

  27. JPaulZ says:

    Horrible! The fresco is tasteless garbage. Interesting though, I do not see any halos, round or square. Why is that? Does this depict Christ carrying these souls to Heaven, or preparing to cast the fishnets into the eternal abyss? As for the Bishop with the zucchetto, his actions in life may give a hint to the answer.
    Pray for anyone who has anything to do with this excrement, or who sets eyes on it.

  28. Imrahil says:

    Dear Veredictum,

    that‘s why it‘s „trust“ in our Lord‘s promise, because we may not know how it‘s possible to be fulfilled. Abraham did not know how he could have a host of descendants through Isaac when he raised the knife to slaughter him.

    That being said, two things are certain: We may (or may not) have worst Pope in history, but he is the Pope; also, he has not done anything God has promised Popes would never under no circumstances without any exception do. He simply has not.

    If we think more is promised than is actually promised, it is not God‘s fault. It is not even Pope Francis‘s fault.

  29. JustaSinner says:

    Church Militant starts showing their true colors. A click baity, cheat shotting organization…

  30. Lurker 59 says:


    Yes and no or no and yes.

    At the average Catholic level, even good pious Catholics, I tend to see three dominant misunderstandings.
    1.) Thinking that the Office of the Papacy somehow conveys impeccability.
    2.) Thinking that the Office of the Papacy somehow conveys inerrancy.
    3.) Thinking that somehow the Office of the Papacy can be checked by or is governed by legal definitions (ecumenical (council) or canonical or constitutional or otherwise).

    At the theological level, we can assume that there is misunderstanding as, in practice, there are two glaring issues:
    1.) Bishops are treated and treat themselves as flunkies of the Pope instead of heirs of the Apostles.
    2.) Obedience to the Pope is treated as blind obedience (influence of s.j.’s here) rather than obedience predicated upon mutual charity and adherence of the superior towards the truth.

    None of this is to suggest that either there is no such thing as a Pope or that Francis isn’t Pope. The existence of the Papacy is a matter of historical record and we believe this historical record because we have faith in Christ, that he did so establish and that scripture, tradition, and the liturgy are true records of the establishment and functioning of the Office. We also take it as a matter of the historical record that Francis is the current pope.

    So when it comes to Matt 16:18-19, there are two issues:
    1.) Cleracialsm that reduces the Church to the magisterium. ie everything may fall except the magisterium. The Church is the totality of God’s Chosen People baptized in Christ, not just the Church Militant, not just the magisterium.
    2.) Seeing this passage strictly defensively. It can be read offensively, “The Church will prevail over the gates of hell” that is to say that the Church will conquer the stronghold of the devil. This allows the passage to be read mystalogically at the personal level. The Church via the sacraments and the life of grace allows Christ in the individual’s soul to conquer the world, the flesh, and the devil.


    There are a lot of good truths in the dogma and doctrine surrounding the reality of the Papacy, but there is a ton of development that can and should be done. That is what VI and VII are really about. VI is incomplete in its understanding, VII didn’t help things.

    There are in practice also the largest misunderstandings.
    1.) Thinking that one doesn’t have to pay attention to what their local priest and bishop are up to so long as one is following the Pope (because he is super protected by the Holy Spirit or something).
    2.) Thinking that one follows the Magisterium in some sort of quietest sort of way without really taking ownership of their faith and living it at the individual level. The Gates of Hell… doesn’t apply to the individual unless the individual is in a state of grace and actively living the life of grace. One is saved by “actively participating” not just by one’s membership (baptism).

  31. His statement of “ I wouldn’t practice it, but… “ sounds like a cop out, and outright denial of Church teaching, that would leave it open for souls to be led astray. Pray for the unfaithful shepherds, is my two cents.

  32. JonPatrick says:

    @justasinner while I don’t agree with everything Church Militant puts out (eg their position on SSPX), I think in this case in the interest of fairness they are just reporting the PAL walking back the Archbishop’s statement. I find it hard to believe CM would be in favor of assisted suicide, they have always taken orthodox positions on issues otherwise.

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