Since Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia was named President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, it seems to have become impossible for the Academy to shed light on any particular threat to life in our world. One need look no further to establish the Academy’s vacuity than its amorphous, secularized observations on the Coronavirus back in July (Humana Communitas in the Age of Pandemic: Untimely Meditations on Life’s Rebirth). Now, in an interview with Crux, Archbishop Paglia has further poisoned the teeming pool of life by arguing, in effect, that the politicization of life issues must always be avoided as seriously harmful.

The interview was deliberately framed partly against the backdrop of the American Presidential campaign, so it is fair to read Paglia’s comments in that context. In truth, though, his comments are extremely disorienting in any context at all. In fact, Paglia essentially resorts to the “seamless garment” tactic, which takes the truth that all problems adversely affecting the human person are issues of “human life”, and then emphasizes that very marginal insight to the point where it becomes immoral to prioritize these issues. Thus is our moral energy dissipated, preventing us from producing any positive effect at all.

Seamless Garment

While Paglia does not use the term “seamless garment”, he clearly articulates that ineffective theme. To quote the Crux story:

[Paglia] said Christian churches in the U.S. ought to feel “a universal responsibility” toward life, and called for greater engagement on the life issue “in all its dimensions… That is, a perspective of global bioethics, one that engages all the major topics that touch on life, of the individual and of the human family.”

This is a tall order indeed—an order so tall that, in practical terms, it can accomplish absolutely nothing beyond a pallid approval of whatever the dominant culture is emphasizing as good at the moment. When we are taught that everything demands our attention all of the time, we become inert, taking credit for floating along on the winds of change.

Thus, as recounted with quotations by Crux, Paglia magnanimously warned against:

turning the pro-life cause into an ideological weapon, saying making the protection of life a political football risks doing “great harm”… [and] … “It would do great harm,” he said, “if some topic of bioethics is extracted from its general context and put toward ideological strategies. It would do great harm.”

This can only be interpreted as a dismissal of pro-life political commitment as “ideology”, and it is an enormous misdirection. For what can this warning against “ideological strategies” possibly mean in the context of the need to seek just governance and laws that restrict the scope of evil and promote the common good—which is precisely the purpose of politics?…

The above comes from an Aug. 28 story on CatholicCulture.org