Vatican Defends Philosopher Who Once Supported Limited Abortion

Oxford University professor of theology Nigel Biggar. Screenshot from

The Catholic Church remains opposed to abortion despite the controversial appointment of a British philosopher to the Vatican’s top ethics board who may have supported the limited use of abortion.

That’s according to Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, in defending the appointment of Nigel Biggar, an Oxford University professor of theology. Biggar came under criticism over his apparent support for abortion up to 18 weeks into pregnancy.

In a statement, Paglia wrote: “Our NO to abortion is a total NO.”

Biggar is one of 45 members appointed by Pope Francis to the academy last week.

The Catholic Herald, a British newspaper, reported on an exchange that reportedly took place in 2011 between Biggar and the noted philosopher Peter Singer of Princeton University.

According to the Catholic Herald, during that exchange, Biggar said: “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.

“In terms of maintaining a strong social commitment to preserving human life in hindered forms, and in terms of not becoming too casual about killing human life, we need to draw the line much more conservatively.”

Paglia said Biggar’s appointment for the Vatican position had been recommended by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and Paglia stressed that he was unaware of the 2011 conversation between the two philosophers.

“But I want to repeat that Professor Biggar has never published anything on the subject of abortion,” Paglia said.

The archbishop stressed that the church opposed every type of abortion.

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Source: Religion News Service