Steven Mosher recently interviewed the president of the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family (JAHLF), Dr. Thomas Ward. The JAHLF was set up seven years ago following the “reinventing” of the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV), originally founded by Pope John Paul II. Dr. Ward himself, along with a number of other outspokenly pro-life members of the PAV, was asked to leave the Academy by the incoming Archbishop Paglia, who has since taken the Academy in, it is fair to say, a very different direction than JPII intended. In 2017, following these dismissals, the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family was founded to serve the same goals as the original Pontifical Academy for Life for the interdisciplinary study and defense of human life in all its stages. They continue their work today, fully faithful to the authentic magisterium and perennial doctrine of the Catholic Church.
Steven Mosher: Dr. Ward, as the President of the JPII Academy for Human Life and Family, how do you and other members of the Academy view the upcoming Synod on Synodality, which will be held in Rome from October 4 to 29?
Dr. Thomas Ward: I and many other members of our Academy are deeply concerned that the Synod on Synodality will be used to affect a radical paradigm shift on Catholic morality on life and the family.
Steven Mosher: That’s a bold claim that will shock many. Can you substantiate it?
Dr. Ward: Yes, I can. Let me quote the words of senior churchmen who are openly working for this radical paradigm shift in Catholic morality, starting with Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, whom Pope Francis appointed to head the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV). In the words of Archbishop Paglia, the role of PAV is
to accept the invitation contained in paragraph 3 of his Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium (the Apostolic Constitution on Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties) for a radical paradigm shift in theological reflection.
… to render a service to the Magisterium by opening up a space for dialogue that makes research possible and encourages it. This is how we see the role of the Academy, which Pope Francis himself also wanted on the front line on delicate issues to be addressed through a transdisciplinary approach. [italics added]
Steven Mosher: So that striking phrase, “radical paradigm shift,” comes from Francis himself.
Dr. Ward: A paradigm is a conceptual framework. Paradigm shifts in science arise when the dominant paradigm is thrown into crisis by new information. The result is that the previous paradigm is replaced by a new conceptual framework or system of beliefs. But bear in mind that in this case the “paradigm” in question is our system of Catholic beliefs.
And, to answer your questions, the phrase comes from paragraph three of Pope Francis’ encyclical Veritatis Gaudium, where he calls for “a broad and generous effort at a radical paradigm shift, or rather – dare I say – at a bold cultural revolution.”
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