VATICAN CITY (RNS) — Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, who heads the Vatican‘s think tank on life issues, arrived in New York Monday (March 28) hoping to disarm Americans’ well-defended positions on the topic by talking about what it means to be pro-life in the Catholic Church today.
“Sometimes, in the United States, but not only there, the pro-life perspective has been narrowed in an ideological way, which addresses aspects of life that are certainly important, but can’t be disconnected from everything else,” Paglia, who heads the Pontifical Academy for Life, told Religion News Service in a phone interview Friday (March 25).
Pro-life issues, and specifically abortion, have been among the most divisive battlegrounds in the United States, with both sides of the debate seemingly entrenched in a battle, from courts to elections to dinner tables.
But according to Paglia, America’s robust debate is exactly why it is important for him to visit the “very delicate and sometimes polarized laboratory” that is the United States.
Paglia will meet with Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and travel to Washington to visit Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican representative to the United States, and Cardinal Wilton Gregory before returning to Rome April 1.
The archbishop will also meet with the Catholic lay movement of St. Egidio, which has focused on helping migrants and refugees, to build on his efforts to provide aid to beleaguered countries in South American and Caribbean countries. He will speak to representatives of SOMOS, a network of 2,500 physicians from the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan, to provide health care for Medicaid recipients.
In Washington, Paglia will sit down with IBM representatives to discuss the ethics of AI, following up on the academy’s 2020 “Call for AI Ethics” in partnership with Microsoft, FAO and pioneering tech companies.
He hopes that a dialogue in the United States will help to “get rid of the debris that prevent us from seeing eye to eye, or better yet to develop and promote dialogue and not just accusations,” said the archbishop.
“I am convinced this can happen, and I don’t think this will be my last trip to the United States. It’s certainly part of a series of meetings I will organize for the near future,” he added.