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Former head of Pontifical Academy for Life dies aged 90

Cardinal Elio Sgreccia (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Sgreccia wrote numerous publications on the family, pastoral care, and medical ethics

Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has died at the age of 90.

A press release from the Academy for Life says “Since the establishment of the Pontifical Academy on February 11 1994, Cardinal Sgreccia has been the protagonist and courageous, wise heart of our institution, supporting and promoting the study, promotion and protection of human life amidst many challenges posed by recent progress in technology and medicine.”

Born on 6 June 1928, Sgreccia was born in Nidastore di Arcevia, Italy and was ordained to the priesthood on 29 June 1952. He was first assigned to serve as a chaplain to Catholic Action youth groups and as vice-rector of his seminary.

He became the Chaplain to the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in 1974 and went on to become a tenured professor of Bioethics in 1990.

Sgreccia wrote numerous publications on the family, pastoral care, and medical ethics, and later founded and directed Medicina e Morale, a journal on bioethics.

He directed the Institute of Bioethics from 1992-2000 and in 1994 was appointed vice-president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Sgreccia became president in 2005, serving until 2008.

He was appointed a bishop in 1992 by Pope John Paul II and created a Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

Most recently he was appointed by Pope Francis as a participant in the 2014 Synod of Bishops on The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization and in the 2015 Synod on The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World.

After being admitted for treatment at the Policlinico Gemelli Hospital, he chose to return to his Rome residence where he died at 12:15pm Rome time.

Cardinal Sgreccia’s niece, Professor Palma Sgreccia, said he was “a man of faith, characterized by a great temperance in lifestyle, who always tried to promote the good of all. He was guided by the light of faith and the strength of reason in his every choice and decision.”