A philosopher who has previously expressed support for abortion has been appointed by Pope Francis to the Vatican's pro-life academy.
Church Militant reported that Nigel Biggar was one of the 45 new members who were chosen to serve a five-year term on the Pontifical Academy for Life.
Biggar, regius professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology and director of the McDonald Center for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life at the University of Oxford, has previously stated that he believes abortions should be legal up to 18 weeks after conception.
"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," he stated in 2011, according to Life News.
"It's not clear that a human foetus is the same kind of thing as an adult or a mature human being, and therefore deserves quite the same treatment. It then becomes a question of where we draw the line, and there is no absolutely cogent reason for drawing it in one place over another," he added.
Christine Vollmer, a founding member of the pontifical academy and president of the Latin American Alliance for the Family, described the pope's appointment of Biggar as "scandalous."
The appointment has been seen as a contradiction of the recent assurance given by academy President Abp. Vincenzo Paglia that all of its members would be completely pro-life.
On June 6, Paglia said he is hoping that "membership will be seen as not only talented and accomplished, but also as truly representative of all who value life at all its stages."
When Biggar was asked by Life Site News whether his appointment indicates that the Catholic Church is changing its stance on abortion, he said that he could not comment on the Church's position as he was not a Roman Catholic.
He stated that his recent appointment may be due to his sustained work on the issues of voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide, noting that his views on those issues were consistent with the Church's.
Shortly after Pope Francis was elected, many mainstream media have speculated that the Church might soften its stance on abortion. However, the pope has consistently expressed his opposition to abortion and urged society to protect human lives, including the unborn.
A few weeks after his election, he made a personal call to a woman who got pregnant out of wedlock, urging her to keep her baby and see the child as a "gift from God."