Catholic Bioethics for a New Millennium

March 19, 2012

In his new book, Catholic Bioethics for a New Millennium, Bishop Anthony Fisher, O.P.,  provides real-life answers to the dilemmas of healthcare today. He seeks to explain and defend the Church’s position on a range of bioethical issues involving conscience, relationships and law in relation to the modern-day controversies surrounding stem cell research, abortion, transplants, artificial feeding and euthanasia, using case studies to offer insight and illumination. What emerges is a reason-based bioethics for the twenty-first century; a bioethics that treats faith and reason with equal seriousness, that shows the relevance of ancient wisdom to the complexities of modern healthcare scenarios and that offers new suggestions for social policy and regulation. Philosophical argument is complemented by Catholic theology and analysis of social and biomedical trends, to make this an auspicious example of a new generation of Catholic bioethical writing which has relevance for people of all faiths and none. Much of the argument of these chapters is philosophical, based on an appeal to natural reason, as for example the philosophical account of ‘why the unresponsive still matter’ (p. 218 and following). Yet even here theology is never far away and is revealed by an occasional quotation, making explicit a spirit that shapes the philosophical thought. So a reflection on the link between patients and patience is illuminated by a quotation from Cardinal Ratzinger from the funeral homily for Pope John Paul II: ‘The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man’ (quoted on p. 226). It is not only the words that are important here but also the context: words of a future pope on his saintly friend who lived and died so patiently, words given meaning by a life.  

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