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Free Bioethics Texts from the NCBC

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New Charter for Health Care Workers

The Pontifical Council for  Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers' definitive guide on bioethics in the Catholic Church, is now available in an online form. Updated from the earlier 1995 Charter, this book cover a wide range of issues in medical ethics, including end-of-life issues, reproductive ethics, and moral questions connected to the advance of science and medical technology.

Read it herePurchase a print version here.


 

Sex and Gender: A Theological and Scientific Inquiry

Edited by Mark F. Schwartz, Albert S. Moraczewski, and James A Monteleone addresses the considerable confusion regarding sexuality among humans. Homosexuals are seeking recognition of their way of sexual life as just an optional way of expressing and exercising human sexuality. Not a few individuals are un-certain in today’s society as to what it means to be a man or a woman, as if these categories were purely a matter of social convention. Those afflicted with a condition termed “gender dysphoria” perceive themselves as women although they recognize that anatomically they are male, or vice versa. In all these situations there is some doubt about the relationship of gender and sex. Gender in this context refers primarily to the psychological dimension, the perception of one’s self as being a man or woman. Sex is more an anatomical term, and describes the individual as physiologically male or female.This book does not provide a definitive statement. Rather, it is a record of one exchange in an ongoing dialogue between the scientific and theological communities in the complex and emotionally charged topic of human sexuality.

Read it here.


 

 Theologies of the Body: Humanist and Christian

By Benedict Ashley. Vatican II demonstrated the remarkable assimilation by Catholic theology of modern historical consciousness regarding bot the Scriptures and dogmatic development. At last a positive answer to the historical objections raised against Christianity by the secular humanist of the Enlightenment could be given. But the Council was not able to provide an equally positive answer to the Enlightenment’s other and more fundamental objections derived from modern natural science. Why more fundamental? Because the historicism of the Enlightenment arose from a romantic reaction within its own ranks to the “value-free” character of the scientific worldview and the technology it made possible. The reaction was provoked by the need to contrast a value-system which would no longer be based on nature but on human creativity, thus supplying what the new value-free, anti-teleological scientific understanding of nature could no longer provide. One of the principal thesis in this book is that this unresolved polarization within secular humanism has today resulted in that deflation of the Enlightenment which we call “postmodernism.” Again we have a “Catholic moment” when the Gospel message stifled by the Enlightenment can be heard.

Read it here.


 

What Is Man, O Lord? The Human Person in a Biotech Age 

Edited by Edward J. Furton contains the proceedings of the Eighteenth Workshop for Bishops from February 5-9, 2001. The advances in biotechnology which have made it possible to decipher the human genetic code, to alter the very biological structures of human life, and even to mix genetic material of different species have opened new vistas for the cure of human diseases and disorders. At the same, it must be acknowledged that much of this research raises grave moral questions, especially with regard to the treatment given to human beings at the first stages of their development. The Catholic tradition, drawing upon the principles of the natural law, clearly affirms that “the human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the first moment of conception; and therefore, from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every human being to life (Donum vitae, I.1). Since the fundamental ethical criterion governing scientific research can only be the defense and the promotion of the integral good of the human person, it follows that any procedure performed on human beings, even at the very dawn of their personal existence, must respect the dignity and rights originating in human nature itself. Far from an extrinsic limitation on human freedom, this moral obligation arises from the very truth about the human person.

Read it here.


 

Human Sexuality and Personhood

This volume contains the proceedings of the Workshop for the Bishops of the United States and Canada from February 2-6, 1981. The book notes the two hinges of discussion that Pope St. John Paul II cites in the 1980 synod of bishops: fidelity toward the plan of God for the family, and a pastoral way of acting. The text sets out to present a contemporary and balanced theology of human sexuality and marriage in the light of magisterial teaching and the Christian theology of the Person

Read it here.


 

Catholic Conscience: Foundation and Formation

Contains the proceedings of the Tenth Workshop for Bishops from February 4-8, 1991. The theme of this book is certainly broader than the specific arena of bioethics; however, “conscience” is a fundamental principle of ethics. As such, applied ethics presumes a clear understanding of conscience. But experience teaches that the notion of conscience is anything but clear at any level—whether in catechetics or in moral theology.

Read it here.


 

 

Catholic Identity in Health Care: Principles and Practice

By Orville N. Griese is a timely volume embodying Catholic values and standards, so direly needed in a contemporary society whose approach to serious problems is often marked by a merely pragmatic attitude. Even the most cursory contact with the field of health care will reveal that today moral and ethical problems are rampant, many of which touch upon life and death. Perhaps never in the past was it so necessary to stress the sanctity and the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person. How regrettable it is hat in large measure our society seems to have abandoned these truths, which are founded on the fact that all human beings have been made in the image and likeness of God, and have been redeemed by the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Read it here.