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The National Catholic Bioethics Center
The Passing of Elio Cardinal Sgreccia
June 2019
© 2019 by The National Catholic Bioethics Center


The National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) expresses its profound gratitude for the life and teachings of His Eminence Elio Cardinal Sgreccia who passed away June 5, 2019, in Rome on the eve of his 91st birthday. Cardinal Sgreccia was a pioneer in bioethics. He founded and directed the Institute of Bioethics of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart’s Gemelli School of Medicine in Rome. He developed an influential school of ontologically grounded personalist bioethics with former students and disciples all over the world. Some call him a father of Catholic bioethics.

Sgreccia’s insights were so much in harmony with those of Pope Saint John Paul II that the Holy Father named him Vice President of the Pontifical Council for the Family and later President of the Pontifical Academy for Life. He spread the Catholic vision of bioethics in Rome and in the many countries where he taught and spoke over the years.

He continued in his roles as president of the Ut Vitam Habeant Foundation and the Donum Vitae Association in Rome after his retirement from the Academy for Life. The Cardinal remained extraordinarily active providing interviews on bioethical issues and publishing his autobiography just this year. His magnum opus was the Manuale di Bioetica (Manual of Bioethics), an encyclopedic textbook for teaching bioethics he revised in four Italian editions. It has been translated into many languages including the English edition, Personalist Bioethics: Foundations and Applications, translated and published by The National Catholic Bioethics Center.  The translation and printing of the volume was funded entirely by Dr. Marlen Junck, deceased member of the NCBC board of directors.

Dr. John Haas, President of the NCBC, remembers the intellectual rigor and pastoral sensibilities exhibited by Cardinal Sgreccia during his leadership of the Academy for Life to which he was appointed as a member by Pope Benedict VI.  “He was a luminary in the new field of bioethics but most especially for me personally, he was a beloved mentor and guide,” recalled Dr. Haas.

Dr. Joseph Meaney, the incoming NCBC president, did his doctoral work at the Gemelli's Institute of Bioethics and expressed his great admiration for Cardinal Sgreccia. “His Eminence was called Don Elio by those who knew him well. His humility and intellectual brilliance struck me every time we met. The Church mourns the loss of a great leader and thinker.”