Religious discussion of human organs and tissues has concentrated largely on donation for therapeutic purposes. The retrieval and use of human tissue samples in diagnostic, research, and education contexts have, by contrast, received very little direct theological attention. Initially undertaken at the behest of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, this essay seeks to explore the theological and religious questions embedded in nontherapeutic use of human tissue.
Disagreement over the legitimacy of direct sterilization continues within Catholic moral debate, with painful and at times confusing ramifications for Catholic healthcare systems. This paper argues that the medical profession should be construed as a key moral authority in this debate, on two grounds. First, the recent revival of neo-Aristotelianism in moral philosophy as applied to medical ethics has brought out the inherently moral dimensions of the history and current practice of medicine.
Government and market forces have fundamentally transformed the religious healthcare sector. Religious healthcare organizations are struggling to define their identities and determine what it is that makes them different and what implications the differences have for the delivery of social services and for public life.
This essay attempts to describe contemporary Catholic sponsored health care in the United States and to describe the purpose and structure of these particular Christian charitable organizations within the broader society. As health care has become more complex, critics claim that there is not a need for Catholic sponsored health care any longer. The author attempts to evaluate critically whether Catholic health care has a place in contemporary society.
Discussions of genetic enhancements often imply deep suspicions about human desires to manipulate or enhance the course of our future. These unspoken assumptions about the arrogance of the quest for perfection are at odds with the normally hopeful resonancy we find in contemporary theology. The author argues that these fears, suspicions and accusations are misplaced. The problem lies not with the question of whether we should pursue perfection, but rather what perfection we are pursuing.
In addressing issues of access to health care and rationing, Jewish and Roman Catholic writers identify similar guiding values and specific concerns. Moral thinkers in each tradition tend to support the guarantee of universal access to at least a basic level of health care for all members of society, based on such values as human dignity, justice, and healing. Catholic writers are more likely to frame their arguments in terms of the common good and to be more accepting of rationing that denies beneficial and needed health care to some persons.
With rare exceptions, Roman Catholic moral theologians condemn the sale of human organs for transplantation. Yet, such criticism, while rhetorically powerful, often oversimplifies complex issues. Arguments for the prohibition of a market in human organs may, therefore, depend on a single premise, or a cluster of dubious and allied premises, which when examined cannot hold. In what follows, I will examine the ways in which such arguments are configured.
In his paper "The Catholic Church, the American Military, and Homosexual Reorientation Therapy," David W. Lutz ultimately concludes that it is "appropriate, and highly ethical" for the American military to offer reorientation therapy to help homosexuals overcome "the vice of sodomy." The major thrust of his paper, however, is to call for abandonment of the "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" policy currently in place in the military.
This essay argues for a renewed institution of an ancient Christian practice, the Order of Widows. Drawing on the Roman Catholic tradition's recent writings on the elderly, particularly the 1998 document from the Pontifical Council for the Laity entitled "The Dignity of Older People and their Mission in the Church and in the World," I argue that we find within the Roman Catholic tradition advocacy for a renewed understanding of the vocation of the elderly within the Church.