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Bioethical Issues- A Catholic Moral Analysis

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Scaria Kanniyakonil, Kottayam: OIRSI Publications, 2017, pp 344, Rs. 300/-

This book deals with theology of human body-life and Catholic view on all the medical issues from the beginning to the end of life.   This is a medical ethics text (or source) book for doctors, nurses, medical professionals, teachers, prolife workers  and pastors.

Scaria Kanniyakonil (MA, STD/PhD), a priest from the archdiocese of Changanacherry, is a professor of Theological Ethics at PVP-Pontifical Oriental Institute of Religious Studies, Vadavathoor, Kottayam,  Kerala, India. He took his doctorate in moral theology from the Catholic University Leuven, Belgium, and MA in psychology from IGNOU New Delhi, India.  His works are: Ethical Perspectives of the Eastern Churches (2004), Living Organ Donation and Transplantation (2005), Bioethical Issues and the Family (2005),The Fundamentals of Bioethics: Legal Perspectives and Ethical Approaches (2007), Wait For God’s Call: Catholic Perspective on Euthanasia (2011), New Horizons in Christians Ethics: Reflections from India (2014), The Pastoral Challenges of Marriage and Family- Responses from India (2015).



Scaria Kanniyakonil, Kottayam: OIRSI Publications, 2017, pp 344, Rs. 300/-

വായനക്കാരുടെ അഭിപ്രായങ്ങൾ താഴെ എഴുതാവുന്നതാണ്. ദയവായി അസഭ്യവും നിയമവിരുദ്ധവും സ്പര്‍ധ വളര്‍ത്തുന്നതുമായ പരാമർശങ്ങളും, വ്യക്തിപരമായ അധിക്ഷേപങ്ങളും ഒഴിവാക്കുക. വായനക്കാരുടെ അഭിപ്രായങ്ങള്‍ വായനക്കാരുടേതു മാത്രമാണ്. വായനക്കാരുടെ അഭിപ്രായ പ്രകടനങ്ങൾക്ക് ലൈഫ്ഡേ ഉത്തരവാദിയായിരിക്കില്ല.

1 review for Bioethical Issues- A Catholic Moral Analysis

  1. Paul Schotsmans Professor Emeritus of Medical Ethics, Faculty of Medicine, KU Leuven, Belgium

    This book deals with theology of human life and Catholic view on all the bioethical issues from the beginning to the end of life. We as human beings have searched since our origins for the meaning of life, and especially tried and still try to understand our own existence, reproduction, end of life and death, health, suffering, diseases and cures over all the centuries. This is an endeavor for us all, believers and non-believers. For those, inspired by faith and reason, it is even more a challenge. The author has enlarged his interest to the richness of all domains in health care ethics. Indeed, all topics in this broad field are more or less touched in this impressive publication. He is doing this as a Catholic scholar, situating himself inside this denomination (also mine) and putting his inspiration from the enormous variety of magisterial teachings on these subjects.

    This implies that the author is not going into the diversity of Catholic approaches inside the Roman-Catholic academia. Indeed, several Catholic scholars (mainly in Europe, and also including myself) have divergent views on the ethical integration of e.g. contraception, in vitro fertilization, prenatal diagnosis, stem cell research, end of life decisions and other topics.

    It should indeed be clear for the reader from the beginning – like the title indicates – that this is a presentation by an expert scholar on all different aspects of general Catholic teaching regarding bioethical issues. The Catholic Church has clear and stated views on medical interventions in human life. These teachings are based on a specific theology of the body, the human person and a society in solidarity. It is therefore not surprising to find in this work from the beginning (second chapter) an explicit clarification of these foundational concepts. The author follows with great insight and transparency the continuous line of inspiration from the Catholic tradition: “respecting the human life from the beginning to the natural death is the fundamental approach of the Catholic Church, which displays a constant awareness of and admiration for all the moments of life” (p. 308).

    Nevertheless, some non-believers or readers belonging to other religious denominations may find this book very interesting to read also. First of all, the author gives a very coherent overview of the magisterial Catholic views on these issues, but also the first chapter may interest them. Here, we find an excellent introduction to bioethics. The chapter is intended to provide the reader with an understanding of the history of bioethics and different methodologies used that may help to know the difference between secular bioethics and Catholic bioethics.

    From the second chapter on, the author presents a brilliant synthesis of Roman Catholic reflections on bioethical issues. The author states and believes clearly that our moral decisions should be based on a theology of body and life, which creates a culture of life. All imaginable subjects in medical ethics are mentioned, even the most recent ones like the application of the CRISPR technique for avoiding malformation in the transferred human embryos, the legal regulation of euthanasia in some Western European countries like Belgium and Holland, the debates on brain death in the context of organ recruitment, xenotransplantation, the risk of organ trafficking, the care for the vulnerable and especially the ageing population, the care for the victims of sexual assault and the solidarity in the distribution of health care resources.

    I like especially the fifth and the sixth chapter: the fifth on the respect for bodily integrity in health care. The author debates here subjects which are seldom present in these kinds of overviews, like the Catholic answers on harm prevention, drug addiction, alcoholism, gender reassignment, and of course organ donation and transplantation (the original research object of the author). The sixth chapter addresses some bioethical questions related to the care of vulnerable people such as children, chronic illness and physical disabilities, HIV/AIDS, intellectual disability, mental illness or dementia, and the elderly. This chapter also describes the Catholic teaching on the theology of childhood and the aged, and further highlights the relevance of Christian care ethics in bioethical decision making.

    The author clearly believes that Catholic bioethics is very relevant since there is obfuscation with regard to the underlying bioethical issues. He makes clear that it offers salient points of guidance for people who are perplexed with bioethical decisions. He illustrates how the Catholic Church suggests a myriad of solutions for bioethical problems, and may be a towering figure in the world of health care and bioresearch.

    As being a Catholic scholar myself, I can only endorse the reading of this excellent overview of the Catholic teaching on all kinds of subjects belonging to bioethics. As mentioned earlier, I am not always in agreement with the interpretation of the Catholic tradition, but I can state without any hesitation that the author is giving a correct synthesis of current and still functioning magisterial teachings in the Catholic Church. I am convinced therefore that this book may be an excellent textbook for teaching in Catholic institutions and for the formation of Catholic collaborators inside all kinds of pastoral units.

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