Bioethics and Beatitude: An Introduction to Catholic Bioethics

By Swanson, Thor | Ethics & Medicine, Spring 2013 | Go to article overview

Bioethics and Beatitude: An Introduction to Catholic Bioethics


Swanson, Thor, Ethics & Medicine


Bioethics and Beatitude: An Introduction to Catholic Bioethics Nicanor Pier Giorgio Austriaco. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0813218823; 327 PAGES, PAPER, $24.95.

For many Protestant Christians, studying Roman Catholic ethics or moral philosophy can seem like learning a foreign language with new vocabulary, syntax, and grammar. Moreover, for many Catholics, justification of a Catholic bioethical position is often unknown and/or not understood. The recently published work, Bio medicine and Beatitude: An Introduction to Catholic Bioethics, adds another book to the list of introductory books on Catholic bioethics, filling a need for Protestants, Catholics, and nonChristians alike.

Nicanor Pier Giorgio Austriaco, a biology and theology professor at Providence College, is the lead author of the work. As stated in the introduction, this book "narrates a bioethics that emphasizes the pursuit of beatitude in the lives of those who are confronted by the moral questions raised by the biomedical and the other life sciences, and the dynamic interplay of faith and reason that characterizes the Catholic tradition." (1)

Although organized into 8 chapters, the book contains three main sections. Chapter one, entitled "Bioethics and the Pursuit of Beatitude," gives "an overview of the Catholic moral vision that places bioethics within the context of each individual's pursuit of beatitude." (7) In this chapter, the writer examines both the way that bioethics intersects the Christian life and the manner in which Roman Catholics justify the rightness and wrongness of actions.

The second major section of the book is organized around a life cycle theme, with chapters on the beginning of life (chapter 2), human procreation (chapter 3), the clinical encounter (chapter 4), and the end-of-life (chapter 5). In each of these chapters the author examines contemporary Catholic and oppositional perspectives on relevant ethical issues, including abortion, in-vitro fertilization, euthanasia, and more. …

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