Allocating Scarce Medical Resources: Roman Catholic Perspectives

By H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr.; Mark J. Cherry | Go to book overview

Roman Catholic Theology and the
Allocation of Resources to
Critical Care: The Boundaries of
Faith and Reason

Mary Ann Gardell Cutter

This essay addresses methodological questions concerning what or who provides access to knowledge about how Roman Catholic institutions and individuals ought to allocate resources to critical care.1 In focusing on methodological issues, it does not forward specific guidance regarding how to allocate critical care resources. Rather, it maps the range of responses offered by Roman Catholic authors in this volume. The essay argues that differences among Roman Catholic views regarding the allocation of resources to critical care turn on how authors understand the boundaries of and relation between faith and reason in the acquisition of knowledge.


ACCESSING TRUTH: THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF
FAITH AND REASON

Nearly all Christian thinkers, including Roman Catholics, agree that humans have a supernatural knowledge revealed by God and accessed by faith, though they do not at all agree about the contribution of natural knowledge or reason. The problem of faith2 and reason3 in its Christian version amounts to the following question: Inasmuch as God has revealed Himself in a supernatural self-disclosure, what role, if any, does natural reason play in the quest for theological knowledge? Two ancient church fathers, Tertullian of Antioch (ca. 160–230) and Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150–215), illustrate that from the beginning of Christian theology there existed two distinctly different answers to this question.4

Tertullian took as his point of departure Saint Paul's declaration that

Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a
stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews
and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of

-310-

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