Archive for the ‘Defending Life’ Category

Jesuit Uses Philosophy to Explore Universal Principles of Society

How do we make sense of life?  How should we treat others? When human life is at stake, are there reasonable principles we can rely on to guide our actions? What kind of society should be built?

Many people rely on their religious beliefs to answer these questions.  But not everyone accepts the same religious premises or recognizes the same spiritual authorities. In an effort to understand this balance, Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer wrote the book “Ten Universal Principles: A Brief Philosophy of the Life Issues” to explore the ten basic principles that must govern the reasonable person’s thinking and acting about life issues.

The 10 universal principles discussed in the book are broken down into four sections under the topics of reason, ethics, justice and natural rights, and identity and culture.

Fr. Spitzer – former president of Washington’s Gonzaga University and founder of the California-based Magis Institute – said that he wanted the work to be “very accessible” and help everyday Catholics learn how to oppose issues such as euthanasia by using philosophy.

A highly-regarded philosopher, Fr. Spitzer appeared on EWTN’s Bookmark to discuss the book in depth:

Italian Jesuit Brings Background as Doctor and Moral Theolgian to the Study of Bioethics at Boston College

He is a doctor, priest and moral theologian whose medical training and practice have enriched his understanding and study of bioethics.

With this background, School of Theology and Ministry Associate Professor, Jesuit Father Andrea Vicini, is uniquely equipped to study the complex, and often controversial, ethical issues that have emerged in the wake of technological and scientific advances in health and medicine.

“Fr. Vicini is one of the few specialists in medical ethics who is both a physician and a theologian. His broad international background gives him keen insight into the importance of the social and cultural contexts of medical practice,” said Jesuit Father David Hollenbach, the University Chair in Human Rights and International Justice.  “BC and its students will benefit greatly through his presence.”

“Part of the task and responsibility of reflecting theologically on [ethical] issues,” said Fr. Vicini, who joined the STM faculty last fall, “is that you need to combine different elements that are relevant for theological thinking. First is the tradition — theological insight from other theologians in the past and the present. Second is the magisterial, or official, teaching. The other is the experience of the people. This way the universal and the particular are given consideration.”

When dealing with the end of life, he says, the Christian tradition is to see it as a process and to consider the patient’s consciousness, identity and network of relationships. Ethical challenges, however, arise from the interaction of new technologies and end-of-life issues, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which can be used to determine if brain-injured patients previously thought to be in a vegetative state may, in fact, be reclassified as being in a minimally conscious state.

The technology is still very primitive, but the concept raises issues such as possibility of recovery, access to quality rehabilitative care and family support, according to Fr. Vicini, whose article on this topic will be published later this year in The Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics.

Another emerging field of interest for Fr. Vicini is oncofertility, which looks at preserving the fertility of cancer patients. “Advances in cancer treatment for children and young adults have the positive result of recovery but also the negative result of infertility. Technology is available now that can be used to preserve fertility and restore, not only the patients’ health, but their wholeness.” He wrote on the topic of ovarian tissue transplantation for the journal Theological Studies.

A native of Italy who earned his medical degree from the University of Bologna, Fr. Vicini was born with a physical deformity affecting his left hand. He wanted to become a doctor “to help people, to heal and cure. The experience of disability in my life has helped me feel close to people in need.” He was drawn to pediatric practice in particular, he said, because of its holistic nature and opportunity to build relationships with patients and their families. “You get to witness the healing power of medicine in a special way.”

Discernment led Fr. Vicini to join the Society of Jesus in 1987. “I was attracted to the Jesuit commitment to help people in need in various frontiers around the world through education, social justice work and interactions between scientists and other religions and cultures.” He was ordained a priest in 1996.

To read the full story about Fr. Vicini at Boston College, please click here: [Boston College's New Bioethics Professor]


Ignatian Pro-Life Network holds annual Mass and Rally for Life

The Ignatian Pro-Life Network, a union of pro-life groups from Jesuit high schools, colleges, universities and parishes across the U.S., held the annual Mass for Life & Rally yesterday in Washington, D.C.

Marchers attended the Mass for Life at St. Aloysius Church along with the Rally for Life following the Mass, to hear speakers and student reports from schools before joining the March for Life. Jesuit Father Joe Laramie was the guest homilist, the full video of which is now available:

To learn about Jesuit Conference’s statement on the abortion issue, read “Standing for the Unborn”.

To follow the Ignatian Pro-Life Network, visit the Ignatian Pro-Life Network page on Facebook.

Jesuits Groups Prepare for March for Life Mass & Rally

The Ignatian Pro-Life Network, a union of pro-life groups from Jesuit high schools, colleges, universities and parishes across the U.S., invites participants to the annual Mass for Life & Rally on Jan. 23, 2011 in Washington, D.C.

Marchers are encouraged to attend the Mass for Life at 9:30 a.m. at St. Aloysius Church along with the Rally for Life following the Mass, to hear speakers and student reports from schools before heading out for the March for Life.

In preparation, groups can also read the Jesuit Conference’s statement on the abortion issues, “Standing for the Unborn”, before the march.

To follow the Ignatian Pro-Life Network’s plans for the 2012 Mass and Rally for Life for Jesuit institutions and to sign up to attend, visit the Ignatian Pro-Life Network page on Facebook.

Dutch Jesuits Reflect on War-Time Service to Beirut Catholics

They regularly had to dodge the bullets during Lebanon’s civil war. But, while many people were fleeing the country, four Dutch Jesuits stayed to carry on with their work. During a recent ordination Jubilee celebration, they took a break from the festivities to take a look back at their wartime service.

The four tenacious Dutch clerics were celebrating their 50th anniversaries as Roman Catholic priests and their 60th anniversaries as members of the Jesuit order. Their time in Lebanon has meant that Jesuit Fathers Theo Vlugt, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, Paul Brouwers and Michael Brenninkmeijer have become devoted to the country.

“If you make yourself at home somewhere, it becomes your home. It’d take us a long time to get used to the Netherlands again,” Fr. Brouwers explains. He, like his colleagues, is in his eighties. For years, he headed a successful Beirut publisher.

Fr. Theo Vlugt, who was born and bred in Amsterdam, sometimes had to eat tinned brown beans for weeks on end during the long and bloody civil war (1975–1990). “I occasionally think back and ask myself: did it really happen?” He was often seen by Dutch people as the face of Lebanon during the civil war.

For instance during the ‘One million for a shoe’ appeal in 1989, which raised three million Dutch guilders to buy shoes for Lebanese children. The campaign was inspired by Vlugt who headed a primary school in a poor district of Beirut. “They sometimes came to school with plastic bags tied round their feet,” he explains.

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