The Church and the Biomedical Revolution A Lecture Series

Sponsored by: The Center for Catholic Studies Beyond Career to Calling The Lilly Grant Program

"But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?" –Job 28:12

Job’s question is pertinent in every generation, though perhaps no more so than today, as the current biomedical revolution—already global in scale—continues to push back what were once considered the limits of both our knowledge of and control over the fundamental processes of human life. Though far from defeated, the ancient enemies of disease, disability, and premature death increasingly give way to innovative and powerful therapeutic interventions. At the same time, these vastly augmented powers over human life raise troubling questions whose answers are anything but clear. What limits are there, if any, to our technological abilities to reshape human nature, for example, through genetic manipulation? In a world of scarce resources, how should the risks and benefits of biomedical research be allocated? How, in our often divided and morally fragmented world, is it possible to articulate a vision of human flourishing sufficiently rich and compelling to guide these biomedical innovations? Where, indeed, shall wisdom be found?

The premise of this lecture series is that traditional Christianity, as practiced primarily in the Catholic and Orthodox churches, but including all churches committed to what has been called the "Great Tradition," has been and remains an invaluable repository of such wisdom. Accordingly, the overarching aim of the series is to engage the question of the nature and shape of the Church’s contribution to the public/global debate occasioned by the biomedical revolution, which comprise questions of law, policy, and morality, as well philosophy, and, ultimately, theology.

Fifth in the Series

"End-of-Life Decision-making in the Catholic Tradition" Faculty Seminar (closed to the public)

Dr. Christopher Tollefsen University of South Carolina July 20 - 24, 2009 9:00am - Noon JRC 246


Fourth in the Series

"Catholic Health Care and Cooperation with Evil"

Dr. M. Cathleen Kaveny Notre Dame Law School

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 JRC 126, 7:30pm

This event is free and open to the public.

Professor M. Cathleen Kaveny, a scholar who focuses on the relationship of law and morality, joined the Notre Dame Law School faculty as an associate professor in 1995 and was named the John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law in 2001. She earned her A.B. summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1984, and holds four graduate degrees from Yale University including her M.A. (1986), M.Phil (1990), J.D. (1990) and Ph.D. (1991). A member of the Massachusetts Bar since 1993, Professor Kaveny clerked for the Honorable John T. Noonan Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and worked as an associate at the Boston law firm of Ropes & Gray in its health-law group.

Professor Kaveny has published over forty articles and essays, in journals and books specializing in law, ethics, and medical ethics. She has served on a number of editorial boards including The American Journal of Jurisprudence, The Journal of Religious Ethics, the Journal of Law and Religion, and The Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics. She has been a Senior Fellow at the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago (2002-2003) and the Royden B. Davis Visiting Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Georgetown University (1998). Professor Kaveny is a member of the Steering Committee of the Catholic Common Ground Initiative, which was founded by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin to help overcome polarization within the Catholic Church). She also serves on the advisory board of the University’s Erasmus Institute, created in 1997 to focus on reinvigorating the role of religiously-based intellectual traditions in contemporary scholarship.

Third in the Series

"Bioethics and the Religious Citizen in a Liberal Democracy"

Dr. Frank Beckwith Senior Visiting Fellow, Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture

Francis Beckwithis currently the Mary Anne Remick Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture. His regular appointment is Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies at Baylor University, where he teaches courses in the departments of philosophy, political science, and the J.M. Dawson Institute for Church-State Studies. 

Dr. Beckwith has published widely, authoring or editing over 15 books and many articles. His most recent publications include Defending Life: A Moral And Legal Case Against Abortion Choice (Cambridge University Press, 2007), and Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic (Brazos, 2009). A former president of the Evangelical Theological Society and board member of the Society of Christian Philosophers and the Evangelical Philosophical Society, Dr. Beckwith was selected as Inside the Vatican magazine’s number one person of 2007. He and his wife, Frankie, live in Woodway, Texas. Further information about Dr. Beckwith may be found at his website:

Second in the Series

"Catholic Health Care in the Age of Biotechnology: A Ministry or a Government Sponsored Biomedical Endeavor?"

Dr. Marie Hilliard and Dr. Stephen Napier National Catholic Bioethics Center

Dr. Marie Hilliard holds graduate degrees in Maternal-Child Health Nursing, Religious Studies, Canon Law and Professional Higher Education Administration, and she has an extensive professional background in medical ethics and public policy and advocacy. She is a practicing registered nurse who has been substantially involved in health care regulation at the state and national levels for twelve years. In addition, she is a canon lawyer and serves as a resource for the United States Bishops on the implementation of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services as well as Church - State relations.

As a colonel in the United States Army Reserves, Dr. Hilliard continues to practice as a registered nurse. She has been the Acting Deputy Brigade Commander of the 5th Brigade, 98th Training Division, responsible for all United States Army Reserve medical training for the northeastern United States. She developed the northeastern U.S. Licensed Practical Nurse training program which was conducted out of Ft. Devens, Massachusetts and approved by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing. She has been recognized by the Army for her contributions with the Meritorious Service Medal.

Dr. Stephen Napier received his Doctorate in philosophy from Saint Louis University and his Masters from the University of South Carolina. His dissertation was on virtue epistemology and cognitive motivation and was written under the direction of James Bohman, Kent Staley and Linda Zagzebski. During his graduate school career Dr. Napier was the recipient of several awards and fellowships including, the James A. Oliver Logic Award, the Graduate-Student Research Excellence Award, the SLU2000 Dissertation Fellowship, and the Midwest Consortium of Catholic Graduate Schools Fellowship. Dr. Napier completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in clinical and research ethics at St. Thomas hospital in Nashville during which he performed numerous ethics consults and was involved in the hospital’s Internal Review Board. Before joining the NCBC as a staff ethicist Dr. Napier was a Human Protections Analyst at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center (ranked among the top 5 children’s hospitals in the nation) where he also served as Director of Ethics Education. Currently, Dr. Napier serves on the University of Pennsylvania’s Institutional Review Board (IRB 8 : Socio-Behavioral Board). He is married and lives in Philadelphia.

First in the Series

"The Culture Wars and Bioethics: Medical Moral-Theology Reconsidered"

Dr. H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr.

Dr. H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr. holds degrees both in philosophy and medicine and is a well-known and influential voice in the field of bioethics. In addition to his faculty positions at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Engelhardt has lectured at universities across the world, authored over two hundred and fifty articles and chapters of books, and has written two seminal books on the topic, "The Foundations of Bioethics" and "The Foundations of Christian Bioethics."

Dr. Engelhardt’s lecture is the first of a three-year long series of lectures and faculty summer seminars on the theme "The Church and the Biomedical Revolution" being sponsored by the Center for Catholic Studies (Beyond Career to Calling), The Murphy Institute for Law & Public Policy, the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, and the McLaurin Institute at the University of Minnesota.