Tag: roman catholics

Bioethics Blogs

The meaning of m-a-r-r-i-a-g-e

I am reprinting below my opinion piece in today’s Morning Call, which can be found at http://www.mcall.com/opinion/yourview/

Our Two-Track “Marriage” System

Kim Davis, the County Clerk in Morehead, Kentucky, had been in jail for contempt of court, for refusing to comply with an order to issue marriage licenses to all “ eligible” couples, including those of the same sex. She claims that she is upholding her religious beliefs, because only marriages between a man and a woman are recognized by God.

Some may admire her stubbornness and others decry it, but the reality is that Ms. Davis is caught in a category mistake, one we have been stumbling over for a long time. There are two words spelled m-a-r-r-i-a-g-e in this country and these words describe sharply different things. When the state, in the person of Ms. Davis, issues a marriage license, it is acknowledging a secular contract which carries a host of secular privileges and responsibilities.

A civil “marriage” license and a religious “marriage” ceremony are two entirely different things. In fact, it would have been far better had the state not gotten into the “marriage” business in the first place. “Marriage” has so much religious and cultural baggage, that the state has no business presiding over it. The politicians who begged, in the political struggles around same-sex marriage, “Just don’t call it marriage,” were on the right track. What we really have, if we think about it clearly, is a system of government licensed civil unions, for gays and straights alike.

For some couples, this is enough.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Death Carts [EOL in Art 16]

The death cart is an object that was used in acts of corporal penance performed by the Hermanos de la Fraternidad Piadosa de Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno. The Brotherhoods were secretive, lay-religious fraternal organizations that served the spiritual needs of Hispanic Roman Catholics in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado in the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Public processions reenacted the sorrow and suffering of Christ’s final days.  The female Angel of Death, Doña Sebastiana, serves as a reminder of human mortality and the importance of preparing for a good death through prayer and virtuous deeds. 

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Questions to which the Answer is Yes

Over at Practical Ethics, Charles Camosy asks a question: Can bioethics be done without theology?

Yep.  It can.

Well, that was quick and simple.

But – oh, all right: I probably ought to say a bit more.  Now, Camosy’s post is quite long, and that means that if I want to scrutinise it in any detail, I’d have to generate something at least as long.  I’m not sure if I – or any reader – has the patience for that, so what follows is probably not going to be without the odd gap.  All the same, this post has turned out to be something of a monster in its own right – so it might be worth going to make a cup of tea first if you intend to read it.

The tl;dr version is that I think that Camosy’s argument is fallacious in several places.  And though I’m arguing from a position of godlessness, I think that the problems ought to be apparent to those who do have faith as well.  With that caveat issued, here we go…

Camosy’s opening gambit is that “theological bioethics is in trouble”.  Part of the explanation of the trouble, he claims, is that the nature of ethics in Universities – I take him to mean theology departments here – is changing, and for a couple of reasons.  The first is that

as theology continues to morph into religious studies in many university departments, “social ethics” now swallows everything in its path—with almost all questions of ethics becoming questions exclusively about history, sociology and/or economics.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Can Bioethics be done without Theology? Guest Post from Charles Camosy

Guest Post: Charles Camosy, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at Fordham University, New York City
E-mail: ccamosy@gmail.com Twitter: @nohiddenmagenta

The discipline of theological bioethics is in trouble.

Especially as theology continues to morph into religious studies in many university departments, “social ethics” now swallows everything in its path—with almost all questions of ethics becoming questions exclusively about history, sociology and/or economics. Furthermore, especially in the Roman Catholic world, academic and ecclesial politics push against academics working on issues like abortion, euthanasia, health care distribution, and artificial reproductive technologies. After all, regardless of the position one takes on these issues, it is bound to run afoul of one of two orthodoxies: that of the Church or that the secular academy. Especially if not yet established in one’s academic career, it can be dangerous to be branded a heretic by one of these power brokers. Unsurprisingly, good universities are struggling even to find marginally viable candidates for excellent bioethics jobs. Most theological ethicists have decided not to write on bioethics.
But there is another reason that theological bioethics is in trouble. Today’s centers of power in academic and clinical bioethics (at least in the developed West) generally don’t take theology seriously. I recently attended the annual meeting of the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities and was dismayed—though, I must say, not surprised—to see that a grand total of zero papers had an explicitly theological argument. Those of us who do theological bioethics know that, in order to get a paper accepted by today’s ASBH, one is forced to hide or translate one’s theological commitments.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.