Pope Francis’ recent Laudato Si encyclical helps provide direction and instruction

BISMARCK, ND — “Everything is connected” are words Pope Francis repeats throughout his most recent encyclical called Laudato Si. The document he published on June 18, 2015, is one of the most authoritative forms of papal instruction on the world’s “environment.”

Pope Francis likens bioethics to Pope Benedict XVI’s writings that spoke of the “ecology of man” based on the fact that “man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will.” Pope Francis goes on by saying, “The social environment has also suffered damage … the notion that there are no indisputable truths to guide our lives, and hence human freedom is limitless.”

It’s that “social environment” language that provides a partial framework for the annual two-day bioethics seminar August 28-29 at the University of Mary in Bismarck. The event is in partnership with the National Catholic Bioethics Center. The NCBC seminar is open to all those involved in today’s pressing healthcare ethics issues and is ideal for undergraduates pursuing careers in healthcare; graduate students in fields including medicine, law, business, and public affairs; priests, ordained ministers, deacons and religious of all faiths; as well as health care professionals concerned with medicine and ethics. Anyone who is interested in attending this two-day seminar may register at the NCBC website.

“People from all over North Dakota, the United States and abroad attend the two-day seminar,” said Dr. Karen Rohr, associate professor and director of Bioethics and Faculty Formation at the University of Mary. “Anyone can attend the seminar. They do not have to be enrolled in the NCBC yearlong certification program to attend. Some people take it to enhance their existing knowledge and or to get the Catholic perspective in bioethics. Technological advances are making it imperative that healthcare providers understand and manage emerging ethical dilemmas as they occur and have the skills to guide patients, families, clinicians, and ethics committees toward resolution.”

Attendees will hear from the most renowned experts in the field of bioethics at NCBC: John Haas, president; the Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, PhD, director of education and program director; John Di Camillo, staff ethicist; Marie Hilliard, JCL, PhD, RN, director of bioethics and public policy.

Topics at the seminar are assisted reproductive technologies; prenatal and neonatal complications; stem cell research and cloning; ordinary and extraordinary means, determination of death and organ transplantation and issues of cooperation between Catholic and non-Catholic institutions.

The seminar’s objective is to form individuals in understanding and explaining the Church’s moral teaching, summarized in the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as applied to the life sciences and the practice of medicine.

Father Pacholczyk, director of education at the Center stressed that the Seminar seeks to address questions of bioethics in practical terms

Father Pacholczyk, director of education at the Center stressed that the Seminar seeks to address questions of bioethics in practical terms.

Father Pacholczyk, director of education at the Center stressed that the Seminar seeks to address questions of bioethics in practical terms, because, “bioethics is ultimately a practical science, one where we need to know, sometimes with urgency, whether or not we should discontinue the ventilator or insert the feeding tube.”

It’s important to note, this is one of only two bioethics seminars remaining in the country this year. Also, this seminar is required for those participating in the NCBC Certification Program in Health Care Ethics module courses and those considering a master’s degree in bioethics at the University of Mary.

The NCBC Certification program beginning in September and the two-day seminar account for 12 credits and can be applied to the 33 needed for the Master of Science in Bioethics at Mary. The remaining 21 credits can be achieved by enrolling in the University of Mary’s program that begins in May 2016.

Students and professionals interested in the Master of Science in Bioethics program may contact Dr. Rohr for more information at bioethics@umary.edu or (701) 355-8113, or visit www.umary.edu/bioethics.