Public invited to attend two-day event

BISMARCK, ND — The case of Charlie Gard has prompted a fierce debate around the world about medical ethics and reached international attention when both Pope Francis and United States President Donald Trump immediately offered support to the parents of the terminally ill infant from the United Kingdom.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Great Ormand Street Hospital can discontinue life support to the baby, who has a rare genetic disease. His doctors have wanted to take him off life support, but his parents have sought to keep him alive to attempt experimental treatment for his rare condition. As the case gained international coverage, it also drew the attention of the two most powerful leaders in the world.

“The Holy Father is following with affection and emotion the situation of little Charlie Gard and expresses his closeness to his parents. He is praying for them, in the hope that their desire to accompany and care for their own child until the end will be respected,” the director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, said in a statement.

“If we can help little Charlie Gard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so,” said President Trump in a tweet.

The family had been requesting the experimental therapy since last November hoping they could get help from mitochondrial-disease specialists in the U.S. According to the lawyers representing Charlie’s parents, the drawn out legal battles to get the boy to America for experimental treatment has taken its toll on the infant and it appears “time has run out.”

That announcement signaled the end of the legal fight and the beginning of the parents’ final wish of saying their goodbyes to Charlie in hospice care.

The University of Mary, in partnership with the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC), on Friday and Saturday, August 11 and 12, 2017, brings together world-renowned experts to make sense of it all and answer questions regarding End of Life Decision-Making and many more current topics.

The general public and workforce professionals across all sectors are encouraged to attend this event that takes place at the Gary Tharaldson School of Business on the campus of the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND.

“The objective of the NCBC’s Two-Day Seminars is to train those engaged in the healthcare ministry and other interested individuals, to effectively represent the Church’s moral teaching in their various institutions as it is summarized in ‘The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services,’” stated Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D., the director of Education and Ethicist at NCBC, professor of bioethics at the University of Mary and a leading authority on bioethical topics such as stem cell research and cloning. “Student outcomes from the seminar should be to articulate the Church’s understanding of the inherent dignity of the human person; have a sense of how to apply the Church’s moral teaching; and identify some of the resources available to health care workers and others involved in the health care ministry that provide guidance for the resolution of bioethical issues.”

Other ethicists presenting with Pacholczyk include Dr. John Brehany, and Dr. John Di Camillo. Brehany, formerly executive director and ethicist of the Catholic Medical Association (CMA), joined NCBC in January 2015 as the director of Institutional Relations. Brehany serves as a consultant to two committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and has worked on national partnerships addressing conscience rights, healthcare reform, and respect for human life. Di Camillo earned his doctorate in bioethics summa cum laude from the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome (2016), and received the Academic Excellence Award for his dissertation. He holds a licentiate in bioethics from the same institution (2009), and a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania (2006), where he double majored in the biological basis of behavior and Italian studies, receiving distinctions for most outstanding academic performance in each field.

“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 attend the seminar 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.”

People interested in the two-day bioethics seminar or would like to register for the event online can do so at wanting to learn more about the University of Mary bioethics program should contact the Director of Bioethics, Dr. Karen Rohr, at or (701) 355-8113.