Fr. Leo Walsh

Bioethics institute opens new branch at Windsor’s Assumption University

  • October 23, 2015

As Windsor’s Assumption University continues along its path to rebirth, it now has a foothold in bioethics.

This fall the founding Catholic college of the University of Windsor has launched an independent branch of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute.

Basilian Father Leo Walsh, an elder statesman among Canada’s Catholic moral theologians, heads up the CCBI-A.

“I’m very pleased that there is a CCBI at Assumption and that (Fr.) Leo Walsh and Fr. Michael Prieur have started to get it underway,” said CCBI executive director Moira McQueen. “Leo is clearly very knowledgeable and the more that is transmitted to the community the better. CCBI’s twin mandate is research and education and I think we do a reasonable amount of each. I have always seen the value in education and research aimed at the Catholic community for its use. Education in Church teaching is necessary for everyone.”

Outreach programs to parishes as well as Grade 12 students in Windsor’s Catholic high schools will be the base on which Walsh hopes to build an academically respectable institute researching, publishing and teaching in bioethics, Walsh told The Catholic Register.

Assumption withdrew from all teaching and sold its historic building to the University of Windsor back in 2013. The Basilian-founded university retains its charter and continues to offer Catholic chaplaincy to the U of W’s 16,000 students.

Freed of debts and the responsibility for maintaining historic buildings, Assumption will eventually teach undergraduates at the University of Windsor again. When it does, Walsh and the CCBI — A plan to be ready.

In Walsh’s view Assumption has to engage people locally on the important debates of our time.

“The euthanasia thing, physician-assisted suicide, probably will come in one way or another,” said Walsh. “We have an excellent hospice here — the Cadillac of hospices. We want to make sure, just be a voice with them, that that will never touch their work. Never.”

Getting into high schools to talk to Catholic students about bioethics will help students planning to attend university, said Walsh.

“Just to give them basic notions of Catholic morality — what it is,” he said.

“That it’s something that can stand up to scrutiny. It’s not just pie in the sky or airy fairy stuff. That it really is defensible.”

While Walsh has been involved in the University of Toronto-based CCBI from its inception, and has been a long-time collaborator with McQueen, the new Assumption venture is completely independent, said Walsh.

“I”m working with her (McQueen). But not in an economic or financial relationship at all,” he said. “In many ways we’re associated with them, but very independent.”

The Assumption University bioethics institute will offer its own version of the CCBI’s trademarked For the People in the Pews series of lectures at Most Precious Blood’s parish hall in Windsor Nov. 5, 12, 19 and 26.

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