Sullivan appointed to Pontifical Academy for Life

  • August 13, 2007

{mosimage}TORONTO - Toronto’s Dr. Bill Sullivan, the founding executive director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute and president of the International Association of Catholic Bioethicists, has been appointed to the Pontifical Academy for Life.

The 47-year-old Sullivan becomes the only Canadian among the 60 scholars, scientists and clergy who are full members of the Academy. There are three Canadians among the 13-year-old academy’s network of corresponding members.

“The most important challenge for the academy is to identify new bioethical issues at very early stages,” Sullivan wrote in an e-mail to The Catholic Register. “It is not sufficient, I think, merely to hope to keep up with biotechnology. If biotechnology is to be at the service of the human person, the church, with the help of the academy, needs to keep articulating a vision of how our current and emerging science and technologies can best promote the flourishing of individuals and communities around the world.”

{sidebar id=1} Sullivan is a physician and researcher in St. Michael’s Hospital’s family medicine department who has worked extensively with marginalized and homeless people who have both intellectual limitations and psychiatric problems. He is also an expert in the thinking of Jesuit philosopher Bernard Lonergan, and author of the 2004 book Eye of the Heart: Knowing the Human Good in the Euthanasia Debate.

At the Pontifical Academy’s February 2008 congress on care for terminally ill patients, Sullivan will present a paper on caring for people with developmental disabilities. His first meeting with the Academy will be in October.

While it’s not the role of the research-based Pontifical Academy for Life to act as a kind of international lobby organization, or to try to influence government policy, the prestigious roundtable can have an effect on the debate worldwide, said Sullivan. The organization can “find effective ways to bring together the expertise needed to understand what is at stake, and then to clearly communicate positions in a way that is intellectually compelling and attractive to persons of good will,” he said.

“If the electorate is awakened to the importance of these issues in bioethics, as it has in recent years to issues related to the environment, governments will listen.”

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