Bioethics series aimed at people in the pews

  • January 18, 2011
TORONTO - From stem cell research and cloning to physician-assisted suicide and terminal sedation, Catholics seeking to better understand emerging issues in bioethics  should mark their calendars.

For People in the Pews, an “everyday bioethics” lecture series run by the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute (CCBI), seeks to help Catholics better understand the Church’s position on various issues. Starting on Feb. 3, the series will run weekly for a month at St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland parish in Toronto. Now in its fifth year, this is the first time the series is coming to the parish.

“Most people who are regular churchgoers or went to a Catholic high school have a pretty good understanding about what the Church says on moral issues,” says Moira McQueen, president of CCBI and speaker for the series. “But they don’t always know why the Church says what it says.”

The topics covered will fall within the categories of reproductive issues, end-of-life issues and euthanasia and assisted dying, said McQueen.

Fr. Andrew Macbeth, pastor at St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland parish, wanted to bring the sessions to parishioners.

“These are important ethical questions that are coming into our parishes and parish life on a constant basis,” said Macbeth. “We all have questions on the sanctity of life and on ethical decisions to be made for aging parents.

“The topics encompass a large area of concerns that many people are being faced with and it’s important that Catholics have an up-to-date and reliable source of information.”

McQueen said the series offers Catholics a guide on making medical decisions in moral areas.

“Understanding bioethics has become increasingly important as science and medicine develop new techniques that regularly challenge our traditional understanding of the sanctity of life,” she said.

But the sessions are meant to be more than just lectures.

“We try to engage people directly,” said McQueen. “The real point of the series is to get people to ask questions, have them discuss the issues amongst themselves and learn from each other.”

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