Building a Catholic Bioethics Knowledge Base Amidst a Busy Life


Many people today are very busy, sometimes wondering “who’s got time to read?”  And yet, given the rapid and varied scientific breakthroughs which render contemporary research and healthcare contexts evermore complex and morally confusing, relevant reading is arguably imperative given our responsibility to the common good as voters, donors to charities, and investors in corporations to name but a few.  Fair enough.  But is such a level of reading efficiently achievable for Catholics and moral friends of the Church who are well enough educated but seemingly too busy?  Yes!  Where?  How?

Among its many excellent resources, The National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC), thanks to an impressive group of contributors, provides readers with one very exceptional work, now in its second edition, entitled Catholic Health Care Ethics: A Manual for Practitioners.  While this resource can be studied on its own, for those of little or no experience it is best to study its contents within the context of the NCBC’s highly-efficient, reasonably-priced, well guided, and well-respected on-line “National Catholic Certification Program in Health Care Ethics.”

The second edition of Catholic Health Care Ethics: A Manual for Practitioners is rightly called a “manual” given its concise and clear sections that together cover a wide range of highly relevant issues.  At the same time it is more than a mere “manual.”  It is a single-source collection of concise scholarly essays which, individually and collectively, equip readers to better understand and thereby embrace relevant Catholic magisterial documents (explications of Catholic Moral Thought) included in its pages.  Moreover, thanks to its extensive bibliographical information, this “manual” amounts to a stout launching pad from which readers can efficiently engage in further research.

Consistent with its title, this “manual” reasonably limits itself to content highly relevant to mainstream contemporary healthcare practice.  Given the complexities of “mainstream” practice, more esoteric fields (e.g. nanotechnology) are not addressed within its pages.  Not to worry, such emerging fields will almost certainly help shape future editions.  These things take time.

While properly-technical language is used for precision and clarity, non-”practitioners” willing to seek definitions will also find this “manual” to be accessible and quite helpful.  By way of concrete example, this “manual” and its predecessor are well enough written to have been enthusiastically embraced by folks often fairly criticized for not reading everything their professors assign-undergraduate students in my care in fields as diverse as marketing, history, political science, nursing, chemistry, and biology to name but a few.  If you are college educated and desire to learn bioethics well in the warm light of Catholic Moral Thought, this “manual” is accessible to you regardless of whether or not you happen to be a “practitioner.”

For those individuals with lives arguably too busy to engage in much reading, this reference can be read in short bursts (as little as 15-30 minutes).  How so?  Each of the essays is concise, sub-sectioned, and followed by a short editorial summation which can be read both before and after completing its respective essay unto quicker and fuller comprehension of that essay.  As mentioned above, this resource is best studied in combination with the NCBC on-line certification program in Catholic Health Care Ethics over the course of little less than one calendar year.  Insofar as the on-line program is designed for very busy people, the content rich readings and assignments proper to the program are appropriately concise.


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