Catholic Franciscan University of Steubenville Installs Pro-Life Bioethics Chair

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 9, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Franciscan University of Steubenville Installs Pro-Life Bioethics Chair Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 9
, 2008

Steubenville, OH ( — At most colleges and universities the bioethics department is a rubber stamp for the kinds of scientific practices that concern pro-life groups — like embryonic stem cell research and human cloning. At Franciscan University of Steubenville, the new bioethics chair is fully pro-life.

Franciscan University celebrated the inception of the John N. and Jamie D. McAleer Chair in Bioethics at a recent ceremony.

The first fully endowed academic chair in the history of Franciscan University goes to Patrick Lee, PhD, renowned philosopher and bioethicist.

Lee, a veteran professor of philosophy at the university and a noted bioethicist, recently gave his inaugural lecture, “Human Embryos: Subject of Rights,” and he also heads the university’s Institute of Bioethics.

He defended the position that “every human being from conception until natural death is a person with full moral worth, and is a subject of rights who is worthy of the full protection of the law.”

Drawing significantly on both natural law theory and the latest findings in embryology, Lee challenged the notions of those who believe embryos are not yet fully persons. Their position, he argued, denies the fundamental equal dignity of all human beings.

Father Terence Henry, president of Franciscan University, talked about the appointment and its significance for pro-life issues.

“Questions about life itself, the dignity of life, and end-of-life issues are all being asked at this critical moment in our history,” he said. “It is crucial that we in the Church and in academics provide answers."

Joseph Esposito of the Cardinal Newman Society, told on Wednesday the move is a positive one for advancing the pro-life position on key bioethics issues.

“This is a great accomplishment for Franciscan University, hopefully the first of many endowed chairs," he said. "The focus on Catholic teaching in this most important area will be of much benefit to the Church and to the academic community.”

“Catholic colleges and universities have an opportunity to be moral leaders in the bioethics field, and it is heartening to see several seizing this opportunity," he added.

Esposito said The John Paul II Institute for Studies in Marriage & Family in Washington offers a graduate degree in biotechnology and ethics.