Research Scholar Prof. Fr. Michael Baggot, LC, at the University of Edinburgh

On March 23rd, 2024, Prof. Fr. Michael Baggot, LC, Research Scholar of the Chair and Professor of the Faculty of Bioethics, was one of the keynote speakers at a day conference organised by the Edinburgh chapter of the Thomistic Institute and the Albertus Institute titled “Evolution and Theism” which was held at New College of the University of Edinburgh.

Prof. Fr. Baggot presented a paper titled “Beyond Natural Selection: The Human-Driven Future of Technological Evolution”. He began his talk by presenting the various aspects of the contemporary transhumanist movement which provided participants with a comprehensive view of the subject, where he went on to highlight some of its philosophical limitations. Drawing on Thomistic thought, Prof. Fr. Baggot then emphasised the importance of virtue in discerning how to properly take advantage of the positive elements of emerging technologies and its capacity in improving our lives. Finally, he concluded his presentation by urging for a recovery of “Catholic transhumanism” which aims for a “qualitative elevation rather than a mere quantitative extension of this life”.

Bioethics and Surrogacy: Chair Assistant Researcher Giulia Bovassi at the Glass Palace – NY

On March 20, 2024, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations and ADF International organized the conference “Too High a Cost: End Surrogacy Now Preventing the Exploitation and Commodification of Women and Children,” during the “68th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women,” one of the UN’s major annual events at the United Nations Headquarters in NYC.

Giulia Bovassi, Chair Assistant Researcher, PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Bioethics of the Pontifical Atheneaum Regina Apostolorum (Rome), and Assistant Professor at Anhauac University, Mexico, was one of the speakers together with H.E. Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Olivia Maurel, Casablanca Declaration Spokesperson, born via surrogacy, Herveline Urcun, Observatoire de la Procréation Assistée, Bernard Garcia-Larrain, Ph.D., International Advocacy Officer, Juristes pour l’Enfance, and Giorgio Mazzoli, Director of UN Advocacy, ADF International (moderator).

Giulia Bovassi opened her talk with a fundamental question: ‘where is the mother?’ continuing with a reflection in which she brought, first of all, the problem of corporeity that, with surrogacy, becomes a biological resource available and indifferent to the person. We face a devaluation of woman that is reduced to a means of profit, a tool to achieve the best possible product as agreed upon and established. The child, from a subject of right becomes an object of right and desire, at the center of this global biobusiness. She also addressed other aspects, concluding with a reflection on the power of biotechnology and the nature of law, bringing arguments in support of the universal crime of surrogacy, the goal of the conference.

FIRST ReCUI GENERAL ASSEMBLY

On the occasion of World Education Day the Recui- Network of Italian UNESCO Chairs organized its first General Assembly on the topics: peace education future. It was also an opportunity to present a Statement on Migration, the outcome of the work of the group dedicated to the phenomenon of migration. As UNESCO Chair, our contribution focused on Interreligious Dialogue and Human Ecology.

10th International Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion Workshop – Madrid

An Interreligious and Multicultural Perspective on

The Nature of Medicine and the Role of Physicians

DECEMEBR 17-19, 2024

 

During the three days of our UNESCO Chair workshop, we will analyze and discuss “The Nature of Medicine and the Role of Physicians”. The study and conversations will focus on how different traditions understand the discipline of medicine and perceive the practitioners of the discipline. Previous workshops have successfully taken place in Rome, Hong Kong, Mexico, Houston, Casablanca, and Bangkok with the participation of more than 80 prestigious interdisciplinary scholars from around the world.

With the rapid advancement of medical science and technology, the discipline of medicine has been radically changed in recent years and the role of physicians have also been transformed accordingly. And so, it is important to discuss and to understand the redefinition of the medical field through the lens of different cultural and religious traditions.

We plan to gather bioethics experts from Buddhist, Christian, Confucian, Daoist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and the secular backgrounds to discuss different papers on “The Nature of Medicine and the Role of Physicians” submitted for this occasion. Like previous workshops, the papers submitted for this workshop will be collected and published as a book.

The general theme was suggested by the experts participating in our previous workshop (Bangkok 2022). To find convergence and cooperation in the field of these crucial issues related to the nature of the medical profession and duty of medical practitioners will be the core subject matter of the papers and workshop discussions and lectures.

Hosted by the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights, established in two Roman universities, the Università Europea di Roma and Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum, the conferences are a first step in creating a permanent academic forum to promote dialogue and bioethical reflection in the light of human rights and duties addressed from different religious and cultural perspectives in the worlds actively advancing medical, legal and technological environment.

By gathering experts from these religions, a rare space for dialogue has been created where an atmosphere of friendship and respect reigns. Such dialogue and encounters allow us to see the other as our brothers and sisters in our common humanity. This is most urgent in our globalized reality and can eliminate suspicions that are sometimes the causes of distrust and even violence.

Our experiences enable us to share values and attitudes that facilitate dialogue and the accomplishment of UNESCO Chair goal of “Fostering the Art of Convergence and Cooperation in Global Ethics”. The Chair seeks to create a forum for diverse bioethics thought leaders. Collaborating in a spirit of respect and friendship we hope to deliver a common framework to guide the application of bioethical principles in the light of the UNESCO Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. In this manner we can inform and enlighten ethical, legal and public opinions, decisions, and actions relative to medicine, life sciences and human rights and responsibilities.

OPTIONAL – PUBLIC SYMPOSIUM

As means of dissemination, publicity and involvement of multiple and diverse scientific, medical and university communities and the public we suggest organizing during the week an event open to the public on topics related to bioethics issues in the light of human rights in a multicultural and interreligious environment.

In this event, experts in the workshop and other suggested by the hosting university will provide academic lectures or presentations for educational purposes and dissemination of knowledge on bioethics and human rights.  We will encourage participation of the outside community including public authorities, doctors and other healthcare personnel, patients, teachers, university scholars and students, and anyone interested in these relevant topics. The workshop and conference are primarily academic and apolitical, even though we encourage participation of all.

The language for this event can be decided locally by the hosting university, providing simultaneous translation into English (for foreigner participants) if needed.

Prof. Fr. Joseph Tham,LC, at the World Medical Association’s Regional Expert Meeting in Pacific on the WMA Declaration of Helsinki

On December 1st, Prof. Fr. Joseph Tham, LC,  Full Professor in Bioethics and Research Scholar of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights, will present during the ‘World Medical Association’s Regional Expert Meeting in Pacific on the WMA Declaration of Helsinki’ organized by the World Medical Association.

Abstract

Ethics of research in conflict settings

Research and trials would pose a significant challenge in conflict settings due to political instability, depravations, and lack of infrastructure.  Humanitarian organizations naturally prioritize aid over research and may need more expertise, resources, and infrastructure to conduct valid research.  Nonetheless, some advocates see value in them as they can measure the cost of the conflicts and the feasibility and effectiveness of interventions.  The ethical challenges are informed consent, research design and review, and benefits to participants and vulnerable groups. p Declaration of Helsinki has not addressed research ethics in conflict settings. However, paragraphs on the necessity of research (26-28), informed consent (25-32), vulnerability (19-20) and benefits to participants (8, 34) are pertinent to this analysis and may benefit from further reflection.  The presentation will end with a virtue ethics approach that can bridge the East-West gap in addressing this topic.