The Human Person Is a Bioethical Word

The Need to Recover the Humanity of the Human Race

Leonardo Da Vinci Pencil Drawings

The choice in our time is this: either we are equally in receipt of the gift of life1 or the ethical outcome of the “survival of the fittest” is that the fittest survive.

Prologue: In search of a common point of departure and dialogue
On the one hand, there are all the elements of thought and action which define various negative tendencies in the times in which we live; but, on the other hand, there is the whole challenge of these difficulties to help us to reinvigorate our understanding of the whole person: one in bodily being and dynamic psychological and spiritual life. Thus, in a way, we need to appreciate how deeply estranged is the person of “today,” how profoundly alienated, how radically confused, and lacking in the help of psychology, philosophy, and theology the modern person really is; and, therefore, in whatever way it is possible, it is necessary to go back to the beginnings of human personhood in the lived reality of everyday life, and to find a helpful point of departure with which to dialogue about the gift of man, male and female.

Bioethics is for all of us
Bioethics is not just a question for specialists; rather, it involves such basic questions about what it is to be a human being that, of necessity, it requires the participation of us all.2 Indeed, it could even be argued that one reason that there have been so many unwarranted inroads into a field which required so much more careful study than it has received was that the general public has perceived this to be a study which has required the most intensive and specialist training. While what used to be called “medical ethics” does have its specialist requirements, what I want to focus on here is the need for a better understanding of the human person as bodily expressed. The human body is not an ad extra: a partial and disposable expression of the human person; rather, the human body manifests the human person. In other words, the human person is a bioethical word: the human body is integral to the expression of the human person. If you look at yourself in the mirror, your body bears every kind of trace that “evidences” that it expresses you, your life in its original, daily, and ongoing integral entirety; but it also, and inseparably, expresses that you are a person-in-relationship: you are either a son or a daughter, a wife or a husband, a granddaughter or a grandson, an aunt or an uncle, a sister or a brother.

Part I of this essay endeavors to summarize the present situation. Part II of this essay asks us to consider the necessity of recovering a genuine understanding of the bodily expression of the person if we are to recover the humanity that we are rapidly losing. Part III examines the necessity of conversion to the genuine good of the human race. 

The Present Situation: an Opportunity to Renew our Understanding of Human Personhood or to Witness a Self-fulfilling Prophecy of Applied Evolutionary Theory, Namely, that the Fittest Survive (I)
In Gaudium et Spes, the document of the Second Vatican Council on “The Church in the Modern World,” there is an almost eschatological, even apocalyptic characterization of positive and negative developments: “In no other age has mankind enjoyed such an abundance of wealth … and yet, a huge proportion of the people of the world is plagued by hunger and extreme need”(4). This is the human context, then, of the present contrast: an increasingly precise knowledge of the beginning of human personhood and, at the same time, an unprecedented, practical denial of the value of human life.

On the one hand, there is an increasing recognition that each one of us begins at the moment of conception which, through the mysterious cooperation of husband, wife, and the action of God, brings about and reveals that human personhood is both essentially individual and social: that an individual person is inseparably a person-in-relation. In other words, human identity is as psychologically individual as it is unfolded through the human relationships which both bring us to exist and develop. Thus, we are called to a more profound exploration of the depths of the human reality that each one of us receives; and, therefore, to a rediscovery of the value of the “given”: the gift of existence—entailing what is perfectible, and what is unchangeable.

On the other hand, the destructive exploitation of the embryonic state of human development is not only a practical denial of the reality of the origin of human personhood, but tends in the direction of the very “mixing” of human identity with that of other creatures and, God forbid, bringing forth a tragically compromised human being. Thus, there is a tendency for human beings to denounce, radically, the relationship which in practice co-constitutes the very foundation of human identity: the recognition of humankind; and, practically if not theoretically, to pursue a line of research which manifests the imperfections of a technological expression of power divorced from humanitarian service: service that respects the life of each individual person and the interrelationships which are inseparable to each one of us.

Who survives in a human race of the survival of the the survival of the fittest?
The ethical outcome of the ‘survival of the fittest’ is that the fittest survive because the benchmark that is being universally applied is that everyone else is to be sacrificed in order that there is the survival of the fittest. In other words, we live in a culture in which the mantric principle of evolutionary theory is becoming a widespread and popular answer to every kind of ethical and human difficulty. If a child is disabled, or a man or a woman is infirm or psychologically suffering, according to this mentality, he or she needs to be aborted if “evolutionary” theory is to be fulfilled. Thus, what started out as a possible explanation of how species adapt has, subtly, assumed a sinister identity as a criteria by which the human race culls its own kind. We are already living in the midst of this new mindset. If you then link the survival of the fittest with the exaggerated fear that the planet is in danger of becoming overcrowded, or being destroyed by overpopulation then, in addition to all the other economic and social pressures that exist, the new mentality that begins to prevail is that of the enhancement of the few at the expense of the many.3

Why, suddenly, is there confusion about whether a person is a boy or a girl, a man or a woman?
There are at least three positive reasons for a preoccupation with gender identity. Firstly, there are obviously genuine instances of people needing help to resolve identity problems;4 and, it might be said, identity crises are a widespread phenomenon in different parts of the world. What is a man? What is a woman? What is a marriage? What is a family? What are the rights of a child? All these are, in part, questions of identity; and, therefore, we live in a time in which the human being is asking, again and again, what is it to be a human being: what is it to be a human person? This could be said to be a healthy examination of what we are, as human beings; and, as such, we are challenged to see what is obscuring human identity and what is essential to it. Secondly, we live in a culture which is intensely conscious of the possibility of injustice; indeed, injustice is very often defined as discrimination and, therefore, it is as if there is actually a culture of welcome: a profound desire to let no one be excluded from the good of society. Thirdly, then, we can say that there is a desire for people to be honest, in a certain sense to be “in the truth,” and to say what they are and, as it were, to start from there, and not from some pre-established starting point.

At the same time, however, where a culture prioritizes choice, as if choice were the ultimate determinant of human identity, there is the danger that this kind of choice entails a disengagement with reality; and, given the unique expression of bodily personhood which is integral to each one of us, the whole preoccupation with accepting or rejecting whatever is a given, integral expression of personhood, is to throw people’s lives into confusion. In other words, then, there is a kind of starting point which is what a person thinks about his or her life; but there is, too, the life that is presupposed in the living of it, and which is prior to what he or she thinks about that life. Thus, there is a danger that the starting point of thought is, as it were, the starting point of a goal to be accomplished, and not a potential to be realized. The human person, then, is seen as some kind of endlessly revisable identity; and, as such, the identity that is identified with, at any one time, bears an impossible provisionality about it: as if there is only change, and no constancy, or the only constant is change. In one sense, however, this is true of human life, and helps us to examine what are “social” conventions, and not essential characteristics of human personhood. In another sense, however, an endlessly revisable identity is itself a psycho-social construct which does not so much express personhood as “identity-ideas.”

Identity “issues”
But it also has to be asked, then, why is there a sudden preoccupation with the obvious evidence of bodily being, namely, whether one is male or female? Who aims to benefit from a cultural confusion about the language of the body? In other words, just as the panic about the world’s resources and the cost of human health “feeds” into a culture of culling the weak, so disturbing the natural understanding of the bodily expression of human personhood contributes to turning “human identity” into a problem; and, if it is a problem, then there needs to be a solution: either a solution which really addresses the reality of the fact that each one of us is an integrally bodily being or, conversely, we are rapidly approaching a society-wide identity crisis.

By analogy, then, what advantage is there to promoting regulations which allow you to drive the opposite way down a one way street, or to drive on red as well as green traffic lights, or to drive the wrong way down the highway? What is the social benefit of this preoccupation with our bodily expressed identity? The obvious answer is that it diverts attention from the groundswell of understanding that each person’s life begins at conception; it contributes to a sterilizing confusion about personal identity and, in addition, it occupies society in a legal struggle over “rights” instead of manifesting a universally generous welcome to all human beings. Furthermore, if passports read “progenitor one” and “progenitor two” instead of father and mother, then the passport ceases to be a reliable indicator of the human identity of the person who carries it. In other words, the confusion that enters the world of administration becomes a worrisome medley of makeshift elements of personal identity. Just as a confusing change to traffic regulations could make it unclear as to whom is endangering others by their driving; so the alteration of some everyday regulations makes it unclear who, actually, is the beneficiary, and who, actually, is in danger because of the absence of clarity about the obvious facts of human existence? The question has to be asked, then, who does it serve if a passport becomes a mixture of self-determined, or non-descript, terms and information?

In the end, then, the cultural proliferation of “choice” is in danger of rejecting the humanity of the human race. At the expense of the very humanity that perfects the human race, there is the possibility that the development of an “identity-kit” approach to human personhood promises to be an unprecedented rejection of the universal characteristics of human identity.

The medical, legal and caring professions: a source of help or a “Quality Control Agency”?
There is no doubt that history testifies to the relationship between the recognition of human identity, and the humanization of society. With the recognition of the humanity of different races, there unfolded the implications of equality before the law, political participation and access to health provision, schooling and employment. At the same time, there is a widespread adaptation of educational practices, accommodation, and road crossings to help those with mobility difficulties, learning difficulties, or both, to receive the everyday help that each person needs. There is an amazing and truly imaginative use of various kinds of artificial aids to assist communication, mobility, and transport; and, indeed, a profoundly inclusive response, wherever possible, which helps to bring people into contact with the help that they need. The positive challenge of accepting life as a necessary discipline to progress is marvelously productive of inventive, caring, and collaborative practices.

But if the caring professions are transformed into a quality control agency of the human race, where will it end if not with everyone serving the prejudicially-defined medical, legal, and social needs of the human race? Experimental practices such as the experimentation on the human embryo—whether in the very alteration of the contributing causes which bring human beings to exist, or in the alteration, or even destructive experimentation of the actual existence of a human being, contribute to a “loss” of that ancient wisdom whereby it was recognized that Eve was with child with the help of God (cf. Gn 4: 1). In other words, again there is the question of who benefits from the cultural confusion about human identity? It certainly does not benefit the person whose existence is either compromised by experimental interference, or extinguished. What is more, there develops a kind of aggressive mentality which justifies any procedure with actually unrelated claims to the investigation of human illness, and its treatment; indeed, the first laboratory experiments which gave rise to Louise Brown show us, in all simplicity, that the beginning of human life is precisely the beginning of human personhood, and that in vitro fertilization does not unblock or remedy the problem of blocked fallopian tubes.5 In other words, Eve understood precisely what is happening in the laboratory today: that even if there is a profoundly unjustified interference with the beginning of human personhood, God, in His almighty magnanimity, brings the good of human personhood to exist. But, nevertheless, we need divine help to address the new humanitarian crisis of the care of those who have been conceived beyond the welcoming completion of their development in the womb.

The experimental practices which involve “using” the raw material of actual human beings—and we can never prove the contrary where fertilization has actually occurred—have changed the practitioners into promoting artificial human perfection, a perfection which regards the human race as “raw material” for its own development. Thus, like the processing of all raw materials, the whole emphasis is increasingly on the design of the product, the availability of the resources, and the quality control criteria which govern the manufacturing process.

The Necessity of Recovering the Humanity of the Human Race:
Three Tendencies To Be Rejected as Inadequate Expressions of the Foundation of 
Human Being (II)
Increasingly it has become clear that we have inherited an inadequate understanding of the integrity of the human person; and, therefore, while there is some progress in recognizing this deficiency, there is a further work to be done. One watershed, as it were, is the realization that certain ideas have an almost inherent dualism about them; for example, that matter was viewed as eternal, and thus modified by form, rather like pastry pre-exists the cutter which brings about the star shaped biscuit. Thus, it can be said of Aristotle’s philosophy that “The two co-principles of man [matter and spirit] do not entail a single origin, since matter is eternal …”6 Thus this expresses a profoundly ancient tendency in human thought to think dualistically. However, there is the contrasting biblical insight that established creation—all creatures, and each person, in the framework of an intelligible wholeness.7 Even now, it can be said, it is necessary to think through the actual reality of the integrity of human being.

There are three tendencies, then, which are problematic in terms of thinking through the integrity of the human person: there is a tendency, which might be called “geneticism,” to an incomplete grasp of the integral nature of human flesh (IIi). Then, there is a more obviously philosophical tendency to the rejection of integral bodiliness (IIii), and a theological tendency to the rejection of an integral bodiliness (IIiii).

The tendency to “geneticism”
The following expression entails a partial perception of the human reality of personhood: that the genome is “what identifies the one-celled embryo as biologically human, and specifies its individuality.”8 The problem with this understanding of the human reality of the transmission of life is its incompleteness. In other words, it is true that the genome is a genetic identifier, as it were, of the biological identity of the human embryo; however, to focus too exclusively on the genome is to abstract, albeit a defining characteristic, of what is in fact a transmission of human life and flesh. It is the whole, then, the flesh of the human sperm, and the flesh of the human egg or ovum, which is transformed, in conception, into the bodily expression of the human person. We are the ministers of a design (cf. Humanae Vitae, 13) which destructive, non-therapeutic, and harmful experimentation denies in the very act of exploiting its characteristics.

At the resurrection we will encounter the full reality of experimentally mistreated and aborted human beings
If a human person begins and, at the same time, the humanity of the subject is compromised through an experiment which introduces the biological substance of an animal into the bodily expression of the person,9 then even if the creature is aborted, it follows that, at the resurrection, whatever became of that human person will be fully revealed. In other words, we will discover the full impact of our decisions on the day of our death, and on the day of judgement: the day of the resurrection of the dead (cf. Mt 25: 31-46). Whatever the claims of the experimentalist, the reality of what has been done to a human being will be apparent to all; and, at the same time, the participation of all will be revealed, with all its attendant degrees of responsibility, involvement, endorsement, indifference, and commercialization, or to conversion to the compassionate, truthful, and loving help to all. May the Lord have mercy on us, and call us all to recognize the humanity of the begotten, but rejected, of the human race.

The philosophical tendency to reject integral human bodiliness (IIii)
There is the tendency to philosophize as if we are not integrally, bodily beings and that personhood, therefore, is not bodily expressed. This kind of philosophizing expresses a radical inability to recognize that the human person is a single, indissoluble word. Even if death ruptures the relationship of what is actually indivisible, as difficult as this is for us to understand, the rupture of death implies an unconditional restoration of the original oneness of the human being. Philosophizing of this kind, therefore, does not begin with the integral being of the human person; but rather, with various kinds of “abstract” ethical principles: almost as if to say that if something can be thought, that it already possesses an automatic vindication, owing to being a thought expressed in words. In other words, there is a rejection of integral, human bodiliness, in the very language of a certain kind of ethical thinking: “in place of the command to treat all human life as of equal worth, [Singer] … offers [the principle]: Recognize that the worth of human life varies.”10 Thus both these expressions have a kind of moral “extrinsicism” about them. The first says that we are “to treat all human life as of equal worth”; but in actual fact, if human life is not of equal worth, how can it be treated so, except by some kind of external “command.” This, therefore, is not a rejection of the value of a command; rather, it is a matter of asking what, in a sense, is the command making explicit? What, then, determines the intrinsic value of human life that provides the ontological foundation of the command “to treat all human life as of equal worth?” On the one hand, there is the action of God (cf. Humanae Vitae, 13). On the other hand, there is the reality of the inseparability of the bodily expression of human personhood from the action of God, which has brought the human person into existence. Thus the “command to treat all human life as of equal worth” is an expression of the ontological reality that human life “is of equal worth.”

Singer’s position, then, “Recognize that the worth of human life varies,” is equally disembodied. It does not begin with the intrinsic reality that each one of us is radically equal in virtue of having been given the gift of life. Singer, therefore, espouses a moral position which depends on an extrinsic calculation which, inevitably, “fails” to express anything about the actual human person perceived. Thus, in Singer’s view, everything depends on the person perceiving and, as such, everything depends on that person’s determination of “the worth” of the “patient” on the basis of functional, economic, or evaluative registers about his or her experience of life.

Another aspect of this philosophical tendency is seen, however inadvertently, in the following expression: “the body is human because it is animated by a spiritual soul: it is what it is because it receives the ontological structure of humanity from the spiritual principle.”11 In other words, it is agreed that the “ontological structure of humanity” is determined by the “spiritual principle.” However, the body is human both because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and because it is intrinsically human. The bodily expression of the human person is intrinsically human, however, in that the person has received the human inheritance of the human race through the reception of the human gametes of sperm and egg. Thus, while the human gametes do not exhaust the origin of the human person, nevertheless, there is a real contribution to the humanity of the human being through the very gift of humanity in its transmissible form, namely that of human sperm and human egg.

At the same time, however, it must be considered as essential to the relational dynamic of human development that the child is conceived within marital love, and begins to receive the necessary nurture in the natural environment of the mother’s womb. In addition, then, but not as a mathematical add-on, the child is conceived, and develops in the context of the intra-marital dialogue of husband and wife and, if present, the presence of other siblings, relatives, and members of the human family.

A theological tendency to reject the integrity of human personhood (IIiii)
The theological tendency to reject the bodily nature of human existence is expressed in the view that “God is the one who imposes order, meaning and purpose on the whole creation.”12 In other words, it is in the very language that “God … imposes order, meaning, and purpose on the whole creation” that the error of extrinsicism shows itself.13 While I completely agree, however, with the relational nature of human personhood, which Wyatt is advancing, where he says we are “persons-in-community,”14 I argue that this is only possible because God creates us in the midst of His being. Each one of us is, like Adam and Eve, created in an ontological relationship with the Blessed Trinity. It is true, in one sense then, that “[w]e derive our meaning from outside ourselves, from God, in whose image we are made,”15 in that God is the mystery who ultimately grounds the meaningful structure of our being; but, in another sense, the meaning, order, and purpose of our existence is rooted in being created in a real relationship to the unoriginate origin of God. Thus, meaning, order, and purpose are in fact integral to our entire, bodily-expressed, personal existence.16

Conversion to the Genuine Good of the Human Race (III)
Conversion is existential; it is theological, philosophical, and psychological;. Essentially, conversion is a return to the foundations of human personhood: to a recognition of the reality of our existence in God. Conversion, then, is primarily an expression of a renewed relationship to the Blessed Trinity: to God the creator, to His Son Jesus Christ, who redeems us, and to the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies us. Believing that if God created all that exists out of nothing, He can give new life to the sinner (cf. CCC, 298)17 as a gift which re-establishes in the believer the relationship of “life” from “life” which God has brought to exist from the beginning. On the basis of this gift of belief, I hoped in the help of the Lord and, in contrast to being unable to marry, I married, and we now have ten children, two of whom are with a third child of mine in heaven.

Conversion is also about recognizing the call of reality; and, just as it is possible to receive faith from Almighty God, it is also possible to receive the gift of created existence as the “premise” from which all human thought proceeds.18 In another sense, however, existence is the premise from which all thought proceeds, in that it is that which prompts thought. However, just as our natural grasp of the existence of God can be aided by divine assistance (cf. Dei Verbum, 6), so can recognizing that existence is prior to thought being aided by divine assistance. The premise of our particular existence, however, is that each one of us is an indivisible being: a bodily expressed person. Indeed, it is the very difficulty of grasping what we are that leads many people to claim that we are “nothing but” bodily beings.19

Psychology is inscribed in biology
The very claim, though, that we are “nothing but” bodily beings entails a contradiction. On the one hand, if we were a “purely” bodily, biological being, then we would be an animal in the animal kingdom. And, as an animal in the animal kingdom, we would exist in a relationship to the environment, and to each other which is characteristic of all animals: a kind of immersion in the immediate requirements of existence, movement, nutrition, growth, and reproduction. On the other hand, the very claim that we are “nothing but” bodily biological beings is completely contradicted, then, by the expression”‘that we are ‘nothing but’ bodily biological beings.” In other words, just as the sperm and the egg which, prior to coming together, cannot develop, and do not think, so a bodily being, that was to be exclusively derived from them, would neither be able to develop, nor to think. The evidence, then, for those who are able to recognize it, is that the very roots of human being witness to the existence of an “immanent cause”: a cause within the very nature of the bodily being which has come to exist, and which explains, precisely, the reality of being a bodily expressed person. This “immanent cause” of the body being a manifestation of the person is traditionally identified as the soul; and, just as the person is one in body and soul (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 14), so the cause of the whole person is, therefore, God. In other words, both the existence of the soul being present in the bodily being of the person, as well as their indivisibility constituting human personhood, is an expression of procreation entailing God’s individual act of the creation of each one of us.

This act of the creation of each one of us is, however, founded on the original act of creation which began the procession of contributing causes. In other words, it is through the original act of creation that God founded the participation of the parents’ reciprocal self-gift in the act of procreation by which each son and daughter comes to exist. Thus, each child of Adam and Eve is an expression, in the flesh of human existence, of the co-operative coming to be which manifests the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. In other words, it is precisely in the flesh of human existence that the personal meaning, order, and goal of human personhood is made manifest: the dignity of being co-creators of each human being manifests, ultimately, the mystery of the Blessed Trinity’s act of creating each one of us.

Our bodily being, ultimately, is not only intelligible psychologically, philosophically, and theologically, but it is also an embodied relationality; and, therefore, we need to begin again with the evidence of the reality that actually manifests what we are: a bioethically human word. Thus our task, as it were, is showing the inscrutable unity of the human person to be indescribably real: an “inner-outworking” of the psychologically inscribed, biologically-unfolding, social expression of being a person-in-relationship: of being a son or a daughter. Just as the actual developmental stages of the embryonic human person are a marvelously orchestrated, increasingly evident “visibilization” of the presence of the child, so the psychological development unfolds further, as it were, the whole relational dynamic which, in turn, both stimulates bodily development, and makes increasingly obvious that the child is, in fact, a person.

In conclusion
Considering the outward expression of the interiority of human beings makes it possible to see that psychological development is inscribed in the very process of biological development. So, even if there are real and profound developmental difficulties in the unfolding of human development, everyday experience of the actual development of children makes it clear that there is a desire to communicate the interiority of their human being; and, therefore, just as a mother and a father look forward to meeting their child, so does the child manifest the communication of his or her interiority, and so confirms, as it were, the goal of a “being-in-relationship” characteristic present in every human person.

  1. Cf. Donum vitae, Introduction, 1.
  2.  The more specialized aspects of bioethics have numerous proponents, one of which has some very good reviews and includes writing which bears on this more general, but absolutely necessary, search for human wisdom (cf. John Wyatt, Matters of Life and Death: Human dilemmas in the light of the Christian faith, Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2009). Although, then, this essay is not a book review, I nevertheless acknowledge that Wyatt has written an excellent account of the heart-rending nature of extremely challenging bioethical questions (cf. Wyatt, Matters of Life and Death, pp. 15-24). Nevertheless, as simple as it is, there is a universal equality established by the very reality of the gift: that each person is radically equal in being in receipt of the gift of life. I note, in passing, however, that Wyatt does not exclude in vitro fertilization. On the one hand, his principle is laudable, namely to help a married couple to conceive; but, on the other hand, there is the problem of rupturing the inviolable relationship of the marriage act to conception (cf. Wyatt, Matters of Life and Death, p. 103: he does, however, acknowledge a variety of problems with IVF).
  3. Cf. Wyatt, Matters of Life and Death, pp. 25-49.
  4. Cf. Elio Sgreccia, Personalist Bioethics: Foundations and Applications, translated by John Camillo and Michael Miller, Philadelphia: The National Catholic Bioethics Center (of America), 2012, pp. 390-391, etc.
  6. Elio Sgreccia, Personalist Bioethics: Foundations and Applications, p. 113 but also p. 112.
  7. Cf. Francis Etheredge, Chapter 12, pp. 304-305 and other chapters in the book, Scripture: A Unique Word, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014; but also cf. the summary of this argument in the article published in the National Catholic Bioethical Quarterly (of America), “The Mysterious Instant of Conception”, Vol. 12, No. 3, Autumn 2012.
  8. Elio Sgreccia, Personalist Bioethics: Foundations and Applications, p. 424, footnote 12: the text is indented and is thus given as an extract from “Identita e statuto dell’embrione umano,” supplement, Medicina e Morale 39, no. 4 (1989): 665-666.
  9. Cf. Sgreccia, Personalist Bioethics: Foundations and Applications, pp. 522-523.
  10. Wyatt, Matters of Life and Death, p. 45.
  11. Sgreccia, Personalist Bioethics: Foundations and Applications, p. 116.
  12. Wyatt, Matters of Life and Death, p. 53.
  13. Cf. also Wyatt, Matters of Life and Death, p. 55: “We derive our meaning from outside ourselves, from God, in whose image we are made.”
  14. Wyatt, Matters of Life and Death, p. 59.
  15. Wyatt, Matters of Life and Death, p. 55.
  16. Cf. Wyatt, Matters of Life and Death, p. 59: at this point Wyatt says, indicating a more ontological expression of what exists “in us”, “So, our creation in God’s image is both a reflection of what we are, in the stuff of our beings, and also a promise of what by God’s grace we are to become.”
  17. CCC = Catechism of the Catholic Church, followed by the paragraph number.
  18. Cf. Bishop, now Cardinal, Angelo Scola, page 7: “The Nuptial Mystery at the Heart of the Church” (Oxford Catholic Chaplaincy, 21 March, 1998).
  19. Wyatt, Matters of Life and Death, p. 27; but cf. also Cf. Evelyne Shuster, “Fifty Years Later: The Significance of the Nuremberg Code”, New England Journal of Medicine, 1997; 337: 1436-1440: (Source Information: From the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University and Woodland Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19104): At the Nuremburg ‘Doctor’s Trial’ it was heard that experiments on human beings were justified by the belief that human beings were ‘biologic’ creatures.
Francis Etheredge About Francis Etheredge

Mr. Francis Etheredge is married with eight children, plus three in heaven. He is the author of Scripture: A Unique Word and a trilogy, From Truth and Truth (Cambridge Scholars Publishing); The Human Person: A Bioethical Word (En Route Books & Media, 2017), with forewords from eight writers; The Family on Pilgrimage: God Leads Through Dead Ends (2018); and Conception: An Icon of the Beginning, with contributions from ten other authors, as well as The Prayerful Kiss (2019); Mary and Bioethics: An Exploration (2020); Honest Rust and Gold: A Second Collection of Prose and Poetry (2020), Within Reach of You: A Book of Prose and Prayers (2021), Unfolding a Post-Roe World (2022), Reaching for the Resurrection: A Pastoral Bioethics (2022), Human Nature: Moral Norm, Lord, Do You Mean Me? A Father-Catechist! (2023), A Word in your Heart: Youth, Mental Health, and the Word of God (2023), and An Unlikely Gardener: Prose and Poems.

Francis is currently a freelance writer and speaker and his “posts” on LinkedIn can be viewed here. A radio interview can be heard here.

He has earned a BA Div (Hons), MA in Catholic Theology, PGC in Biblical Studies, PGC in Higher Education, and an MA in Marriage and Family (Distinction). He is a collaborator of the Dignitas Personae Institute for Nascent Human Life.


  1. Avatar Francis Etheredge says:

    This article is the lead in an upcoming book entitled The Human Person is a Bioethical Word to be published by En Route Books and Media located at There are eight people contributing Forewords to this book: Dr. Mary Anne Urlakis is writing the Foreword to the whole book; the Foreword to Chapter 1 is being written by Dr. Joseph Meaney; the Foreword to Chapter 2 is by Mrs Adriana Vasquez; the Foreword to Chapter 3 is by Dr. Anthony Williams; the Foreword to Chapter 4 is by Dr. Elizabeth Rex; the Foreword to Chapter 5 is by Kathleen Sweeney; the Foreword to Chapter 6 is by the Rev. Dr. Richard Conrad, OP; and the Foreword to Chapter 7 is by the Rev. Dr. Dr. Ralph Weimann.