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October 29, 2004
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v2.1 Reference

Contemporary Catholic Health Care Ethics

As David Kelly writes, "Catholic moral theology has not been completely constant over the centuries; it has learned and developed." In Contemporary Catholic Health Care Ethics he demonstrates how Catholic health care ethics can—and should—evolve similarly in response to the lightning speed of modern medical advances. Kelly draws on and analyzes the Catholic tradition of medical ethics—but he does not shy away from criticizing it as well, giving health care professionals, hospital ethics committees, and students a fresh treatment of Catholic health care ethics emphasizing theology, methodology, and application.

First discussing the Catholic understanding of the human person, Kelly proposes a Catholic Christian approach to the meaning of human life as it applies specifically to health care. He includes a brief history of the relationship between religion and medicine, and makes strong claims about how theology ought and ought not to be applied in health care ethics. Drawing from the terminology and approaches used by secular bioethics, he suggests how a Catholic perspective on health care can utilize certain secular moral-philosophical positions, even as they apply to the issues of birth control, and end-of life concerns. As practitioners, patients, and families face the difficult decision to continue or stop treatment for dying patients, Kelly compassionately, but practically, explores their concerns in light of American law and ethics. Finally, he provides measured insight on pain management, hospital ethics committees, stem cell research, genetic engineering, and allocation of health care resources.

Contemporary Catholic Health Care Ethics is informed, challenging, articulate, and bold—bringing to the extremely important field of Catholic health care ethics a much-needed and welcome voice, unafraid to speak to the most difficult issues of the 21st century.

About the Author

David F. Kelly is the Vernon F. Gallagher Professor of Theology and Health Care Ethics and director of the Health Care Ethics Center at Duquesne University. He has studied in Louvain, Belgium, and in Toronto and has garnered much practical experience from his work at St. Francis and Mercy Hospitals in Pittsburgh.


"Every bioethicist should read Contemporary Catholic Health Care Ethics. . . . Its worth comes from exemplifying a re-engagement with ethical theory, religious principles, and spiritual thinking that is missing from contemporary bioethics in the United States."—Medical Humanities Review

"I warmly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Roman Catholic way of thinking about questions in the field of medical ethics."—Ethics and Medicine


"David F. Kelly brings many significant strengths to this book—a broad and deep understanding of the Catholic theological-ethical tradition, a perceptive dialogue with a vast amount of bioethical literature, a sharp, clear, and perceptive mind, and a very engaging pedagogical style. The book very competently and comprehensively deals with both theological-ethical methods and with all the significant practical issues in bioethics today. This is the one book I would use as a textbook in Catholic bioethics."—Charles E. Curran, author of Catholic Social Teaching, 1891-Present

"More than an introduction to bioethics, this work acquaints the reader with the major debates in Catholic moral theology since Vatican II. Kelly is erudite, careful, and lucid. He is also willing to challenge received views and is not afraid to take on hard dilemmas created by the U.S. health care and legal systems. The final chapter on health resource allocation is particularly incisive, orderly, and sane. A superb and provocative text for a Catholic seminary or college, Contemporary Catholic Health Care Ethics will also serve as a tremendous resource for ethicists and health care professionals."—Lisa Sowle Cahill, Monan Professor of Theology, Boston College

"David Kelly has done the Catholic bioethics community a huge service by providing this lucid, thoughtful, humorous, and ethically sophisticated presentation of both ethical theories and thematic issues in bioethics. Kelly writes in a clear and thoughtful style and his analysis is crisp, refreshingly honest, and reflective of his many years of experience in a hospital setting. Everyone will benefit from reading his excellent presentation of bioethics from the Catholic perspective."—Thomas A. Shannon, professor of religion and social ethics, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

"David Kelly is straightforward in his claim to a specifically Catholic contribution to biomedical ethics, particularly in reference to the development of moral method. Yet, he is honestly critical about the same tradition that could be both ambiguous and confusing (especially about the regulation of fertility). More important, however, is that Kelly takes the tradition to the next step, not in coming up with 'answers', but in providing a framework for informed and reasonable analysis and decision-making in health care issues."—Joseph Selling, professor of moral theology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

"David Kelly has written a very comprehensive text on Catholic health care ethics. The volume includes material on theology, methodology, and application to current issues in health care from the Catholic perspective, and without a doubt it will serve as an important text for students and as a resource for practitioners."—James J. Walter, Director of The Bioethics Institute, Loyola Marymount University

Georgetown University Press

9781589010307 : contemporary-catholic-health-care-ethics-kelly
Paperback / softback
368 Pages
$39.95 USD

Other Titles by David F. Kelly

Contemporary Catholic Health Care Ethics, Second Edition

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Medical Care at the End of Life

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