Georgetown Bioethicist to Advise Pontifical Council

Posted in News Release

WASHINGTON (JULY 24, 2014 ) — Kevin FitzGerald, PhD, SJ, a Jesuit priest, Georgetown bioethicist and cancer researcher, has been appointed by Pope Francis to serve as a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Culture.

FitzGerald, a research associate professor in the department of oncology and the David P. Lauler Chair for Catholic Health Care Ethics at Georgetown University Medical Center, began his five-year term July 1 as one of 34 newly appointed consultors from around the world.

Established in 1982 by Pope John Paul II, the Pontifical Council for Culture is one of 12 councils established to study a variety of issues deemed of importance to the Catholic Church, and to provide guidance to the Pope on such matters.

FitzGerald will be advising the Council on areas of growing global scientific interest, including bioethics, genetics, neuroscience and transhumanism, which refers to a movement that seeks to transcend the human condition through technology, artificial intelligence and other related concepts.

As both a Jesuit priest and a scientist, FitzGerald says he is fortunate to sit squarely “at the intersection between science and the Catholic tradition.”

“The prevailing view is that religion and science are fundamentally at odds with one another, but I argue that they are not at all. They are both necessary and important lenses for viewing the important issues of our time,” he says.

This appointment, FitzGerald says, builds on his decades of work to improve global understanding of the important interconnections between science, religion and culture. He has served since 2005 as a corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, which is mainly focused on research into bioethical issues as they pertain to human life.

“Science and religion touch all of us in some way. Whether you are Catholic or not, the goal is to work towards a greater synergy for the good of all people,” FitzGerald says.

Besides making himself available for consultations as needed, FitzGerald will be asked to participate in international conferences and research publications on topics of interest to the Vatican that fall within his areas of expertise, according to Richard Rouse, an official to the Pontifical Council for Culture, based in Rome.

“It’s not just the scientific expertise that Fr. FitzGerald brings, but also the ability to translate that knowledge into language that is accessible to the people around the world that the Church is trying to reach,” Rouse says.

“It’s also very forward looking. We want him to help us identify those issues that are, not just important now, but about to be very important,” Rouse continues. “The Council brings forth recommendations that send strong messages to the world.”

About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health).  GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis — or “care of the whole person.”  The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization, which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health.