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Document Details :
Title: Jewish and Roman Catholic Approaches to Bioethics
Subtitle: Convergence and Divergence in Method and Substance
Author(s): MACKLER, Aaron L.
Journal: Louvain Studies
Volume: 25 Issue: 1 Date: spring 2000
One of the classic, if apocryphal, narratives about comparisons of religious traditions is related by Protestant ethicist James Gustafson. Three speakers were asked to offer Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant perspectives on a particular moral issue. The priest began, 'The Church teaches that...' The rabbi began, 'The tradition teaches that...' And the Protestant minister began, 'Well, now I think that...'
A second anecdote arises from my work with an interdisciplinary and interreligious commission that addresses issues of bioethics and public policy. A Catholic attorney reported half-jokingly that he had asked his bishop what he might do if an issue arose for which he was uncertain about Catholic teaching. 'If you want to know the Catholic position,' he was told, 'follow Rabbi Bleich,' a very traditionalist Jewish commissioner.
I use these anecdotes to illustrate three points. First, even an over-simplified account can be instructive. A full analysis of Jewish and Roman Catholic approaches to bioethics would require volumes. This account necessarily involves some broad strokes and simplifications. Nonetheless, I believe it conveys some general characteristics that are, if not absolute, generally accurate, important, and instructive.