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Bioethics: where faith meets science

St. Thomas University offers master’s degree with focus on human life, the environment

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MIAMI | For the third year in a row, St. Thomas University is offering a master’s degree in bioethics.

The program looks at topics such as gender ideology, in vitro fertilization, euthanasia, assisted suicide and respect for the environment from the perspective of Church teachings and the Catholic faith.

Father Alfred Cioffi helps students conduct biology experiments during a lab class at St. Thomas University in 2016.

Photographer: TOM TRACY | File

Father Alfred Cioffi helps students conduct biology experiments during a lab class at St. Thomas University in 2016.

Bioethics encompasses these controversial topics because it set the norms of what should and should not be done in the natural sciences and their corresponding technologies.

“In bioethics, the dialogue between science and religion is essential to finding solutions in keeping with nature and the will of God, because the truth cannot contradict itself,” said Father Alfred Cioffi, director of the Master in Bioethics program at the university, which is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Miami and located in Miami Gardens.

The Catholic Church teaches many things about human life, health care and concern for creation on this planet, “our common home.”

“Really, if we pay attention, bioethics is everywhere in our daily lives. We were all conceived and grew during our first nine months of life in our mother’s wombs. Today there are many medical exams that detect fetal abnormalities, or potential susceptibility to cancer. However, we don’t have the right to ‘purify’ the species by eliminating those who are weakest,” Father Cioffi said.

Regarding the environment, he noted that undoubtedly, the world is experiencing climate change, a loss in biodiversity, deforestation and increased acidity in the oceans. How do we analyze those complicated topics in the light of our faith? Not to mention simpler topics, such as the need to recycle our waste, and more complex ones such as finding sources of energy to replace fossil fuels.

St. Thomas’ bioethics program is geared toward those who want to deepen their knowledge of the faith as well as those who want to obtain a master’s degree.

Such a pursuit might yield some surprises, as it did for Henry García. After graduating from the program two years ago, he now teaches medical bioethics to students in St. Thomas’ nursing program. He and his wife also coordinate marriage preparation at their parish, St. Raymond in Miami.

García said the bioethics program “gives you a very in-depth perspective on the human person — from conception, the scientific part, to fertilization, to all the evolutionary processes of the embryo. It’s all based on Judeo-Christian anthropology. It’s very interesting from whatever point of view it’s looked at.”

Classes at St. Thomas begin at the end of August, and some spaces remain in the bioethics program. For information, call 786-489-9369, or email: [email protected].

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