Mary and Bioethics: An Exploration

by Francis Etheredge

Whether it is the problem of pain, the messiness of our relationships or the confusion circulating about human identity, it is possible to think that we do not have anything to learn from the Virgin Mary, spouse of St. Joseph and Mother of the Lord, regarding our understanding of the human race; indeed, that Mary is somehow superficial to who we are as human beings and is a kind of devotional addition to her son Jesus Christ. However, considering the nature of woman opens upon a vision of the gift of human being as fundamentally ordered to relationship. The reality of men and women, neither exalted nor diminished, is discovered to be a gift-to-be-gratefully received; and, on reflection, this turns out to be a necessary redress of the many imbalances in the self-understanding of our times. In other words, reflecting on Mary, the Mother of the Lord, yields a foundational insight into the very moment of human conception, a clearer perception of human participation in the mystery of redemption and, at the same time, a fountain of insights concerning many of the bio-ethical problems of our time.

The book is woven through, from beginning to end, with a variety of contributions, a number of which contain the gems of faith-enriched-experience: the General Foreword is by Dr. Anthony Williams, with introductions to each of the seven chapters by Dr. Mary Anne Urlakis, Maria Maffucci, Laura Elm, Edmund Adamus, Dr. Michal Pruski, Dr. Moira McQueen and Leah Palmer, followed by an End Word by Bishop John Keenan of Paisley, Scotland.

Paperback: $19.95 | Kindle $9.99

CONTENTS

Acknowledgements

General Foreword by Dr. Anthony Williams

Prologue: Pain in the “Biological Family”; “Soma: a Holiday from Reality”; and “Mary and Bioethics”

General Introductions to Each Chapter of the Book: Chapters One to Seven

Foreword to Chapter 1: Dr. Mary Anne Urlakis 

Chapter One: The Holy Family: Celibacy and Marriage: A Reflection on the “Passage” from the Jewish Rite of Marriage to the Christian Sacrament of Marriage:

General Introduction: Background: Continuity between the Old and the New Covenant; A new Appreciation of the Transformation of Marriage; Background: Scripture and Marriage

The Book of Tobit (I); Christ and the Covenant (II); The Marriage of Mary and Joseph (III); Christ and His vocation to Celibacy (IV): Cornelius and his family (V); Conclusion.

Foreword to Chapter 2: Maria McFadden Maffucci

Chapter Two: Part I of a Marian Triptych: Mary is the Choice of God:

My interest in whether or not there needs to be a new Dogmatic Statement on the Mystery of Mary (I); Mary ‘Gate of Heaven’ (II); Sharers in the Suffering of Christ (III); Some Objections to this Point of View (IV); and Conclusion (V).

Foreword to Chapter 3: Laura Elm

Chapter Three: Part II of a Marian Triptych: Our Hope in Mary:

Hope in the Reality of the Holy Family (I); The Definition of Hope and the Coming of Christ (II); How many Hopes Appear to us as Impossible?! (III); How Does Mary Help us to Hope? (IV); Two Objections to our Hope in Mary (V); Conclusion.

Foreword to Chapter 4: Edmund Adamus

Chapter Four: Part III of a Marian Triptych: Mary and Prayer:

The Emergence of Mary (I); Mary and the Prayer of the Church (II); Marian Prayer and the Covenant: The Conversation of Conversion (III)

Foreword to Chapter 5: Dr. Michal Pruski

Chapter Five: The First Instant of Mary’s Ensoulment:

Introduction: Two Possible Meanings of the One Reality of Human Conception; The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception: Two Instants or One Moment? (I); The Help of the Doctrine of Original Sin (II); A Discrepancy Between the Implied First Instant of Fertilization in the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception and the Definition of Conception in the English Translation of Donum Vitae (III); Conclusion: The Need for a More Precise Definition of Human Conception in the Documents of the Church

Foreword to Chapter 6: Dr. Moira McQueen

Chapter Six: Mary and Bioethics:

Introduction: Being-in-Relationship; Man, male and female, Christ and Mary (I); Mary and Bioethics (II); Mary and Gender Ideology (III); Marriage and Parenting: A Dynamic Conclusion

Foreword to Chapter 7: Leah Palmer

Chapter Seven: Love, Scripture, Suffering and Bioethical Questions:

The command to “Be fruitful and multiply” and the Cross of Infertility (I); The Biblical Account of the Suffering of Infertility (II); and, finally, Love and Bioethics (III)

Epilogue: The manufacture of children and the reality of relationship; Biblical prophecy and the Church’s criticism of fathers; Is there a way back to the future of marriage and family life?; Reasonable and graced humility; The radical originality of God

An End Word: A New Beginning – by Bishop John Keenan of Paisley, Scotland

Author Articles

“Conception: A Contradiction?” by Francis Etheredge, Homiletics and Pastoral Review (December 11, 2020), available here.

Reviews

Pia Matthews, Faith. (May 1, 2021.) Read the review here.

Fr. Aidan Nichols, Homiletic and Pastoral Review. (March 12, 2021.) Read the review here.

Dr. Pia Matthews, Senior Lecturer, St Mary’s University Twickenham, England, “Profiles in Catholicism”. (January 11, 2021.) Read the review here.

Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight, “Profiles in Catholicism”. (October 5, 2020) Read the review here.

Testimonials

“This starting point for bioethical questions strikes me as refreshing, but not because it is new; to the contrary, it is original. … Francis Etheredge begins Mary and Bioethics with a concern that too many bioethical questions lack an adequate foundation and aim, instead, toward technical innovation (6)….Etheredge rightly laments, “Our times … are losing the wisdom of waiting and many bioethical problems are arising out of this impatience which has gone beyond being personal and become a kind of epidemic ….It is almost as there is a kind of maternity waiting to be recovered – not just the maternity of motherhood but the motherhood of waiting on God” (19). From this perspective, we can see that Mary as an exemplar provides us with a better foundation of embodied human being than does any merely technically innovative model. Precisely, Marian piety calls our attention to the holy family, which reminds us of our own families as the origin of our individual and communal lives. The family is the place where suffering is lived rather than merely solved. This starting point for bioethical questions strikes me as refreshing, but not because it is new; to the contrary, it is original’.” — an extract from a review by Colten P. Maertens-Pizzo in The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Vol. 21, Issue 1, Spring 2021, pp. 174-177 (click here for the review)

“This is a book I likely would not have encountered had the author not sent it to me–I do not have a deep Marian piety; further, I am neither Catholic, nor am I a bioethicist. I am blessed by the encounter! This book is different in several ways. It mixes the personal with the academic in an engaging style. It integrates subjects–biblical studies, Catholic moral and fundamental theology, and bioethics–usually kept strictly siloed (at least in my world). It strives to speak to both head and heart on an issue of fundamental importance and sensitivity, avoiding both sterility and sentimentalism. Believers comfortable with the language of Scripture and Tradition on the subject of Life will find their views ably defended even as they are invited to look at the science. Believers who tend toward natural law arguments (here’s where I fall), will be reminded of the depth of spiritual resources at their disposal. I warmly recommend this text to a wide readership and hope it does not remain exclusively within Catholic pro-life circles.” — Rev. Dr. Tim Perry is adjunct Professor of theology at Saint Paul University, Ottawa and Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge

“‘When Francis gave me his book Mary and Bioethics, I can’t say that I felt terribly enthusiastic about reading it. I felt it would be far too theological and difficult for me to understand. So it was with some trepidation that I did so. However, I found it a sensitive and very interesting read. In fact, I read it twice to fully comprehend all the insights of Francis’ study of the subject. I certainly found a deeper understanding of the amazing role Mary has played, and is still playing, in the life of the Church and the world. Through her, the Church expands its knowledge and understanding of Salvation History. Mary is a mother for Jesus and for us. Francis shows a well-informed understanding of how Mary brings us to Jesus. The science of bioethics is very well described, giving many new insights and showing how some treatments are ethical and others are not. True Christian Marriage is discussed and explained in a very beautiful way, and the whole book is interspersed with some very moving testimonies of peoples’ lives. It is a very readable and interesting book.” – Clare Hill, Midwife and Nurse

“With depth and clarity Francis Etheredge in Mary and Bioethics: An Exploration shows how theological appreciation of Mary’s role in the Incarnation can illumine our understanding of many issues in bioethics. The suffering that leads to such technological solutions is not evaded. Introductory segments to each chapter also show its relevance to life. An authoritative and perceptive work—highly recommended. — Mary Shivanandan, STD, author of Holy Family Model Not Exception

Mary and Bioethics is a unique and timely tome. In a world where we’ve forgotten what it means to be human, what it means to be a man-father or woman-mother, a world grown cold that treats human life as a commodity, a ‘throwaway’ culture, Mary helps us rediscover our dignity! Mary herself is a Catechism. If we can learn to read her–‘our tainted nature’s solitary boast’–we will not only grow in self-understanding, but feel the warmth of her love for us.” — Sr. Helena Raphael Burns, fsp, Theology of the Body presenter, @SrHelenaBurns

“From a secular perspective, bioethics cannot be more disconnected from Mary; however, from that of the Catholic Christian, Mary is none other than the Mother of all the Living. In Mary and Bioethics, Francis Etheredge provides a well-researched and referenced interlace between Mariology and bioethics. Etheredge shows that bioethics lacking a Marian view, accepting life as a divine gift, is fundamentally ill-equipped to respond to human suffering genuinely and compassionately.”  — Eric Manuel Torres, BHlthSci & MOrthoptics (LaTrobe), MNSc (Melb), GradDipTheol (CTC/UDiv), MTS (CTC/UDiv), AOBR, MOA, RN, Assoc. Member CMAV. Melbourne based Catholic moral theologian and bioethicist.

“In Mary and Bioethics, Francis Etheredge has assembled the leading global Mariologists whose contributions sear the soul with inspired insights into the life, heart and soul of our mother Mary that one will remember forever and which wonderfully complement his work.” — Gordon Nary, Editor, Profiles in Catholicism

“This insightful book urges a novel anthropological approach to the complex issues surrounding marriage, the family, bioethics, and the frantic search for fulfilment that characterizes many societies today. It is in Mary, who alone fully corresponded to God’s design for humanity, and was ever open to grace, that we find the best response to those who would seek their self-realization in a radical affirmation of personal liberty. In place of an illusory freedom that reduces us to biologically determined entities, Mary offers us a vision of life, of the human person, as gift, a gift from God to which we may respond in kind, transforming our perspective as we face the multiple challenges of this topsy-turvy world. In place of manufactured solutions to the human condition – whether gender reassignment, abortion, genetic manipulation, in-vitro fertilization – Mary’s radical choice of God, even in the face of unimaginable challenges, shows us how we can transcend our sense of helplessness by recognizing that it is precisely in our limitedness as creatures that we can discover our infinite potential as children of God.” – Brian K Reynolds, Fu Jen Catholic University, Author of Gateway to Heaven: Marian Doctrine and Devotion in the Patristic and Medieval Periods

“Francis Etheredge masterfully demonstrates that without recourse to God, bioethics is ultimately without meaning. Worse still, it is destined to endorse a culture of death in the face of human suffering. How much we have to learn about human life as a Divine gift especially from Mary, Seat of Wisdom and Mediatrix of all Graces!” — Dr. Pravin Thevathasan, MB.BS, MRPsych, MSc (Medical Ethics), Consultant Psychiatrist and Editor, Catholic Medical Quarterly

“Francis Etheredge has inspired us to look to the Blessed Mother—particularly in and through her Immaculate Conception—as reason and hope for our greater understanding of ensoulment. Contributing to the understanding of when a human being—body and soul—comes to be is critically important when it comes to ethical implications of experimentations and procedures in the fields of biology, biotechnology, infertility, etc. as they relate to the dignity of the human person and the preservation and aid of human life. Mary was God’s choice to bring about the Incarnation of Christ. Etheredge proposes that we have far more to glean and appreciate from this “Gate of Heaven”, as she is called, in our quest for identifying the beginnings of our personhood, accepting the gifts and calling of our gender, and understanding the significance and relevance of marriage between one man and one woman and its corresponding correlation to Christ’s spousal relationship to his Church.” — Kimberly Bruce has an M.A. in Theology in Apologetics. She is a Catholic author and speaker.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Francis Etheredge is married with eleven children, three of whom are in heaven. Marriage and family life are a work of graced nature: a single reality which has a history and is a vocation. Through sharing his life, Francis hopes that others will discover the God who comes to help.

Francis is the author of Scripture: A Unique Word, and a trilogy From Truth and Truth (Volume I-“Faithful Reason”; Volume II-“Faith and Reason in Dialogue”; Volume III-“Faith Is Married Reason”), all of which are published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing; The Human Person: A Bioethical Word, The Family on Pilgrimage: God Leads through Dead EndsThe Prayerful Kiss, Conception: An Icon of the Beginning, Mary and Bioethics: An Exploration, and Honest Rust and Gold: A Second Collection of Prose and Poetry, all of which are published by En Route Books and Media.

See Francis’ other books, too, entitled Scripture: A Unique WordFrom Truth and truth: Volume I-Faithful ReasonFrom Truth and truth: Volume II: Faith and Reason in DialogueFrom Truth and truth: Volume III: Faith is Married Reason.

Francis is currently a freelance writer and speaker and his “Posts” on LinkedIn can be viewed here. Poetry; short articles; autobiographical blog; excerpts from books; and “Philosophize: A Ten Minute Write.”

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).

Enjoy these additional articles by Francis Etheredge:

Philosophy begins in Wonder

Philosophy begins in Wonder

Philosophy Begins in Wonder by Stephen D. Schwarz with Kiki Latimer This book is the compilation of over fifty years of teaching Ethics, Metaphysics, Epistemology, Philosophy of the Person, and Virtue Ethics in the classroom setting. Philosophy Begins in Wonder offers...

read more
The Gender Link to the Human Soul by Kimberly Bruce

The Gender Link to the Human Soul by Kimberly Bruce

The Gender Link to the Human Soul by Kimberly Bruce The Gender Link to the Human Soul establishes gender as an element of the soul retained in this life and for all eternity. This is demonstrated in the brilliant philosophical insights of Thomas Aquinas and John Paul...

read more
The Gender Link to the Human Soul by Kimberly Bruce

The ABCQ of Conception

The ABCQ of Conception by Francis Etheredge This book by Francis Etheredge is a catechesis on conception. A catechesis on the first instant of fertilization both follows from and entails an introduction to faith and reason as they help us to understand what is...

read more
The Gender Link to the Human Soul by Kimberly Bruce

History of Peter

History of Peter by Roger Skrenes Peter is spoken of 195 times in the New Testament, twice as many times as all the other Apostles combined. Today when Peter is discussed, however, what is most often emphasized is the erratic or sinful side of his personality. Jesus...

read more
Peter and Wendy

Peter and Wendy

Peter and Wendy: Growing Up in Neverland by Dennis Billy, C.Ss.R. This book looks at J. M. Barrie's classic children's story Peter Pan to see what it can tell us about ourselves and our situation today. It discovers in this classic fairy-tale about the boy from...

read more
Weeds Among Wheat

Weeds Among Wheat

Weeds Among Wheat: L'Arche and the Tainted Legacy of Jean Vanier by Dennis Billy, C.Ss.R. This book is about baking the bread of Christian community from the grains of our broken humanity. It is primarily concerned with distinguishing L'Arche's authentic spirituality...

read more
The Fallen Angel Model: Deeper into the Mysteries

The Fallen Angel Model: Deeper into the Mysteries

Presenting The Fallen Angel Model at the Robson Ranch LibraryThe Fallen Angel Model: Deeper into the Mysteries by Joe P. Provenzano, Ron D. Morgan, and Dan R. Provenzano Modern science tells us that our “physical” universe began in a highly ordered, but unstable,...

read more
Discovering the Fullness of Reality by Dr. David J. Keys

Discovering the Fullness of Reality by Dr. David J. Keys

Discovering the Fullness of Reality: How Partial Truths Obscure the Union of Faith and Science by Dr. David J. Keys “Is there a transcendent element to Human Life?” In pursuit of an answer, Keys presents to the reader both things of the world which exist, affirming...

read more
How to Listen & How to Speak by Dr. Peter Redpath

How to Listen & How to Speak by Dr. Peter Redpath

How to Listen & How to Speak: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants to Renew Commonsense and Uncommonsense Wisdom in the Contemporary World by Dr. Peter Redpath Mortimer Adler stood on the metaphysical and moral teachings of Aristotle and Saint Thomas Aquinas to...

read more
21 Centuries of Church History in 21 Pages by Albert Domm

21 Centuries of Church History in 21 Pages by Albert Domm

21 Centuries of Church History in 21 Pages by Albert Domm Focused on our Catholic faith, Albert Domm's 21 Centuries of Church History in 21 Pages engages the Catholic reader in a concise but rich history of our Church one full century at a time. A narrative flow, this...

read more
Words, Concepts, Reality: Aristotelian Logic for Teenagers

Words, Concepts, Reality: Aristotelian Logic for Teenagers

Words, Concepts, Reality: Aristotelian Logic for Teenagers By Thaddeus Kozinski, Ph.D. When we hear the word logic, we tend to think of arguments, premises and conclusions, claims and evidence for claims. But this is only half of it. Arguments are made of words, and...

read more
Teaching and Learning in the Age of COVID19

Teaching and Learning in the Age of COVID19

Teaching and Learning in the Age of COVID19: Faith-Based -- Online and Emergency Remote Ed. by Sebastian Mahfood, OP, Ph.D.,  Timothy Westbrook, Ph.D., and Victoria Dunnam, Ph.D. with a Foreword by Dr. Mary E. Lowe Over the past two decades, a generation of...

read more
Romans by Paul, authored by Richard L. Akins

Romans by Paul, authored by Richard L. Akins

Special congratulations to Rick for his being awarded third place in the 2020 Catholic Book Awards contest for best Catholic novel for Rebirth of Nicodemus.Romans by Paul: The Apostle's Defense of Catholic Doctrine by Richard L. Akins We are often challenged in our...

read more
Teaching Research Processes by William Badke

Teaching Research Processes by William Badke

Customers who buy Teaching Research Processes also bought Research Strategies. Get your copy today!Teaching Research Processes: The Faculty Role in the Development of Skilled Student Researchers, 2nd Edition by William Badke Today’s students struggle with the research...

read more
Soulful Organizational Leadership by Arthur William McVey

Soulful Organizational Leadership by Arthur William McVey

Soulful Organizational Leadership by Arthur William McVey In the "Postmodern" organizational era, the concept of soul, spirituality, rationality, telos, virtue, happiness, and meaning is becoming increasingly a mainstream component in scientific psychology. This...

read more
Wisdom Literature

Wisdom Literature

Wisdom Literature by Fr. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA The seven books of wisdom include Job, the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Wisdom, and Sirach, all of which teach one thing in a universal and essentially poetic manner: wisdom. Wisdom is  a practical...

read more
Pentateuch by Very Rev. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA

Pentateuch by Very Rev. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA

Pentateuch: A Spiritual Interpretation by Fr. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA This book gives a special emphasis to a spiritual interpretation of the Pentateuch in a manner that springs forth from and is based on the literal interpretation, in particular the actual words used...

read more
The Historical Books by Very Rev. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA

The Historical Books by Very Rev. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA

Historical Books by Fr. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA This book introduces the historical books of the Old Testament as a way by which all, especially those aspiring to the priesthood, can become familiar with the Old Testament and the various spiritual ways, grounded in...

read more
Prophetic Literature by Very Rev. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA

Prophetic Literature by Very Rev. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA

Prophetic Literature by Fr. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA This book engages the canonical prophetic literature of the Old Testament, demonstrating how it points to Christ and is fulfilled in Christ. Like Wisdom Literature, prophetic literature teaches perennial moral truths...

read more
Recent Catholic Philosophy: The Twentieth Century

Recent Catholic Philosophy: The Twentieth Century

Recent Catholic Philosophy: The Twentieth Century by Alan Vincelette This presentation of Catholic philosophy in the twentieth-century reveals a remarkable diversity of views. Dr. Vincelette presents this diversity in an expository manner without applying the kind of...

read more
Help Dante Help Italy

Help Dante Help Italy

Help Dante Help Italy A new translation by Daniel Fitzpatrick accompanied by the new sculptures of Timothy Schmalz Donate today!Canto 100 Revealed!The Inferno is now available in Paperback and Kindle! Click a link below to order your copy today! And, as you're...

read more
New Paths to God and the Soul by Roger Skrenes

New Paths to God and the Soul by Roger Skrenes

New Paths to God and the Soul by Roger Skrenes Much of what we receive through media of social communications does not concern itself with either God or the soul. So it is up to each of us to make ourselves aware of the pathways to God and the evidence for...

read more
A Study of the New Testament by Rev. John Paul Heil, S.S.D.

A Study of the New Testament by Rev. John Paul Heil, S.S.D.

John Paul Heil is a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Ordained in 1974, he studied at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, where he received his Doctorate in Sacred Scripture in 1979. After teaching at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis for 27 years, he...

read more
The Meaning of the Eucharist by Fr. Dennis Billy, C.Ss.R.

The Meaning of the Eucharist by Fr. Dennis Billy, C.Ss.R.

The Meaning of the Eucharist by Fr. Dennis Billy, C.Ss.R. This book highlights some of the major theological voices from the past century who contributed to a deepening of the Church’s understanding of the significance of the Eucharist and whose efforts came to...

read more
The Thomist Tradition: Avoiding Scylla and Charybdis

The Thomist Tradition: Avoiding Scylla and Charybdis

COMING SOON! The Thomist Tradition: Avoiding Scylla and Charybdis by Dr. Donald Boland As with every great philosopher and theologian, the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, though perhaps the clearest expressed of all, has inevitably been subject to a variety of...

read more
Eastern Civilization from a Catholic Viewpoint

Eastern Civilization from a Catholic Viewpoint

Eastern Civilization from a Catholic Viewpoint by Fr. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA, STD Eastern Civilization from a Catholic Viewpoint traces the history of East and South East Asia from ancient times to modern times. In the process, the reader is introduced to the various...

read more
East and South East Asian History

East and South East Asian History

East and South East Asian History by Fr. Peter Samuel Kucer, MSA East and South East Asian History studies the historical development of countries that make up East Asia (China, Taiwan, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea) and countries that make up South East...

read more
The Eclipse of God: Is Religion on the Way Out?

The Eclipse of God: Is Religion on the Way Out?

The Eclipse of God: Is Religion on the Way Out? by Gerard Verschuuren This book was specifically written for all those who feel lost in a world dominated by ideologies that obscure God. It is hard to pinpoint one particular cause of how we feel in such Godforsaken...

read more
Contemporary Sacred Art: Conversations on Art & Faith

Contemporary Sacred Art: Conversations on Art & Faith

COMING SOON! Contemporary Sacred Art: Conversations on Art & Faith by Dr. Michela Beatrice Ferri In translation now from the Italian. Buy it in the original language here: What is the so-called “Contemporary Sacred Art”? In her book, Michela Beatrice Ferri...

read more
Voyage to Insight

Voyage to Insight

Voyage to Insight by Dr. Ronda Chervin En Route Books and Media has reprinted Ronda Chervin and Lois Janis’ book Voyage to Insight with fresh, exciting graphics. It can be read straight through or you can add your own insights into the book and even dialogue about...

read more
In Praise of Life

In Praise of Life

In Praise of Life by Dr. Donald DeMarco This book illustrates how ten different factors can improve our appreciation of life: Evolution prepares it, Meaning justifies it, Love enhances it, Truth directs it, Freedom crowns it, Virtue strengthens it,...

read more