Roberto Dell’Oro, the Austin and Ann O’Malley Chair in Bioethics at Loyola Marymount University, led a delegation of the International Bioethics Group in a meeting with Pope Francis in Vatican City. The theme of the meeting was the work of the group and the issue of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, which the group had addressed in one of its recent meetings.
During the Feb. 13, 2023, meeting, the group presented their statement in support of Pope Francis and the measures he is taking to address the scandal openly and honestly, and to support Pope Francis’ call for pastoral renewal.
Dell’Oro, who is also director of the Bioethics Institute and professor of theological studies, said, “The meeting with Pope Francis was an extraordinary opportunity for the group and for me personally. I was impressed with Pope Francis listening attitude and the way he addressed some of the dimensions of the document we had submitted to him. He shared with us his concern with Church renewal in a spirit of synodality and transparency. As to the matter of sexual abuse, he reiterated the need to fight clericalism and to rethink the place of the laity, especially women, in the Church.”
The International Bioethics Group meets annually to discuss bioethical issues from the broader perspective of the Catholic philosophical and theological tradition. It is composed of Catholic scholars working in the field of bioethics and the discussions take place in an atmosphere of freedom and friendship, and in a seminar-style conversation. The seminars of IBG have included topics such as stem-cell research, cloning, genetics, synthetic biology, assisted suicide and euthanasia, among others.
The group’s seven-page statement addresses sexual anthropology and ethics; the theology of ordained priesthood; and the origins of Church structure and the position of women. “In calling attention to these three problems made evident by the abuse crisis,” the paper reads, the group hopes to be part of reconciliation and healing in the Church.