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India's Latin-rite bishops launch Bioethics Forum

The consultative body will engage with moral and ethical issues in the fields of medical practice and public policy

India's Latin-rite bishops launch Bioethics Forum

Father Christopher Vimalraj will serve as director of the Bioethics Forum launched recently by India’s Latin-rite bishops. (Photo supplied)

India’s Latin-rite bishops have established a Bioethics Forum to engage with moral questions arising in clinical practice, biomedical research and public policy on healthcare issues.

Father Christopher Vimalraj, a priest of the Archdiocese of Bangalore, will serve as its first director.

The decision was taken at the 87th executive committee meeting of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) on Sept. 20-21.

A press statement issued on Sept. 21 said: “CCBI Bioethics Forum is a consultative forum that engages with moral questions arising in clinical practice, biomedical research and public policy on healthcare issues through a person-centric bioethical approach.”

The forum will engage in scholarly dialogue with healthcare workers, bioethicists, lawyers and theologians; it will also seek to study the implications of the teachings of the Catholic Church for the fields of medical practice and public policy.

The CCBI had come up with a bioethics document on the Covid-19 vaccine, “A Catholic Ethical Response to Questions about Covid-19 Vaccines,” in February 2021, which was appreciated internationally.

He is also a member of the institutional ethics committees at St. John’s Medical College and the Indian Council of Medical Research

The press statement signed by Father Stephen Alathara, deputy secretary-general of CCBI, said that “the Bioethics Forum will work under the CCBI Commission for Theology and Doctrine headed by Archbishop Felix Toppo of Ranchi.”

Father Vimalraj, who holds a master’s degree in bioethics from the Gemelli Medical College and a doctorate in moral theology from the Accademia Alfonsiana, both in Rome, is an adjunct professor of bioethics at St. John’s National Institute of Health Sciences in Bangalore.

He is also a member of the institutional ethics committees at St. John’s Medical College and the Indian Council of Medical Research in Bangalore.

He was born on Oct 23, 1967, and ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Bangalore on July 11, 2007. He is currently the director of St. Germain Academy in Bangalore.

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The Catholic Church in India comprises of the Latin rite and the two Oriental rites, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara. The Latin rite is the largest one and follows the Roman liturgy introduced by European missioners in the 15th century, while the two Oriental rites, both based in Kerala state, follow Syrian Church traditions and trace their origins to St. Thomas the Apostle.

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