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Pope appoints Shaare Zedek’s Prof Steinberg

19 July 2017

In an extraordinary endorsement of the contribution of Jewish thought to global medical ethical considerations, Pope Francis appointed two rabbis including Shaare Zedek’s Professor Rabbi Avraham Steinberg to the Pontifical Academy of Life in Rome last month.

Professor Steinberg, who won the Israel Prize in 1999 for original rabbinic literature, and Rabbi Fernando Szlajen of Argentina were designated on June 13 as members of the institution that “exists for the promotion and defence of human life, especially regarding bioethics as it regards Christian morality.”
According to a recent article in the Jerusalem Post, this is the first time rabbis have been invited to be members.

The Pontifical Academy for Life, founded by Pope John Paul II, exists for the promotion and defence of human life, especially regarding bioethics as it regards Christian morality.

Founded in 1994 by St. John Paul II, the Pontifical Academy for Life is charged with defending and promoting “the value of human life and the dignity of the person.” Last November, Pope Francis issued new statutes for the academy to widen the scope of its activity and research on life issues.

The Pope named 45 new ordinary members and five honorary members to the advisory body of the academy, according to an announcement from the Vatican. New members of the Advisory body include scientists, professors and experts in medicine and ethics from both religious and secular backgrounds.

The new members hail from 27 countries, with seven from the United States and Canada. Academy members are nominated for five-year terms, which can be renewed. Membership ends when an academician turns 80.

Professor Steinberg is director of the Medical Ethics Unit of the Shaare Zedek Medical Centre in Jerusalem and director of the Editorial Committee of the Talmudic Encyclopaedia. He was recognized with the Israel Prize in 1999 for authoring “The Encyclopaedia of Jewish Medical Ethics,” and is a world acclaimed authority in applying halachic considerations to modern medical innovations.

Deputy Chair of the Australian Friends of Shaare Zedek, Professor Agi Bankier met Professor Avraham Steinberg during her recent visit to Israel.

Professor Steinberg’s medical ethics unit addresses questions raised by modern innovation in medical science that require expertise in both medical and ethical spheres. Some of the complex scenarios posed to Professor Steinberg’s Medical Ethics Unit relate to the halachic status of issues relating to stem cell research, pre-implantation genetic diagnoses (PGD), gender selection, human enhancement, end-of-life issues, abortions and many others complex issues.

Agi notes, “During my meeting with Professor Steinberg, we discussed many medical ethical issues particularly relating to halachic determination of parental relationships in assisted reproduction.

“Professor Steinberg’s appointment to the Pontifical Academy of Life is a significant confirmation of the contribution he and Shaare Zedek’s Centre of Medical Ethics are making to the world.”