Choosing Life: A Dialogue on Evangelium Vitae

Choosing Life: A Dialogue on Evangelium Vitae

by Kevin William Wildes
     
 

Evangelium Vitae, or "The Gospel of Life," Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical, addresses practical moral questions that touch on the sacredness of human life: abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide, and capital punishment. Tackling major moral and cultural ideas, the Pope urged "all men and women of good will" to embrace a "culture of life" instead

Overview

Evangelium Vitae, or "The Gospel of Life," Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical, addresses practical moral questions that touch on the sacredness of human life: abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide, and capital punishment. Tackling major moral and cultural ideas, the Pope urged "all men and women of good will" to embrace a "culture of life" instead of the prevailing "culture of death." In this book, scholars from a wide range of disciplines—law, medicine, philosophy, and theology—and various religious perspectives discuss and interpret the Pope's teachings on these complex moral issues.

The opening essays establish a context for the encyclical in the moral thought of John Paul II and examine issues of methodology and ecclesiology. A second group considers the themes of law and technology, which are crucial to the way the encyclical views the specific matters of life and death. The final section turns to the specific topics of abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, medical experimentation, and capital punishment.

Seeking to promote discussion between the ideas of the encyclical and other points of view, this volume does not attempt to endorse Evangelium Vitae but rather to illustrate its relevance to both private choice and public policy. It will serve as a foundation for further dialogue and allow others to approach the pontiff's thought with new awareness and insight.

Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Judith Lee Kissell, PhD, MA, BA (Creighton University)
Description: This book is a methodological, philosophical, and substantive critique of the encyclical Evangelium Vitae. It provides commentary from mostly Jesuit theologians, lawyers, and philosophers, but also includes non-Catholic authors familiar and/or affiliated with Catholic institutions.
Purpose: In Wildes' words, the book's purpose, consistent with that of the encyclical itself, is "to gather responses to the encyclical from all directions: Catholic, non-Catholic, believer, and non-believer."
Audience: The book is aimed at the same audience as is the encyclical, to persons of different faiths and denominations, believers and unbelievers — "those who think about morality, ethics, and society." The articles are appropriately addressed to exactly that audience.
Features: The structure is convenient, and the presence of an index, so often missing in edited publications, is both helpful and welcome.
Assessment: This book is refreshing in its readiness to critique a Church document by those most prepared to defend the encyclical and its spirit and tradition. Wildes correctly observes that readers seeking an exegesis or endorsement of the encyclical will be disappointed. The book is a Jesuit tour de force: its analysis is crisp, to the point, insightful. Commentators more often challenge the Pope's rhetorical misconceptions regarding the "culture of life and death" than provide head-on disagreement. Prejean and Walters impugn, for instance, the Pope's accommodation of, and his failure to condemn, the death penalty and the imagery of war. If this book has a weakness it is its failure to cast a sufficiently wide net in gathering perspective and appraisal. Most of the non-Catholic commentators are Protestant, while Jewish, Moslem and non-believer expressions are notably absent. More disappointing is the faintness of the feminine voice. While Olesko and Alvare provide fresh insight into the encyclical's implicit sexism, the three remaining women commentators avoid a robust sally on gender issues.
3 Stars from Doody
Judith Lee Kissell
This book is a methodological, philosophical, and substantive critique of the encyclical Evangelium Vitae. It provides commentary from mostly Jesuit theologians, lawyers, and philosophers, but also includes non-Catholic authors familiar and/or affiliated with Catholic institutions. In Wildes' words, the book's purpose, consistent with that of the encyclical itself, is "to gather responses to the encyclical from all directions: Catholic, non-Catholic, believer, and non-believer." The book is aimed at the same audience as is the encyclical, to persons of different faiths and denominations, believers and unbelievers -- "those who think about morality, ethics, and society." The articles are appropriately addressed to exactly that audience. The structure is convenient, and the presence of an index, so often missing in edited publications, is both helpful and welcome. This book is refreshing in its readiness to critique a Church document by those most prepared to defend the encyclical and its spirit and tradition. Wildes correctly observes that readers seeking an exegesis or endorsement of the encyclical will be disappointed. The book is a Jesuit tour de force: its analysis is crisp, to the point, insightful. Commentators more often challenge the Pope's rhetorical misconceptions regarding the "culture of life and death" than provide head-on disagreement. Prejean and Walters impugn, for instance, the Pope's accommodation of, and his failure to condemn, the death penalty and the imagery of war. If this book has a weakness it is its failure to cast a sufficiently wide net in gathering perspective and appraisal. Most of the non-Catholic commentators are Protestant, whileJewish, Moslem and non-believer expressions are notably absent. More disappointing is the faintness of the feminine voice. While Olesko and Alvare provide fresh insight into the encyclical's implicit sexism, the three remaining women commentators avoid a robust sally on gender issues.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780878406463
Publisher:
Georgetown University Press
Publication date:
09/28/1997
Pages:
292
Product dimensions:
0.66(w) x 6.00(h) x 9.00(d)

Meet the Author

Kevin William Wildes, SJ, is president of Loyola University New Orleans.

Alan C. Mitchell is an associate professor of theology at Georgetown University.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >