1. NAME AND IDENTITY OF THE COMMISSION
Global Ethics, in all its many facets, is growing increasingly in importance in the modern world. In every area of society there is an insistent demand to consider global ethical issues in the fields of welfare and health care, as well as the economy, politics, ecology, research and education. Governments, the international organisations, professional institutions, universities and religious denominations, are all demanding it, as well as the Catholic Church in particular. Read...
This is all the result of the huge advances made in technical, scientific, social and political terms, as well as the new possibilities for development which are opening up in the modern world. All this progress is very important in so far as it benefits human life, but it can also create major moral dilemmas for individuals and for society as a whole, because it may sometimes offend against human dignity, dehumanise life and relations between people, encourage inequalities and fail to respect the ecosystem.
1.2 Bioethics in the Order
Bioethics, which is the interdisciplinary study of the ethics of life, is becoming increasingly important today.
The Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God is particularly sensitive and committed to Bioethics, to appraise and appropriately address the ethical dilemmas that arise in its Apostolic Centres, both in the field of welfare and health care, as well as in management and social and biomedical research, and environmental ethics. For several years already the Order has been setting up Bioethics Committees (health and social care and research), some of which have already built up considerable useful experience. In 2000, the Order published its document "The Charter of Hospitality" which laid down the principles and basic guidelines for the work of our Institution in the field of Bioethics.
1.3 The General Commission on Bioethics (GCB)
At the 66th General Chapter held in October 2006 in Rome, the Hospitaller Order considered it necessary to continue to give even greater encouragement to considering Bioethics in every Centre and Facility, mindful of its importance and the need to educate Brothers and Co-workers in this field, in order to be able to respond properly to any ethical questions that arise, and which are increasing in number, and growing in complexity, all the time. The Order therefore approved the establishment of a General Commission on Bioethics (GCB) to create greater ethical sensitivity among our Brothers and Co-workers, particularly by providing them with formation, to encourage the institution of Bioethics Commissions throughout the Order and to become actively committed to providing advice and coordination services on all issues relating to Bioethics at the general level.
More specifically, the terms of reference issued by the Chapter, setting out the mission and the basic purpose of the GCB are :
To institute, at the General Curia, a liaison body, consultancy organ or an observatory, to reflect on bioethics issues at the level of the whole Order. This organ could advise the Provinces to gather information on everything that is being experienced on ethical and/or bioethical issues within the Order, and share the information with the largest possible number of people, particularly with those who cannot avail themselves of this type of Committees and have to address similar problems."(Declarations of the LXVI General Chapter, Bioethics, 2)
The General Chapter held in Fatima in 2012 further strengthened this decision by deciding to:
Consolidate the General and Provincial Commissions on Ethics and Bioethics, provide adequate formation and take appropriate decisions on these matters throughout the Order (Declarations of the LXVII General Chapter, Lines of action and priorities of the LXVII General Chapter, Mission, III)
The 2019 69th General Chapter in Rome, dedicated a section on the importance of ethics, which is included in the guidelines of the Sexennium programme:
- We must draft a code of ethics for the Order based on our mission of evangelising the world of poverty, sickness and suffering, to provide guidance to the Provinces which, in turn, must adapt them to suit the local environments. The code must contain a number of recommendations regarding respect for Creation. .
- We must also improve and enhance education in Bioethics, the ethics of economic and social management, and the ethics of research in the field of vocational training and continuing .
- The Order's Centres must be secure and safe places for everyone, particularly for the most vulnerable.
The Magisterium of the Catholic Church, the principles and the fundamental thrusts of the Order's Charter of Hospitality, the actual real-life situation in which individuals live and interdisciplinary ethical dialogue (theological-moral, healthcare and behavioural sciences, legislation and law, clients/guests etc) must make up the fundamental framework for the development and the work of the GCB in particular, and Bioethics in the life of the Order, in general.
2. ITS main purpose
The basic mission of the GCB is to advise and provide direction on issues relating to Bioethics, to promote and coordinate the Bioethics Committees to encourage formation and ethical sensitisation in our care Centres and propose guidelines for action, particularly in areas where major conflicts may emerge within the Order.
3. Specific purposes
- To encourage and accompany the establishment of Bioethics Committees and/or Commissions in the Order's Provinces and Apostolic Centres.
- To encourage the continuing formation in ethics and bioethics of the Brothers and Co-workers throughout the Order, working jointly with the Regional officials and their Bioethics working groups.
- To promote regional activities coordinated with the General Commission.
- The GCB shall draft documents based on demands as they arise, especially with reference to global ethics and ethical issues arising in the Order's working environments.
- To encourage the study of global ethical issues as the development and expansion of the Charter of Hospitality, to be used as guidelines for the whole Order.
- To understand the operation of the Bioethics Committees that already exist and their reflections, protocols and basic lines of action, in order to properly acquainted with them and to foster the exchange of information between the Provinces and Centres of the Order.
- To provide Bioethics information and consultancy services to the Order's General Government.
- To advise and guide the Provinces and Centres on Bioethics matters, especially in conflicting ethical situations and dilemmas.
- To encourage access by the Provinces to the GCB through the Commission President and the General Councillors and Delegates responsible for the Regions of the Order. To this end, the members of the GCB are given the responsibility of monitoring one or more Regions of the Order working side-by-side with the President, who acts as supervisor of this activity.
- To create opportunities to relate to Church institutions, Foundations, Institutes, Units and the Centres of Biomedical Research within the Order, and particularly with its Ethics Committees, in order to become familiar with, coordinate and appraise ethical criteria for action.
- To promote and to take part in congresses and meetings on Bioethics organised in the Order offering the vision and appraising all the issues on the agenda.
- To encourage the exchange of information within the Order on bioethics matters.
The working method begins with debate and interdisciplinary dialogue , trying as far as possible to establish unanimous agreement on the matters under discussion, always consistently with the principles and fundamental values of the Order. If a unanimous opinion is not reached, a majority opinion should be expressed and the minority position must be minuted.
The GCB shall have a Permanent Secretariat at the General Curia which:
- Is managed by the President and coordinated by the Commission Secretary,
- Receives and archives all the documentation sent in from the Provinces,
- Supports the President to help draft the agenda for meetings and to send out notices convening the meetings with at least 60 days' prior notice,
- Supports the Secretary to help draft the minutes of the meetings and the replies to any questions put to the Commission,
- Facilitates contacts between the members, and in particular supports them in their role as benchmarks for the Order's Regions.
If it is deemed appropriate and necessary, extraordinary meetings may also be convened with advisers whenever it is necessary to consult on any issues that emerge. The President of the Commission, acting on behalf of the whole Standing Commission, may convene individual number of members of the GCB.
In the aforementioned cases, and whenever necessary to deal with specific aspects and issues of relevance to the work of the Commission, the Permanent Secretariat must contact the members of the Commission by email to hear the opinions and judgments of each one of them.
Acting through the Secretariat, the Commission provides information regarding Congresses and meetings on Bioethics that are organised in the Order and outside it. One or more members of the GCB must attend them.
It is planned to institute a data bank on ethics and bioethics in Order to build up a complete picture of the situation of the Order in this regard and to be able to share reflections, protocols, guidelines for action, decisions on concrete cases etc.
The members of the GCB, and its President, are appointed by the Prior General.
The members must have experience in Bioethics and be thoroughly familiar with the Hospitaller Order.
The members of the GCB remain in office for the Sexennium. The members appointed for the period 2012-2018 are:
Brother Joaquim Erra (President)
Dr Salvino LEONE (Europe)
Sister Margarita BOFARULL (Europe)
Dr Silvia OGER (Latin America)
Brother Hugues ASSOU (Africa)
Brother Pio Chang (Asia-Pacific)
Brother Robert Moore (WEONA)
Brother André SENE (Secretary)
An Operational Committee shall also be established, tasked with streamlining the work of the Commission and enabling it to react promptly and monitoring the implementation of its work. For the first Sexennium the members shall be:
Brother Joaquim Erra (President)
Dr Salvino LEONE
Sister Margarita BOFARULL
Brother André SENE (Secretary)
When dealing with specific issues, experts may also be invited to attend the meetings of the GCB.
6. LOGISTICAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR MEETINGS
The Commission Secretary shall coordinate the organisational arrangements for the work of the General Commission on Bioethics to ensure that meeting rooms available and premises are available, to supply the interpreting services and to deal with every other logistical aspect linked to the work of the Commission.
7. Convening meetings, and theIR regularity
The Commission President shall convene the meetings and draw up the agenda for them.
The GCB shall meet twice a year, as a rule, normally at the General Curia in Rome.
Meetings shall be convened with at least 70 days' notice.
The Secretary is responsible for drafting the minutes of every meeting and ensuring that they reach all the members of the Commission in advance of the following meeting. The Permanent Secretariat is responsible for archiving the minutes.
The Order's website shall have a section dedicated to the GCB containing a full account of all the work of the Commission. The website shall have a webpage specifically for publishing and sharing materials.
These rules were adopted by the GCB after their approval by the General Council of the Order on 2020.
|Code of Ethics|
|Ethical Management and Leadership Guidelines|
|Ethical Reflection on the End of Life|
|Matters dealt with by the General Committee|
|World Bioethics Conference Video|
|World Bioethics Conference|
|World Bioethics Conference
|St John of God’s Ethics|
|General Bioethics Commission|
|Protocol on « Hospitality based on Responsibility » (abuse)|
|Regulations of the Order’s Ethics Committees|
|The Order’s Ethics Protocols|
|Bioethics Formation Framework|
|The Order’s Bioethics Map|
|Documents and Reflections on Ethics Issues in the Order|
|Establishing a Bioethics Committees Within the Provinces|