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Edinboro University’s Drane participates in discussion of aging issues at Vatican


Edinboro University bioethicist James F. Drane, Ph.D., joined other experts from around the world Feb. 20-21 in a Vatican meeting that addressed aging and disability.

Drane, Russell B. Roth Professor Emeritus at Edinboro, is a pioneer of the bioethics field. During the 20th anniversary General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life, he presented a paper and took part in a dialogue on the topic of aging.

The Academy, created by the late Pope John Paul II, addresses a different aspect of life each year with the assistance of philosophers, theologians, scientists and bioethicists from around the world.

“In today’s Vatican culture, issues facing the Catholic Church are being looked at from contemporary scientific and anthropological perspectives,” Drane said. “This is especially true of issues generated by contemporary medicine.  Human life and human personhood have always been considered sacred, but now these sacred realities need to be studied through the lens of modern science, anthropology and medicine.”

This year’s meeting of the Academy looked at aspects of aging, as well as associated issues such as euthanasia, and the many questions raised by death and dying, Drane said.

“The underlying commitment was to the preciousness of human life that is not lost and should not be compromised either in sickness or in dying,” he said. “Death is inevitable, as well as disability for most dying persons, but neither diminishes the preciousness of human life or human personhood.”

Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said in a news release from the Academy that aging results in changes to physical and intellectual abilities that alter the person’s life and bring increasing challenges to the individual, the family and society.

“The Church is motivated to contribute a renewed reflection on this reality in order to provide a more noteworthy and leading support,” he said. 

Drane’s visit to the Vatican coincided with a meeting of Pope Francis with cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church and the naming of new cardinals. He was given lodging and meals at a residence for cardinals, bishops and Vatican clergy and had an opportunity to meet a number of cardinals.

He is scheduled to host a visit later this year from the Rev. Pegoraro Renzo, chancellor of the Academy for Life, who plans to do research at the James F. Drane Bioethics Institute at Edinboro University.