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Der Papst und der menschliche Körper - Vatikanische Verlautbarungen des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts zum menschlichen Körper und dem fürsorglichen Umgang mit ihm

Bignion, Claudia

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Translation of abstract (English)

Claudia Bignion Dr. med. The Holy See And The Human Body in The 19th And 20th Century Promotionsfach: Geschichte und Ethik der Medizin Doktorvater: Herr Prof. Dr. med. Wolfgang U. Eckart The influence of the Catholic Church on people all over the world prior to the 19th and 20th Century had been monumental. Historical evidence indicates that the Catholic Church set forth edicts on how to live one’s life. Even in the area of how to treat one’s body, the Vatican created dogma that would affect the health of human beings. However, as succeeding Popes have attempted to maintain their influence in this area, Catholics in the 19th and 20th Centuries have increasingly turned to their physicians, rather than abide by the Pope’s edicts. Research in the area of health Sciences and the physicians who provide health care has supplanted the relevant dogma of the Catholic Church. Literature published by the Vatican, as well as historical documents on medical and ethical questions demonstrate that progress in the medical field has affected the political landscape and resulted in skepticism about the church’s role in health care. Napoleon’s victory marked a changing political environment for everyone, including the Catholic Church. Since that time, the Vatican’s influence in the area of health, has diminished and slowly faded over the next two hundred years. During the Renaissance of the 19th C, people gradually became aware that they could affect their own destiny and didn’t need to rely so heavily on the dogma of the Catholic Church. The science of health developed through intelligent research and application which positively changed people’s distrust of the medical community and shed them of their belief that disease simply had to be suffered. It heralded a new era of treatment and prevention of disease. The efforts by the Catholic Church to shepard their flock in the 19th C continued to flourish, however. Although the doctrine of “The Immaculate Conception” predated Pope Pius IX in 1854, an edict at that time was proclaimed to emphasize Catholicism’s adherence to the belief of inborn sin. It appears as though it was an effort to harness the longing of Catholics to be autonomous by invoking the idea that their inborn sins could only be forgiven by God, thus promoting dependence on Catholic Church. In 1859, the sacrosanct teachings of the Catholic Church were weakened when the Biblical text of Genesis was put into question as a result of the work and publication of Charles Darwin’s book, “On the Origin of Species.” So just as medical and health science were advancing, so were other sciences that resulted in the theory of evolution. Undoubtedly the Catholic Church was facing a more critical constituency and more science-based thinking. By 1869, Pope Pius conscribed the First Vatican Council and announced the edict of infallibility of the Pope. Unfortunately for the Catholic Church, the time was fertile for advances in science and people were becoming less reliant on their church for rules on how to live one’s life. One of the central issues that the Catholic Church focused on was contraception, which, if implemented correctly, would diminish the population, including Catholics. They were strictly forbidden the use of condoms and/or birth control pills. It was an imperative to once again depend on the church for guidance; that God could determine how many children one could have. Man could have no choice, according to the Pope. How the Catholic Church responded to the rise of the Nazi State was counter-intuitive to those who believed in God and the sanctity of life. Pope Pius XII cowered under the strength of the Regime and signed the concordat between the Holy See and Germany in 1933. Rather than taking up a stance against the persecution of the Jews and other minorities he was watching as they became victims of medical experiments. The Pope’s response was considered anathema to the church’s teaching. For physicians, it was vastly contradictory to the Hippocratic Oath, which states, “Do no harm.” Despite the efforts by the Catholic Church to maintain their influence on people, including how they chose to treat their own bodies, health science and people’s positive attitude toward health care improved. Nowadays the emphasis of a priest’s tasks in health care is focused on taking care of the spiritual needs of a patient. By the end of the 20th C, the Catholic Church experienced a dearth of priests, most likely due to the oath of celibacy that was a prerequisite for priesthood. How this played out in terms of pedophiles who became priests primarily to indulge themselves, is a question that is being asked today. However, even though how the rule of celibacy may have influenced the rise of pedophilic activity may be unknown, its impact on how to treat the mental health of its victims and the science of psychiatry has unwittingly advanced. This dissertation is an extensive review of the literature about developing scientific knowledge in relation to the power of the Catholic Church. It chronicles the events and edicts of the Vatican which relate to choices that concern the human body. Each chapter can be looked at in more depth and can be expanded as more literature is available and studied. In order to stay focused on ideas and chronology, this researcher chose to limit her studies. Nevertheless, interesting topics of discussion of recent history, e.g., organ donation, in vitro fertilization, embryonic stem cell transplants and cloning are being done and are on the horizon for both medical and ethical consideration. Undoubtedly, this has and will unleash vast controversy within the Catholic Church.

Item Type: Abstract of a medical dissertation
Supervisor: Eckart, Prof. Dr. W.U.
Date of thesis defense: 8 March 2011
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2011 14:43
Date: 2010
Faculties / Institutes: Medizinische Fakultät Heidelberg > Dekanat der Medizinischen Fakultät Heidelberg
Subjects: 610 Medical sciences Medicine
Uncontrolled Keywords: Geschichte der Medizin
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