Volume 19, Issue 4, Winter 2019
William Matthew Diem
Reply to the National Catholic Bioethics Center’s Commentary on the CDF’s 2018 Responsum
The National Catholic Bioethics Center’s (NCBC) commentary on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 2018 responsum concerning hysterectomy fails to address the explicit reasoning that the CDF offers to justify its response. The CDF does not condone the hysterectomies in question as indirect sterilizations, justified by double effect. Rather, it defines procreation—and consequently sterilization—such that the moral categories of direct and indirect sterilization are not applicable in such cases. The CDF responsum is far more radical and consequential than the NCBC commentary acknowledges. The responsum provides Catholic ethicists with an occasion for a necessary conversation that can be had only once the reasoning of the 2018 responsum is taken seriously in its own right.