The FIBIP, a Name in Catholic Bioethics
Curiously, perhaps the most important event at the recently concluded general assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life in October was a momentous board meeting of FIBIP. What is FIBIP you may well ask? The Federazione Internazionale di Centri e Istituti di Bioetica di Ispirazione Personalista (International Federation of Bioethics Centers and Institutes of the Personalist School) was founded in 2003 by Cardinal Elio Sgreccia and is an international network of 40 groups fostering the Personalist Catholic Bioethics he created. This board meeting launched an international drive to grow FIBIP from a primarily Italian, Latin American and Spanish network to become a truly global force in Bioethics.
Cardinal Sgreccia was a close friend and collaborator of Pope Saint John Paul II.1 He made a tremendous long-term impact on the Catholic academic world by launching in 1985 the Institute of Bioethics in the Faculty of Medicine of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart-famous for its Gemelli teaching hospital in Rome. Sgreccia was one of the earliest and most influential Catholic scholars to study and teach Bioethics. He had doctoral students go on to start or staff Bioethics institutes all over the world, but primarily in Italy and Latin America. His magnum opus, the Manuale di Bioetica, has exerted tremendous influence in Rome and elsewhere as a university textbook. It was translated into English and published by the National Catholic Bioethics Center as Personalist Bioethics: Foundations and Applications in 2012.
Growing the FIBIP in the English-speaking World
FIBIP grew mainly in countries where Cardinal Sgreccia felt comfortable with the language and from where his students predominantly came, Italy and Spanish-speaking nations. (Sgreccia has a firm command of English but speaks it with a strong accent.) Now, thanks to Dr. John Haas, the new president of the FIBIP and founder of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, and with the full support of HLI, the FIBIP is poised to become a major force in the English-speaking world where liberal Bioethics started and tends to dominate.
HLI is a proud member of the FIBIP network and sees a desperate modern need for this kind of Bioethics grounded in non-relativistic values that place the inherent dignity of the human person at the center of ethical questions. HLI’s Dr. Joseph Meaney, pictured below, studied under Cardinal Sgreccia at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart and received his doctorate there in bioethics. He is now a board member for the FIBIP and we at HLI actively promote FIBIP’s international expansion. Hopefully, it will have the same impact in America and the English-speaking world as it has had in the Spanish-speaking countries and Italy.
Dr. Joseph Meaney, Board Member of the FIBIP and HLI’s Director of International Outreach and Expansion, contributed to this report.
 Sgreccia was appointed and made a bishop by Pope John Paul II, first as secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and then as president of the Pontifical Academy for Life until his retirement in 2008. Pope Benedict XVI elevated him to the rank of cardinal in 2010.