You’ve probably heard of Peter Singer, the controversial Princeton bioethicist who advocates infanticide, incest and bestiality. A utilitarian who supports abortion, Singer has stated publicly that some animals are more entitled to personhood than are newborn babies. By his standard, then, parents could decide in the first six months of their child’s life whether to permit him to live, or whether to euthanize him.
On August 13, the outspoken professor with the outrageous views will debate against the author of Catholic Bioethics for a New Millennium—the prominent archbishop of the Catholic archdiocese of Sydney, Archbishop Anthony Fisher, O.P. The topic of the debate is yet to be determined, but it will center on end-of-life issues.
The debate, described by The Catholic Weekly as a “major coup,” was organized by the Catholic Society of St. Peter, the local Catholic student association at the University of Sydney. The student association’s president, Alessandro Cowley, wrote to both men inviting them to debate, after Cowley read of a 2003 debate between Archbishop Fisher and euthanasia activist Philip Nitschke.
Daniel Hill, convenor of University Catholic Chaplaincies, helped to persuade the two ethicists to compete, adding his letter of support to the student’s letter to Singer. Hill explained to The Catholic Weekly why he believed the debate is important:
If you are a Catholic student at Sydney universities it is very likely, if not a certainty, that you would have had some of Peter Singer’s ideas presented to you as fact.
“To have them challenged by our own archbishop – not just a religious leader but a world leader on the issue – is something very significant; something I suspect, just as happened in 2003, the students will not forget.”
The debate will take place in the Great Hall at the University of Sydney–the same venue where an audience of 900 watched the 2003 debate between Archbishop Fisher and Nitschke.
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Archbishop Fisher’s other books include Abortion in Australia: Answers and Alternatives (written with Jane Buckingham); IVF: The Critical Issues; I am a stranger: Will you welcome me? The Immigration Debate; Code of Ethical Standards for Catholic Health and Aged Services in Australia; Relevant Issues in Healthcare; and Healthcare Allocation: An Ethical Framework for Public Policy.