Anna Krohn, National Bioethics Convenor

Anna Krohn, National Bioethics Convenor

Anna Krohn is an educator and educational writer, and is currently a tutor in ethics and spirituality in the Department of Nursing at Australian Catholic University, Melbourne. She is also the Academic Advisor to students at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family and, a writer for the Catholic Record in Perth and other religious media.

She has worked for many years in the areas of publishing (print & online), educational resource writing and editing, public speaking, professional training and in the research of health ethics at the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute (Adelaide) and at the former Bioethics Centre at St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne. She is a member of the Board of Trustees for Campion College for the Liberal Arts in NSW and a founding member and convenor of the Anima Women's Network. Anna is the National Bioethics Convenor of the Catholic Women's League of Australia. She is currently completing a Ph D in Theology.

If you have a question or topic that you would like Anna to write about in her blog, please send an email to

This is a summation of the speech given by Anna Krohn, National Bioethics Convenor, at the recent 46th National Biennial Conference.

“Synergy” is a rather specialised 19th century word originally used in science. Its literal sense comes from two Greek terms meaning “substances or people working together.” The Oxford dictionary defines synergy as an effective cooperation which is “a combined effort which is greater than the sum of its parts.”

oil for wounds 100Pope Francis’ recent interviews in America magazine, and with atheist Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari in La Repubblica, have “gone viral” since their publication. Unfortunately, the level of selective reporting and of skewed reading is also off the scale!

There are the jubilant headlines announcing that the Pope is telling pro-lifers to stop ‘obsessing’ about abortion, and that he is shifting moral teachings relating sexuality and marriage. Then there are angry remarks from bloggers inside the Church who have micro-analysed Francis’ remarks and see “behind them a slap in the face for all those who have fought the culture wars in defence of traditional Catholic teachings.”

surrogacy 100In 2011, the Tasmanian Catholic Women’s League prepared a detailed submission to the Tasmanian Parliament which voiced serious concerns about the risks of “genealogical bewilderment” for children and exploitation of vulnerable women within the state and beyond. Their submission also decried a state endorsed “surrogacy arrangement…. which intentionally deprives children of the opportunity to be conceived, carried in the womb, and raised by a natural mother and a natural father.”

Despite their detailed submission, and the concerned voices of other child welfare and faith groups, the Surrogacy Act 2012 (Tas) was passed in August last year.

bergogliowashfeet 100Pope John Paul II surprised many when he affirmed the insights of over a century of women’s activism: “Women’s dignity has often been unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented; they have often been relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to servitude. This has prevented women from truly being themselves and it has resulted in a spiritual impoverishment of humanity.” (Letter to Women #3)

truehumandignity 100The words and actions of Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI surely affirm, and inspire us all in the pursuit of the League’s mission of educating, promoting and defending the dignity of all our fellow human beings—whether elderly, pre-born, disabled, or hale and hearty.

The spontaneous gesture by Pope Francis to leave his papal entourage so that he could kiss a disabled man was a bioethics homily beyond words. The responding surprised delight on the man’s face, and those around him in St Peter’s Square, was a powerful visual counter-sign to a world where pregnancies are screened and the challenging end-of-lives patients are hastened to their death.

In his third encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth, 2009), Pope Benedict XVI urges the societies of the world and the Church herself to take a “new trajectory of thinking … in order to arrive at a better understanding of the implications of our being one family” (n.35). This need to re-imagine the Church’s social mission seems more urgent than ever, especially as Christianity becomes caricatured or unheard in the midst of the often strident debates about human rights and equality, bioethical issues, asylum seekers, humane and sustainable economies, and what Benedict XVI calls the ‘ecology’ of love, sexuality and marriage.

There is distinct air of both surprise and hope at the announcement this week that Father Paul Bird, the regional head (provincial) of the Redemptorists will be the eighth Catholic Bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat.

It is interesting that commentators and bloggers from different theological quarters in the church have been united in their positive reception of the news.

Often the ethical, cultural and legislative campaigns for euthanasia are so unremitting that those many people defending the sanctity of life suffer a type of campaign “fatigue”.

Symptoms of this fatigue can include existential burn-out and a type of ethical depression. We can start to believe that those campaigning for euthanasia and assisted suicide have all the celebrities, all the progress, all the funding, all the media headlines and all the emotional energy. It is worth discussing just a few of the reasons for this experience.

In April this year, an independent and cross-party U.K. Parliamentary group released the Report of its Inquiry into Online Child Protection. The Inquiry was conducted not only with the working team of Conservative, Labour and cross-bench members, but was supported by 60 other British Parliamentarians. It was prompted by some of the findings of the 2011 Report Letting Children Be Children: Report of the Independent review of the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood (October 2011).

annasblog20120530 100The last few decades have witnessed a rising tide of societal outrage and grief over the neglect or evasion of cases of child sexual abuse within once trusted institutions—the scouts, schools or churches. People question why it is that time and time again those in authority prevaricated, ignored the evidence or were simply too perplexed to face their suspicions squarely. These questions are justified.

At the same time, there is evidence of a disturbing double standard within the same sections of the public who would lynch all priests and school teachers for the crimes of a few.

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