Widows, Women, and the Bioethics of Care
Partridge, Christina T.
Christian Bioethics 2005 April; 11(1): 77-92
Widows, women, and the bioethics of care must be understood within an authentic Christian ontology of gender. Men are men and women are women, and their being is ontologically marked in difference. There is an ontology of gender with important implications for the role of women in the family and the Church. The Christian Church has traditionally recognized a role for widows, deaconesses, and female monastics, which is not that of the liturgical priesthood, but one with a special relationship to care and therefore with particular implications for health care and a Christian bioethics of care in the twenty-first century. In the shadow of early male mortality, women as wives should turn to support their husbands and as widows to support those in need. Widows, in becoming authentic Christian monastics, can bring into the world an icon of rightly ordered women providing rightly ordered Christian care for those in need. They can enter the moral vacuum created by misunderstandings of the place of women and the service vacuum created by a disappearance of religious nuns in Western health care facilities with a presence that is at one with the Church of the Fathers.
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