Fr. Thomas Berg
Professor of Moral Theology
Saint Joseph's Seminary
Archdiocese of New York
Rev. Thomas Vincent Berg, M.A., Ph.D.
PhD, (Philosophy) Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, May 1999. Dissertation: The Value Ontology of Dietrich von Hildebrand: Toward a Reform of the Contemporary Notion of Value. Director: Fr Michael Ryan, LC, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy.
MA, (Liberal Studies) Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, May, 1997. Concentration in Political Science. Thesis: Human Nature and the American Democratic Experiment. Director: Dr Giulio Gallarotti, Dept of Government.
PhL, (Philosophy) Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, June 1996. Concentration in Systematic Philosophy. Thesis: Human Goods and the Incommensurability Thesis in the Natural Law Theory of John Finnis. Director: Fr Kevin Flannery, SJ.
PhB, (Philosophy) Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, June 1994.
BA, (Spanish Literature) The University of the State of New York, June 1993. Completed all credits for the major in Spanish Literature at Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1983-1986; “Marquette in Madrid” study program at the Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain, 1985-86.
Areas of specialization & research: (1) Moral philosophy: natural law theory, the Grisez-Finnis school of natural law theory; (2) general medical ethics; (3) beginning-of-life issues in bioethics: hESC research and “alternative sources” approaches; ontological and moral status of the human embryo.
Areas of competence: History of moral thought; philosophies of Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Von Hildebrand, Searle; philosophy of mind; value philosophy; phenomenology; philosophical anthropology; fundamental issues in bioethics.
Languages: Spanish (bilingual); Italian (proficient); Latin (proficient); Greek (moderate).
2011—present—Professor of Moral Theology, St. Joseph’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY. Courses taught: Fundamental Moral Theology; Virtue of Religion; Medical Ethics; Catholic Social Teaching; Penance and the Anointing of the Sick
2010 – 2012– Adjunct Professor of Moral Theology, The Institute for Religious Studies at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY.
2009 – 2011—Adjunct Professor of Medical Ethics, St. Joseph’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY.
1997 – 2009—Professor of Moral Philosophy, Center for Higher Studies of the Legion of Christ, Thornwood, NY. Courses and seminars taught: General Ethics; Seminar in preparation for final oral comprehensive examination; Epistemology; The Ontological and Moral Status of the Human Embryo; Cartesian Dualism–the Philosophical, Cultural and Moral Aftermath; Law, Order and Reason–Questions 90-97 of the Prima Secundae; Two Rival Anthropologies–Aristotle and Descartes; Von Hildebrand’s What is Philosophy?; Introduction to Value Theory; Logic.
Fall 2000—Adjunct faculty member of the Institute for Psychological Sciences, Arlington, VA. Taught “The Integration of the Human Person: Christian Perspectives,” a 3-credit graduate course exploring the historical roots and cultural consequences of anthropological dualism, and constructing in its wake a holistic framework for an adequate and integrated conception of human personhood.
1991 – 1993—Assistant professor of classical humanities at the Legionaries of Christ Center for Humanities, Cheshire, CT. Taught Advanced English Composition, 4th year Latin, Western Civilization, and Public Speaking.
1989 – 1991—Academic Director, Immaculate Conception Junior High School Center Harbor, NH. Taught 7th grade English, 9th grade English composition, 1st year Latin.
Articles in peer-reviewed journals
“A Revised Analysis of the ‘Phoenix Abortion Case’ and a Critique of NNL Intentionality,” Nova et Vetera, Spring 2017.
With John Travaline, “Perspectives on Directive 58,” The Linacre Quarterly, 78.1 (February 2011).
“Ethics Notes: a Brief Commentary on Selected Current Bioethics Matters,” The Linacre Quarterly, 77.4 (November 2010).
With Maureen Condic, “Emerging Biotechnology, the Defense of Embryonic Human Life, and Altered Nuclear Transfer,” The Linacre Quarterly, v. 75, no. 4 (November 2008): 268–290.
With E. Christian Brugger, “Abortion and Contraception in Catholic Moral Teaching: A Reply to Recent Objections,” Josephinum Journal of Theology, v.15, no. 2 (August 2008), 335-354.
“A reply to Malcolm Byrnes,” Colloquy, National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, v. 6, no. 2 (Summer 2006), 203-205.
“Human Brain Cells in Animal Brains: Philosophical and Moral Considerations,” National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, v. 6, no. 1 (Spring 2006), 89-107.
“Considerations of the Soul in Western Thought: Can Science Dialogue with Aristotle and Aquinas?” Fu Jen Religious Studies, no. 10 (Winter 2004), 17-49. Reprinted with permission and published in the collection Scienza e Fede, no. 6, Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum (ISBN 88-89174-28-5).
Articles in non-peer-reviewed specialized venues:
"Discerning a Call to Priesthood? Some Questions You Should be Asking Yourself,” Homiletic and Pastoral Review (October 2016). Available at: http://www.hprweb.com/2016/10/discerning-a-call-to-priesthood-some-questions-you-should-be-asking-yourself/
“Alasdair MacIntyr and The Myth of Moral Consensus,” Dunwoodie Review, v. 38 (2015), 134-142.
"Conscience, Freedom, and the ‘Law of Graduality’ at the Synod on the Family,” Homiletic and Pastoral Review (September 2015). Available at: http://www.hprweb.com/2015/09/conscience-freedom-and-the-law-of-graduality-at-the-synod-on-the-family/
“Exploring the Christological Nexus Between the Ascetical Life and the Moral Life,” Freedom and the Moral Law: Proceedings of the 36th Annual Convention of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, ed. Elizabeth Shaw, 83-103.
“What is Moral Conscience? Refuting four mistaken ideas about conscience in light of the natural law tradition,” Homiletic and Pastoral Review (January 2012). Available at: http://www.hprweb.com/2012/01/what-is-moral-conscience/
With Marie Hilliard and Mark Stegman, “Emergency Contraceptives and the Catholic Healthcare Establishment: A New Look at the Science and the Moral Question.” Westchester Institute White Paper 2(1): 1-30. Westchester Institute for Ethics & the Human Person, Thornwood, NY (June 2011). Available at: http://www.westchesterinstitute.net/resources/71-resources/507-white-paper
“The Moral Morass Around In Vitro Fertilization,” Ethics & Medics, v. 33, no.11 (November 2008), 3-4.
“The Personhood of the Human Embryo,” Homiletic and Pastoral Review v. 103, no. 7 (April 2003), 10-19.
Professional Activity & Institutional Leadership
November 2014-Present. Vice Rector. St. Joseph’s Seminary
June 2013- Present. Director of Admissions. St. Joseph’s Seminary
June 2011-Present. Formation Advisor. St. Joseph’s Seminary
Founder and Executive Director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person (1998 – 2011)
The Westchester Institute was a free standing virtual research institute conducting interdisciplinary, natural law analysis of complex, contemporary moral issues yet unresolved among Judeo-Christian scholars. Through the Scholars Forum (periodic invitation-only, closed door meetings of scholars) the Institute undeniably established itself as a foundational resource for intellectually honest and morally grounded analysis of the most difficult contemporary issues such as embryo adoption, altered nuclear transfer for creating pluripotent stem cells, and brain death. In addition it aimed to make the results of its research accessible to a broader public by means of publications and other instruments.
Invited lectures & papers delivered
June 11, 2016. Milwaukee, WI. Panel on ‘Brain Death.” Discussant on Christopher Tollefesen: "You will never be a brain dead organism.” University Faculty for Life Conference, Marquette University.
February 2, 2014. New York, NY. “The Francis Effect: What’s Happening in the Catholic Church?” To members of the Brick Presbyterian Adult Education gathering.
September 28, 2013. Philadelphia, PA. “Exploring the Christological Nexus Between the Ascetical Life and the Moral Life.” Paper delivered at the 2013 Convention of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.
April 20, 2013. “Cultural Challenges Facing the Pro-Life Movement in the New Evangelization.” To participants of the 13th annual Pro-Life Breakfast of the Northern Westchester and Putnam Center for Life Educational Trust.
October 22 & 24, 2012. “IVF: Why Not?” To priests of the Diocese of Rockville Center, NY as part of their “Clergy Days” gathering.
March 1, 2012. New Orleans, LA. With Dorinda Bordlee: “Religious Liberty, Obamacare and the HHS Contraceptive Mandate.” To faculty and seminarians of Notre Dame Seminary.
February 29, 2012. Covington, LA. “To Become Fire: On the Catholic Lay Response to the Present Moment of the Catholic Church in America.” Presented to members of the North Shore Chapter of Legatus.
January 19, 2012. New York, NY. “Emerging Biotechnologies and Human Self-Understanding.” The Siena Forum for Faith and Culture.
October 27, 2011. Yonkers, NY: “IVF: Why Not? Five Reasons from Catholic Teaching.” St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie).
October 22, 2011. Denver, CO: “Emerging Biotechnologies and Human Self-Understanding: Assessing the Past 15 Years.” Presented at the annual archdiocesan Gospel of Life Conference, John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization.
June 10, 2011. South Bend, IN: “The Role of Intention in the Moral Analysis of Life Issues, with commentary on the Phoenix abortion case.” Panel presentation with Fr. Kevin Flannery, S.J. University Faculty for Life Conference, University of Notre Dame.
May 23, 2008, New York, NY: “‘Right to Treatment’ vs. ‘Right to Conscience’: Problems with Our Moral Categories.” Presented at the Bioethics International & IHEU – New Dilemmas in Medicine Conference, United Nations Plaza. Panel III: Saying ‘No’ to Patients: Medical Professionals as Conscientious Objectors.
April 18, 2008, Buffalo, NY: “Emerging Biotechnology, Moral Judgment, and Altered Nuclear Transfer.” Niagara University/Eastern regional meeting of the Society of Christian Philosophers.
January 25, 2008, Ypsilanti, MI: “Emerging Biotechnologies, Moral Judgment, and the Defense of Embryonic Human Life.” Ave Maria School of Law – Distinguished Lecturers Series.
January 24, 2008, South Bend, IN: “Emerging Biotechnologies, Moral Judgment, and the Defense of Embryonic Human Life.” University of Notre Dame School of Law – sponsored by the Jus Vitae Right to Life organization.
October 6, 2007, Atlanta, GA: “Human Embryo Adoption: Marriage, Technology and the Right to Life.” Annual meeting of the Catholic Medical Association.
October 4, 2007, Cumming, GA: “Embryo-Destructive Research: Are there Alternatives?” Parent Association of Pincrest Academy Catholic School.
April 11, 2007, Baltimore, MD: “Embryo-Destructive Research: Are there Alternatives?” Presented to 40 members of Legatus of Baltimore.
March 21, 2007, Covington, KY: “Whatever Happened to Conscience?” Sponsored by The Newman Club of Northern Kentucky University.
October 7, 2006, Thornwood, NY: “The Meaning of Believing: Faith in the Thought of Benedict XVI”. Presented at the National Men’s Convention of the Regnum Christi Movement.
September 27, 2006, Raleigh, NC: “Defending Human Dignity.” Presented at the Christian Businessmen’s Leadership Roundtable.
September 15-16, 2006, Dayton, TN: “What Makes Man Moral?” Delivered at the Bryan Center for Critical Thought and Practice, fall seminar: “What is Man That Thou art Mindful?”
November 27, 2004, Taipei, Taiwan: “Considerations of the ‘Soul’ in Western Thought: Can Science Dialogue with Aristotle and Aquinas?” Delivered at The International Conference on Cosmology—Religion and Science in Dialogue, sponsored by Fu Jen Catholic University.
October 24-25, 2003, Steubenville, OH: “The Value-Language Phenomenon and the Imminent Tasks of Catholic Moral Philosophy.” Delivered at the annual national conference of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists.
July 17-19, 2003, Chicago, IL: “Biotech and the Status of Human Embryo: Is Dialogue Possible?” Delivered at the 10th annual national conference of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity (Remaking Humanity? Biotech Challenges for Healthcare, Science and the Church).
June 14, 2003, Thornwood, NY: “Spiritual Discernment—Part II” Lecture delivered via video-conferencing to lay spiritual guides of the Regnum Christi Movement.
October, 12, 2002, Thornwood, NY: “Spiritual Discernment—Part I” Lecture delivered via video-conferencing to lay spiritual guides of the Regnum Christi Movement.
May 13, 2002, Thornwood, NY: “Our Human Makeup and the Spiritual Life.” Lecture delivered via video-conferencing to lay spiritual guides of the Regnum Christi Movement.
December 28, 2001, Thornwood, NY: A two-part lecture entitled “An Overview of Some Current Moral Issues Regarding Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research” to 90 members of the Legion of Christ as part of a 4-day, in-house workshop on bioethics.
Workshops and seminars administered
October 5-6, 2010. Kerhonkson, NY: 5 lectures in a series entitled “An Overview of Contemporary Bioethical Issues” to the clergy of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Stamford, CT.
December 26-30, 2008, Edgerton, WI: 13 lectures in a series entitled “Issues in Bioethics” to 60 members of the Legionaries of Christ in a weeklong on-going formation seminar.
April 8-9, 2005, Regina, SA.: “Medicine and Moral Decision Making” at the Hotel Saskatchewan Radisson Plaza, sponsored by the Catholic Physicians Guild of Regina, Saskatchewan, under the auspices of the Westchester Institute. A 13-hour seminar for healthcare professionals accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada for CME units.
April 29-May 1, 2004, Irvington, TX.: “Catholic Morality in the Modern World. ” An 8-hour seminar for faculty of the Highlands School of Irvington.
July 7-10, 2003, Los Angeles, CA: 8 lectures on “Issues in Bioethics” to faculty and staff of the Escuela de la Fe.
November, 2002, Regina, SA: A weekend bioethics workshop for the Catholic Physicians Guild of Regina, Saskatchewan, organized and presented under the auspices of the Westchester Institute. Topics: “The Human Person and the Question of Human Dignity”; “Morality, Medical Practice, and the Status of the Human Embryo.”
June, 1998, Thornwood, NY: A five-day workshop via teleconferencing to 45 education professionals, members of the “Centro de Asesoría Pedagógica” of the Anáhuac Universityof Mexico. The course was entitled Antropología filosófica con algunos aspectos de ontología de la Persona, and consisted of 10 lectures.
April, 1999, Greenville, RI: 12 lectures on General Ethics and the Natural Law to 27 members of the Mater Ecclesiae Institute.
August, 1998, Dallas, TX: 7 lectures on Christian Anthropology to the 140 participants of the third annual Integer Course for headmasters, administrators, and educators of primary and secondary schools administered by the Legion of Christ.
December, 1997, Thornwood, NY: 9 lectures in a series entitled “Considerations of the Natural Law & Basic Principles of Christian Morality” to 40 members of the Legionaries of Christ in a weeklong on-going formation seminar.
Westchester Institute Scholars Forums organized and directed
November 6-7, 2008, Washington, DC: The eighth Scholars Forum on the topic of natural law and the Catholic Magisterium.
April 10-11, 2008, Washington, DC: The seventh Scholars Forum on the topic of brain death.
May 16-18, 2007, Washington, DC: The sixth Scholars Forum on the topic of defining the human embryo.
October 26-27, 2006, Washington, DC: The fifth Scholars Forum on the topic of the current state of de facto unions in light of Catholic moral and sacramental theology.
March 2-3, 2006, Washington, DC: The fourth Scholars Forum on the definitions of embryo and organismic human life.
November 3-4, 2005, Washington, DC: The third Scholars Forum on the topic of condom use to prevent the spread of HIV.
April 28-29, 2005, Washington, DC: The second Scholars Forum on the topic of altered nuclear transfer.
October 28-29, 2004, Washington, DC: The first Scholars Forum on the topic of heterologous embryo transfer.
Participation in conferences, colloquia, and scholarly gatherings
July 11-12, 2016. Naperville, Illinois. “Undoing the Knots that Bind: Treating Addiction in the Year of Mercy”. 15th Annual Guest House Summer Leadership Conference.
June 3-4, 2014. Washington, D.C. Symposium on the Definition of Death. Sponsored by Catholic University of America and Bioethics Defense Fund.
February 15-17, 2012. Notre Dame, Indiana. Symposium on the Charism of Priestly Celibacy. Sponsored by the Doctrine Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame University.
September 21, 2010, Philadelphia, PA: The Science, Ethics and Politics of Vaccine Mandates. Organized by the The Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.
May 13, 2007, New York, NY: Panelist. New York University School of Journalism, Institutes for Journalists, entitled “Cells and Souls.”
January 20, 2006, Washington, DC: Participated in the annual Healthcare Right of Conscience Working Group Conference at the Family Research Council. Reported on the progress being made with adult stem cells and “pluripotent stem cells” as alternatives to destroying human embryos.
June 21, 2005, Washington, DC: Round table participant. Religious and Ethical Reflections on the End of Life. Sponsored by the Culture of Life Institute and the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
March 7-8, 2005, Rome, Italy: Participant. “The Global State of Stem Cells and Cloning.” Sponsored by the Culture of Life Institute, the Discovery Institute, The Federalist Society, and the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum.
November 13-14, 2001, Rome, Italy: Participant. “The Stem Cell Dilemma: For the Good of All Human Beings?” sponsored by the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum.
Conference sessions organized or chaired
September 20, 2008, Washington, DC: Culture of Life Institute. “The Culture of Life vs. The Culture of Death: From Humanae Vitae to Cloning and Assisted Suicide.” Moderator for Panel Two: From Contraception to the Commodification of Humanity.
Additional institutional leadership
September 2000 – December 2002. Senior coordinator of the taskforce overseeing the launch of the University of Sacramento.
1989 – 1991. Academic Director of the Immaculate Conception Apostolic School in Center Harbor, New Hampshire, a minor seminary for boys, grades 7 through 12. During his tenure, oversaw the institute’s academic re-accreditation.
Appointments and board memberships
January 2011 — present: Member, Pro-Life Commission of the Archdiocese of New York
September 2010 – October 2013: Member, New York State Task Force on Life and the Law
February 2009 – present: Committee of Moral Theologians, New York State Catholic Conference
September 2007 – April 2012: Member, Ethics Committee, Empire State Stem Cell Board
2005 – 2008: Member, Board of Trustees, The University of Sacramento, Sacramento, CA
2002 – 2009: Member, Board of Directors, The Institute for the Psychological Sciences, Arlington, Va.
Television & radio appearances and area lectures
Frequent guest speaker at parishes on bioethical and healthcare ethics issues; commonly interviewed on radio and television as an expert on diverse bioethical issues including stem cells, cloning, and “living wills”; frequent contributor to National Review Online, and has published or been quoted in dozens of news sources including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
Membership in scholarly societies
2011-present University Faculty for Life
2008-present International Association of Catholic Bioethicists
2006-2008 The Society of Christian Philosophers
2002-2008 American Catholic Philosophical Association
2002-2007 Fellowship of Catholic Scholars
2003-present National Catholic Bioethics Center
2003-2004 The Hastings Center
2003-2004 Society of Catholic Social Scientists
2008 – present. Contributing editor. The Linacre Quarterly of the Catholic Medical Association.
2007 – 2011. Editor. The Westchester Institute White Paper Series.
2004 – 2009. Editorial consultant to the National Catholic Register.
January 2003 – 2005. Consultant for the launch of the University of Sacramento.
September 2000 – December 2002. Senior coordinator for the launch of the University of Sacramento.
January 1997 – December 1998. Advisor to National Consultants for Education, an organization founded to provide assistance to independent Catholic schools across the US and Canada in the area of curriculum, school operations, administration, and teacher formation.
September 1, 2011- December 2015. Weekend Associate. St. James the Apostle Parish, Carmel, NY.
July 1, 2010- June 30 2011. Parochial Vicar. St. Denis Parish, Yonkers, NY.
July 1, 2009- June 30 2010. Parochial Vicar. St. Columba Parish, Hopewell Junction, NY.
April 1, 2009- June 30, 2009. Weekend Associate. St. Denis Parish, Hopewell Junction, NY.
2001 – 2009 Retreat master—Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. Have directed four-day and eight-day retreats for diocesan clergy and laity.
March 2000 – May 2001; January 2003 to May 2005. Pre-Cana marriage preparation and “3-to-Get-Married” program coordinator. Directed numerous one-day and three-day marriage preparation programs for over 500 engaged couples and gave presentations on marriage and human sexuality, and the sacramentality of marriage.
Confessor and spiritual director for laity, women religious, and diocesan clergy.