About E. Christian Brugger

Christian Brugger was born June 29, 1964, in New York City. He was the second child of Eugene C. Brugger, a first generation, German-American Lutheran, who had been born in the back of his father’ s delicatessen in Brooklyn on August 1, 1929, and became a graduate of NYU and NYU Law School; and of Adalyn Sherwood Kearns, a Methodist from High Point, North Carolina, who was a débutante and a graduate of Duke University. Christian was baptized at St. George Episcopal Church in lower Manhattan on December 6, 1964.

Due to the decline in public education in New York City in the 1960s, the Bruggers moved to the New Jersey suburbs in 1967, where they spent the next fifteen years. Brugger grew up as a believing but non-practicing Protestant. In 1977, he experienced two significant events that shaped his life: his parents divorced, and he had a personal conversion to Jesus Christ through contact with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

Brugger began undergraduate studies in chemistry at Seton Hall University in New Jersey in the Fall of 1982. At the same time, he connected with a new religious community in the Newark Archdiocese, the Brotherhood of Hope, with which he remained closely affiliated for the next ten years. Brugger entered the Catholic Church in his freshman year of college. In 1985 he transferred to Rutgers University in New Brunswick and graduated in 1987 with a B.A. in Biology.

He left the Brotherhood in 1992 and began M.A. studies in moral theology, again at Seton Hall University. In 1994 he married Melissa Duggan, a young and beautiful cradle Catholic from Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, who was then working as a geriatrics recreational therapist. After Brugger completed his M.A. in 1994, he and Melissa moved to Somerville, Massachusetts, and he began studies at Harvard Divinity School. In 1995, their first child, Rose Laetare, was born.

After Brugger graduated from Harvard in 1996 with a Masters in moral philosophy, the family moved to England, and he studied at Oxford University. In 1997 he received a Masters in Christian Ethics from Oriel College, Oxford. The same year, their first son, Christian Augustine, was born. Brugger graduated in 2000 with a D.Phil. from St. Hugh’ s College, Oxford. His dissertation supervisors were John M. Finnis of University College, Oxford, and Oliver O’Donovan of Christ Church College. Brugger and his family spent his fourth and final year of doctoral study with the Jesuits at Die Hochschule für Philosophie in Munich, generously funded by fellowships from the Earhart Foundation and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

In 2000, Brugger became an Assistant Professor of Ethics in the Religious Studies Department at Loyola University New Orleans. That same year, the Bruggers’ third child, Mary Christine, was born. In 2002 he became a Senior Fellow at the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person, which turned his attention to issues in bioethics. In 2003, Notre Dame University Press published his first book, Capital Punishment and Roman Catholic Moral Tradition, a reworking of his doctoral dissertation. The same year, a fourth child, Sophia Grace, was born and one month later died of an infection.

Brugger moved in 2004 to the Institute for the Psychological Sciences (IPS), a Catholic graduate school of clinical psychology in Arlington, Virginia, and began teaching courses in theology and philosophy. In 2006 he was promoted to Associate Professor and became the Director of Integrative Research overseeing the IPS’s scholarly effort to integrate clinical psychology with relevant truths of philosophical and theological anthropology. In 2006 the Bruggers also welcomed their fifth child, Edmund Peter.

While at IPS, Brugger published widely in moral theology, moral philosophy, and in the interdisciplinary field of psychology and Christian anthropology. In 2007 he also taught as an adjunct professor of bioethics for the School of Philosophy at the Catholic University of America and became the Senior Fellow of Ethics at the Culture of Life Foundation in Washington, D.C. On that organization’s website, he publishes a bi-monthly article in bioethics.

In July 2008, Brugger became an Associate Professor of Moral Theology at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Colorado.  In 2010 he was awarded the J. Francis Stafford Chair of Moral Theology, the first endowed chair in the seminary’s history. He serves as a bioethical advisor to the bishops of Denver and to the Denver chapter of the Catholic Medical Association.  He is also a member of the board of directors of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.

The Bruggers welcomed their third son, Thomas Athanasius Brugger, into the world in October 2009. Christian, Melissa, their children, the family’ s dog, hedgehog, snakes, skunk, tarantulas, gerbil, and toad live together in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, twenty-five miles west of Denver.

Christian Brugger’s Publications


Capital Punishment and Roman Catholic Moral Tradition, University of Notre Dame Press, 2003.

Articles in Scholarly Journals

“D. Alan Shewmon and The President’s Council on Bioethics’ White Paper on Brain Death: Are Brain-Dead Patients Dead?” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 34 (2009): forthcoming.

Introductory and concluding essays for symposium: “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dignitas Personae,National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, 9:3 (2009): forthcoming.

“Psychology and Christian Anthropology,” and “The Task of Practical Implementation,” Edification: Journal of the Society for Christian Psychology, 3:1 (Summer 2009), forthcoming.

“‘Other Selves’: Moral and Legal Proposals Regarding the Personhood of Cryopreserved Human Embryos,” Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, 30:2 (2009): 105–29.

“The 2003 Iraq War: A Catholic Just War Assessment,” Irish Theological Quarterly, 79 (2009): 130–54.

“Christian Integrative Reasoning: Reflections on the Nature of Integrating Clinical Psychology with Catholic Theology and Philosophy,” The Catholic Social Science Review, 13 (2008): 129–67.

“Anthropological Foundations for Clinical Psychology: A Proposal,” with the Institute for Psychological Sciences faculty, Journal of Psychology and Theology, 36:1 (Spring 2008): 3–15.

“Rejecting the Death Penalty: Continuity and Change in Catholic Tradition,” Heythrop Journal, 49:3 (2008), 388–404.

“Aquinas on the Immateriality of Intellect: A Non-materialist reply to Materialist Objections,” National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, 8:1 (2008) 103–19.

“Altered Nuclear Transfer–Oocyte Assisted Reprogramming (ANT-OAR): A Morally Acceptable Means for Deriving Pluripotent Stem Cells: A Reply to Criticisms,” Communio: International Catholic Review, 32:4 (2005): 753–69.

“Action, Intention and Self-Determination,” Vera Lex: Journal of the International Natural Law Society, 6:1–2 (Winter 2005), 79–106.

“In Defense of Transferring Heterologous Embryos,” National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, 5:1 (2005): 96–112.

“Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching,” Josephinum Journal of Theology, 11:2 (2004): 182–215.

“Aquinas and Capital Punishment: The Plausibility of the Traditional Argument,” Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy,18:2 (2004): 357–72.

“Bioethical Controversies and the Language of Rights,” Global Virtue Ethics Review, 5:1 (April 2004), 33–49.

“Catholic Moral Teaching and the Problem of Capital Punishment,” Thomist, 68:1 (2004): 41–67.

Essays in Proceedings and
  Other Volumes

“Aquinas on Praeter Intentionem,Catholic Studies in Bioethics: Festschrift in honor of Joseph Boyle, ed. Christopher Tollefsen (Dordrecht: Springer), forthcoming.

“Altered Nuclear Reprogramming and Efficient Causality,” Life and Learning: Proceedings of the Seventeenth University Faculty for Life Conference: 2007, ed. Joseph W. Koterski, S.J. (2008), 369–378.

“Bodiliness and Relationality in Philosophy and Psychology,” in After 40 Years: Vatican Council II’s Diverse Legacy, ed. Kenneth D. Whitehead (South Bend: St. Augustine’s Press, 2007), 108–20.

“A Primer on Stem Cells,” in Medical Ethics: Current Controversies, ed. Laura K. Egendorf (Greenhaven Press, 2005).

“Catholic Moral Teaching and the Problem of Capital Punishment,” in The Catholic Citizen: Debating the Issues of Justice, ed. Kenneth D. Whitehead (South Bend, Ind.: St. Augustine’s Press, 2004), 123–48.

“Recent Changes in Authoritative Catholic Teaching on Capital Punishment,” in Capital Punishment: Three Catholic Views, ed. Robert Royal (Washington, D.C.: Faith and Reason Institute, 2003), 16–26.

“To Kill or Not To Kill: The Catholic Church and the Problem of the Death Penalty,” in Readings in Moral Theology, vol. 13: “Change in Official Catholic Moral Teachings,” ed. Charles Curran (New York: Paulist, 2003), 145–68; also in Blueprint for Social Justice, 57:1–2 (Sept.–Oct. 2003), 1–7.

Items in Encyclopedias and Manuals

“Atomic Weapons, ‘Nuclear’, History and Moral Questions Concerning,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America, 2010), forthcoming.

“Stem Cells,” in Catholic Health Care Ethics: A Manual for Ethics Committees (Brighton, Mass.: National Catholic Bioethics Center, 2007).

“Evangelium Vitae,” “Gregory VII,” and “John Finnis,” in Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy, ed. J. Varacalli, S. Krason, and R. Myers (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2007).