Fr. Peter Ryan, a Jesuit priest known for his defense of Church teaching, is slated to step up in August as the executive director of the U.S. Bishops' Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs.

"Father Ryan's considerable expertise on bio-ethical issues is vital as contemporary society addresses moral challenges inherent in biotechnology, medical ethics and environmentalism," said Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, general secretary of the U.S. bishops' conference.

"He brings a depth of theological knowledge to these and other areas, including the study and teaching of systematic theology, that are critical to the Church today and to the strategic priorities adopted by the bishops," Msgr. Jenkins added.

Fr. Ryan will replace the retiring Fr. Thomas Weinandy, a Capuchin priest, as the executive director of the Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The appointment will be effective August 19.

The Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs is responsible for executing directives of the U.S. bishop's committee on doctrine, ensuring that work done by Catholic theologians in the country upholds Church teaching.

In addition, the executive director of the office also helps the bishops' Subcommittee on Health Care Issues and Subcommittee on the Translation of Scripture Texts.

Fr. Ryan received his licentiate and doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University in Rome, and holds numerous degrees in English, divinity, philosophy and political science from colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.

In addition, Fr. Ryan has served as a professor of moral theology at Kenrick-Gennon Seminary, Mount St. Mary's Seminary, and an assistant professor of theology at Loyola College in Maryland.

Fr. Ryan has gained attention for a defense of the Church's prohibition of divorce and remarriage, co-authored by Fr. Peter Ryan and Dr. Germain Grisez, and supported by the Vatican.

He has also written on ethical and theological issues such as "Ex Corde Ecclesiae," the Eucharist, and the moral obligation to embryos abandoned following in-vitro fertilization.

He has been published in a number of journals, including Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, the National Catholic Bioethical Quarterly, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly and American Journal of Jurisprudence.

Fr. Ryan is a former member of the board of directors of The Cardinal Newman Society, a three-time member of the executive board of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, and a prior senior fellow with the Westchester Institute for Ethics & the Human Person.

The incoming executive director is able to read and speak English, Italian, French and German, and is also able to read Latin and Spanish.