Washington, D.C. (9 September 2008) – Judie Brown, president of American Life League and member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, is requesting that the Academy postpone a November conference on the ethics of organ transplantation entitled "A Gift for Life."
Also cosponsoring the event is the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations and the Italian National Transplant Center.
"I joined with Professor Joseph Seifert in asking the leadership of the Academy to reconsider the subject matter of the conference," Brown said in a Sep. 9 column. "Perhaps the conference could be postponed until the members of the Academy discuss concerns privately within the context of a closed-door meeting."
Noted philosopher Joseph Seifert has questioned the validity of "brain death" as acceptable criteria for death and therefore for organ donating. Organ donation often requires the organ donor be alive in order to be removed, even though the brain is considered "dead."
"The new question is whether functions of the brain are the only thing that keeps body and soul together, that bind the soul to the body, or that are the source of the incarnated presence of the soul. That, I think, is extremely doubtful. . . . The mystery of how body and soul are united exceeds just brain function. It's not just an isolated presence in a single organ," Seifert said in an interview with the Catholic Education Resource Center.
Other voices questioning "brain death" include Dr. Paul Byrne, prominent columnist, neonatologist and past president of the Catholic Medical Association; Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Nebraska; and Bishop Robert Vasa of Oregon.
"The official magisterium of the Catholic Church has not spoken definitively on the particular question of brain death. So why is the Pontifical Academy for Life cohosting this conference?" Brown asked. "According to the program the subject of organ donations will be high on the agenda and discussions will clearly include a discussion of brain death. At the same time, the insights and experiences of men like Dr. Paul Byrne, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz and Professor Joseph Seifert, among others, will be neglected by the program."
American Life League was cofounded in 1979 by Judie Brown. It is the largest grassroots Catholic pro-life organization in the United States and is committed to the protection of all innocent human beings from the moment of creation to death. For more information or media inquiries, please contact Katie Walker at 540.659.4942.
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