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Pope Benedict on Brain Death

Posted Nov 13 2008 2:06pm
The next dispute over the medical treatment may be brought not by Orthodox Jews but by Roman Catholics. On Friday, the Holy Father addressed participants at an international congress organized by the Pontifical Academy for Life on the theme of organ donation. The Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano

translated his remarks. I reprint relevant excerpts below. A more in depth analysis of brain death criteria for death is available from the Vatican site.

"[I]individual vital organs cannot be extracted except ex cadavere . . ..
In these years science has accomplished further progress in certifying the death of the patient. It is good, therefore, that the results attained receive the consent of the entire scientific community in order to further research for solutions that give certainty to all."

"In an area such as this, in fact, there cannot be the slightest suspicion of arbitration and where certainty has not been attained the principle of precaution must prevail. This is why it is useful to promote research and interdisciplinary reflection to place public opinion before the most transparent truth on the anthropological, social, ethical and juridical implications of the practice of transplantation."

"[I]n these cases the principal criteria of respect for the life of the donator must always prevail so that the extraction of organs be performed only in the case of his/her true death (cf. Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 476)."
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