These words are from the heart of God … for the heart of God.

Archive for February 22, 2011

Organ Transplants and Cloning

FR. WILLIAM SAUNDERS

I saw an article in the Post about the Holy Father condemning the cloning of human embryos for organ transplants. Would you please explain better the Church’s teaching on this subject?

 

In general, the Catholic Church approves organ transplantation, as reiterated by Pope John Paul II in an Address to the International Congress of Transplants on Aug. 29. Quoting from his encyclical The Gospel of Life, the Holy Father said, “…One way of nurturing a genuine culture of life is the donation of organs, performed in an ethically acceptable manner, with a view to offering a chance of health and even of life itself to the sick who sometimes have no other hope” (No. 86). This teaching echoes the Catechism: “Organ transplants conform with the moral law and can be meritorious if the physical and psychological dangers and risks incurred by the donor are proportionate to the good sought for the recipient” (No. 2296). To better understand this teaching, let’s take it one step at a time. Keep in mind that the issue was first clearly addressed by Pope Pius XII in the 1950s, and then has been refined with the advances in this field of medicine.

First a distinction is made between transplanting organs (including tissue) from a dead person to a living person, versus transplanting organs (including tissue) from a living person to another living person. In the first instance, when the organ donor is a dead person, no moral concern arises. Pope Pius XII taught, “A person may will to dispose of his body and to destine it to ends that are useful, morally irreproachable and even noble, among them the desire to aid the sick and suffering. One may make a decision of this nature with respect to his own body with full realization of the reverence which is due it…. This decision should not be condemned but positively justified” (Allocution to a Group of Eye Specialists, May 14, 1956).

Basically, if the organs of a deceased person, such as a kidney, a heart, or a cornea, can help save or improve the life of a living person, then such a transplant is morally good and even praiseworthy. Note that the donor must give his free and informed consent prior to his death, or his next of kin must do so at the time of their relative’s death: “Organ transplants are not morally acceptable if the donor or those who legitimately speak for him have not given their informed consent” (Catechism, No. 2296).

One caution needs to be made: The success of an organ transplant significantly depends upon the freshness of the organ, meaning that the transplant procedure must take place as soon as possible after the donor has died. However, the donor must not be declared dead prematurely or his death hastened just to utilize his organs. The moral criterion demands that the donor must be dead before his organs are used for transplantation. To avoid a conflict of interest, the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act requires that “The time of death be determined by the physician who attends the donor at his death, or, if none, the physician who certifies the death. This physician shall not participate in the procedures for removal or transplanting a part” (Section 7(b)). While this caution does not impact upon the morality of organ transplantation per se, the dignity of the dying person must be preserved, and to hasten his death or to terminate his life to acquire organs for transplant is immoral. Here again the Catechsim teaches, “It is morally inadmissible directly to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons” (No. 2296), a point underscored by the Holy Father in his recent address (cf. No. 4).

The transplantation of organs from a living donor to another person is more complicated. The ability to perform the first kidney transplant in 1954 caused a great debate among theologians. The debate focused on the principle of totality — whereby certain circumstances permit a person to sacrifice one part or function of the body for the interest of the whole body. For instance, a person may remove a diseased organ to preserve the health of his whole body, such as removing a cancerous uterus. These theologians, however, argued that a person cannot justify the removal of a healthy organ and incur the risk of future health problems when his own life is not in danger, as in the case of a person sacrificing a healthy kidney to donate to a person in need. Such surgery, they held, entails an unnecessary mutilation of the body and is thereby immoral.

Other theologians argued from the point of fraternal charity, namely that a healthy person who donates a kidney to a person in need is making a genuine act of sacrifice to save that person’s life. Such generosity is modeled after our Lord’s sacrifice of Himself on the cross, and reflects His teaching at the Last Supper: “This is my commandment: Love one another as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:12-13). Such a sacrifice, these theologians held, is morally acceptable if the risk of harm to the donor, both from the surgery itself and the loss of the organ, is proportionate to the good for the recipient.

Moving from this reasoning, these “pro-transplant” theologians re-examined the principle of totality. They argued that while organ transplants from living donors may not preserve anatomical or physical integrity (i.e. there is a loss of a healthy organ), they do comply with a functional totality (i.e. there is the preservation of the bodily functions and system as a whole). For instance, a person can sacrifice one healthy kidney (a loss of anatomical integrity) and still be able to maintain health and proper bodily functions with the remaining kidney; such a donation would be morally permissible. Using the same reasoning, however, a person cannot sacrifice an eye to give to a blind person, because such an act impairs the bodily functions of the individual.

Pope Pius XII agreed with this understanding of charity and the broader interpretation of the principle of totality, and thereby declared organ transplants from living donors morally acceptable. He underscored the point that the donor is making a sacrifice of himself for the good of another person. Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has also emphasized this point: A…Every organ transplant has its source in a decision of great ethical value: the decision to offer without reward a part of one’s own body for the health and well-being of another person’“ (Address to the Participants in a Congress on Organ Transplants, June 20 1991, No. 3). Here precisely lies the nobility of the gesture, a gesture which is a genuine act of love. It is not just a matter of giving away something that belongs to us but of giving something of ourselves . . .” (No. 3).

Nevertheless, the transplantation of organs from a living donor to another person must fulfill four criteria: (1) the risk involved to the donor in such a transplant must be proportionate to the good obtained for the recipient; (2) the removal of the organ must not seriously impair the donor’s health or bodily function; (3) the prognosis of acceptance is good for the recipient, and (4) the donor must make an informed and free decision recognizing the potential risks involved.

Having established the basic moral teaching governing organ transplants, we need to address several issues which impact upon their morality. While the advances of medical science have enabled the transplantation of organs with increasing success, certain procedures that have been introduced may be possible but not morally acceptable. What is technologically possible is not always morally good. In judging the morality of a procedure, one must maintain the dignity of the human person, who is both body and soul.

As Pope John Paul II taught, “An this area of medical science too the fundamental criterion must be the defense and promotion of the integral good of the human person, in keeping with that unique dignity which is ours by virtue of our humanity. Consequently, it is evident that every medical procedure performed on the human person is subject to limits: not just the limits of what is technically possible, but also limits determined by respect for human nature itself, understood in its fullness: ‘what is technically possible is not for that reason alone morally admissible’ (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Donum Vitae, #4)” (Address to the International Congress on Transplants, No. 2).

One issue concerns the use of animal organs for transplantation to human beings, such as using the heart valve of a pig to replace a human heart valve. This kind of transplantation is called a xenotransplant. First addressed by Pope Pius XII in 1956, the Church maintains that such transplants are morally acceptable on three conditions: (1) the transplanted organ does not impair the integrity of the genetic or psychological identity of the recipient, (2) the transplant has a proven biological record of possible success, and (3) the transplant does not involve inordinate risk for the recipient. (Cf. Pius XII, Address to the Italian Association of Cornea Donors and to Clinical Oculists and Legal Medical Practitioners, May 14, 1956.)

A second issue concerns the use of organs or tissues from aborted children (such as those murdered through partial birth abortion procedures). Actually a lucrative organ “Harvesting” industry is developing which utilizes the organs and tissues of aborted fetuses. A critical point here is that these abortions are performed with the intention of utilizing the organs or tissues of the infant, and in direct conjunction with a particular recipient in mind.

Another facet of this issue is when a child is conceived naturally or through in vitro fertilization to obtain the best genetic match, and then born or even aborted simply for organs or tissues. For example, recently a couple conceived a child for the sole purpose of being a bone marrow donor for another sibling suffering from leukemia; while the conceived child determined to be a good match while still in the womb and was born, one must wonder if the child would have been aborted if he had not been a good match. To participate in an abortion to obtain organs, to conceive a child for organs, or to knowingly use organs from aborted fetuses is morally wrong.

This issue has even become more complicated with the technological research in cloning. Some researchers hope to grow tissue and even organs from stem cells retrieved from human embryos; however, to do so necessitates the destruction of the embryo. Since human life begins at conception and is sacred from that very moment, such destruction is immoral. Pope John Paul II, affirming consistent Catholic principles, asserted, A…These techniques, insofar as they involve the manipulation and destruction of human embryos, are not morally acceptable, even when their proposed goal is good in itself” (Address to International Congress on Transplants, No. 8). Basically, the end does not justify the means. However, the Holy Father encouraged scientists to pursue paths of research which involve using adult stem cells, and which avoid cloning and the use of embryonic cells. In sum, any research must respect the dignity of the human person from the moment of conception.

Another moral question involves the distribution and assignment of organs to waiting recipients. Essentially, the number of recipients exceeds the number of available organs for transplant. While no perfect system will ever exist, the plan of assignment should not be discriminatory (based on age, sex, race, social status, and the like) or utilitarian (based on work capacity, social usefulness, and the like) but should strive to recognize the intrinsic value of each person. Instead, the assignment of organs to donors should proceed on immunological and clinical factors.

Finally, whether someone can sell one of his own organs for transplantation is another issue. The answer is a definitive “No.” The selling of an organ violates the dignity of the human being, eliminates the criterion of true charity for making such a donation, and promotes a market system which benefits only those who can pay, again violating genuine charity. Pope John Paul II has repeatedly underscored this teaching: AA transplant, even a simple blood transfusion, is not like other operations. It must not be separated from the donor’s act of self-giving, from the love that gives life” (Address to the First International Congress of the Society for Organ Sharing, June 24, 1991) and “Accordingly, any procedure which tends to commercialize human organs or to consider them as items for exchange or trade must be considered morally unacceptable, because to use the body as an ‘object’ is to violate the dignity of the human person” (Address to the International Congress on Transplants, No. 3).

Therefore, organ donation is morally permissible under certain conditions. The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services provides the following guidance: “The transplantation of organs from living donors is morally permissible when such a donation will not sacrifice or seriously impair any essential bodily function and the anticipated benefit to the recipient is proportionate to the harm done to the donor. Furthermore, the freedom of the donor must be respected, and economic advantages should not accrue to the donor” (No. 30). Generally, in the case of donating organs after death, the gifts that God has given to us to use in this life — our eyes, hearts, liver, and so on — can be passed on to someone in need. In the case of donating organs while alive, such as giving a healthy kidney to a relative in need, the donor needs to weigh all of the implications; in charity, a potential donor may decide he can not offer an organ, such as if he were a parent and would not want to increase the risk of not being able to care for his own dependent children. Although organ donation is not mandatory, it is commendable as an act of charity.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSaunders, Rev. William. “The Role of Godparents.” Arlington Catholic Herald.This article is reprinted with permission from Arlington Catholic Herald.

 

THE AUTHOR

 Father William Saunders is dean of the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College and pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish in Sterling, Virginia. The above article is a “Straight Answers” column he wrote for the Arlington Catholic Herald. Father Saunders is also the author of Straight Answers, a book based on 100 of his columns and published by Cathedral Press in Baltimore.


Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mother, Mother of God

The Blessed Virgin Mary was born to St. Joachim and St. Anne, to be the famous WOMAN promised in the Proto-evangelium who would crush the head of the serpent. By being exempt from original sin and living a life in perfect fulfilment of the Will of God, She was visited by the Archangel Gabriel with this message:

“Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with Thee.

Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever. “

She conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit the Saviour of the world Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Lady lived a humble life as the Mother of Our Saviour, and as the spouse of St. Joseph, She lived the most virtuous life, and accompanied Jesus all the way to Calvary.

The Blessed Virgin Mary didn’t die in the human way because She was exempt from original sin, and She was immaculate. She passed from this physical existence into the realm of the spirit in an ecstasy of love. The Fathers of the Church speak about her “dormition”, and that after three days She was assumed in body and soul into Heaven.

She is the Queen of Heaven and the Queen of all Creation, her holiness surpasses the holiness of all the saints and angels put together. By her dignity of being the Mother of God, She is our advocate before Him and at the foot of the cross She was given to us in the person of John as our Mother.

” Behold your mother “

She is the woman clothed with the sun as portrayed in the Apocalypse, She is the New Jerusalem, the City of God, the Mountain of Zion so spoken of in the Holy Scriptures, She is the Living Tabernacle of the Divinity. A true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary will lead us to Jesus.

Her message is ” Do whatever He tells you “

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Details of her life as revealed to the Venerable Sister Maria of Agreda

327. She was born pure and stainless, beautiful and full of grace, thereby demonstrating , that She was free from the law and the tribute of sin.

Although She was born substantially like other daughters of Adam, yet her birth was accompanied by such circumstances and conditions of Grace, that it was the most wonderful and miraculous birth in all creation and will eternally redound to the praise of Her Maker. At twelve o’clock in the night this divine luminary issued forth, dividing the night of the ancient law and its pristine darkness from the new day of Grace, which now was about to break into dawn.

She was clothed, handled and dressed like other infants, though Her soul dwelt in the divinity ; and She was treated as an infant, though She excelled all mortals and even all the angels in Wisdom. Her mother did not allow Her to be touched by other hands than her own, but She herself wrapped her in swaddling clothes : and in this Saint Anne was not hindered by her presence state of childbirth; for she was free from the toils and labours which other mothers usually endure in such circumstances.

 

At the age of three the little child was taken to the temple and the parents suffered great sorrow but at the same time joy for fulfilling the vows they had made to the Lord.

The Queen of Heaven, was received by holy priest Simeon to be placed at the care of the prophetess Anne.

The child Mary, when brought to her teacher, knelt in profound humility before her and asked her blessing. She begged to be admitted among those under her direction, obedience and counsel, and asked her kind forbearance in the labour and trouble, which She would occasion. The prophetess Anne, her teacher, received Her with pleasure and said to Her: My daughter, Thou shall find in me a helpful mother and I will take care of Thee and of Thy education with all possible solicitude.

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Feasts

1 January

2 February, Purification

25 March, Annunciation by Saint Gabriel

31 May, Visitation by Mary to Saint Elizabeth

2 August, Virgin of Los Angeles

15 August, Assumption into Heaven

8 September, Birthday; Feast of the Virgin of Charity

15 September, Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

21 November, Presentation of Mary at the Temple

8 December, Mary’s Immaculate Conception

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Titles ( some )

The Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary, Help of Christians

Mary, Mother of God

Mary, Queen of Heaven and earth

Mary, Queen of Angels

Mary, Queen of Peace

Mary, Queen of the family

Mary, Queen of Africa

Mary, Star of the Sea

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

Adam’s Deliverance

Advocate of Eve

Advocate of Sinners

All Chaste

All Fair and Immaculate

All Good

Aqueduct of Grace

Archetype of Purity and Innocence

Ark Gilded by the Holy Spirit

Ark of the Covenant Assumption of the Blessed Virgin

Basilica of Saint Mary Major

Blessed Among Women

Blessed Virgin Mary

Bridal Chamber of the Lord

Bride of Christ

Bride of Heaven

Bride of the Canticle

Bride of the Father

Bride Unbrided

Cause of Our Joy

Chosen Before the Ages

Comfort of Christians

Comforter of the Afflicted

Conceived Without Original Sin

Consoler of the Afflicted

Co-Redemptrix

Court of the Eternal King

Created Temple of the Creator

Crown of Virginity

Daughter of Men

David’s Daughter

Deliverer From All Wrath

Deliverer of Christian Nations

Destroyer of Heresies

Dispenser of Grace

Dwelling Place for God

Dwelling Place Meet for God

Dwelling Place of the Illimitable

Dwelling Place of the Spirit

Earth Unsown

Earth Untouched and Virginal

Eastern Gate

Ever Green and Fruitful

Ever Virgin

Eve’s Tears Redeeming

Exalted Above the Angels

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Fleece of Heavenly Rain

Flower of Jesse’s Root

Formed Without Sin

Forthbringer of God

Forthbringer of the Ancient of Days

Forthbringer of the Tree of Life

Fountain of Living Water

Fountain Sealed

Free From Every Stain

Full of Grace

Garden Enclosed

Gate of Heaven

God’s Eden

God’s Olive Tree

God’s Vessel

Handmaid of the Lord

Healing Balm of Integrity

Health of the Sick

Helper of All in Danger

Holy in Soul and Body

Holy Mountain of Our Lady

Hope of Christians

House Built by Wisdom

House of Gold

Immaculate

Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Heart

Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Mary

Immaculate Mother

Immaculate Virgin

Incorruptible Wood of the Ark

Inventrix of Grace

Inviolate

Joseph’s Spouse

Kingly Throne

King’s Mother

Lady Most Chaste

Lady Most Venerable

Lady of Good Help

Lady of Grace

Lady of Mercy

Lady of Peace

Lady of Perpetual Help

Lady of the Rosary

Lady of Sorrows

Lady of Victory

Lamp Unquenchable

Life-Giver to Posterity

Light Cloud of Heavenly Rain

Lily Among Thorns

Living Temple of the Diety

Loom of the Incarnation

Madonna of Saint Luke

Marketplace for Salutary Exchange

Mary of the Hurons

Mary the Blessed Virgin

Mary, Blessed Virgin

Mediatrix

Mediatrix and Conciliatrix

Mediatrix of All Graces

Mediatrix of Salvation

Mediatrix of the Mediator

Minister of Life

Mirror of Justice

More Beautiful Than Beauty

More Glorious Than Paradise More Gracious Than Grace

More Holy Than the Cherubim, the Seraphim, and the Entire Angelic Hosts

Morning Star

Most Venerable

Mother and Virgin

Mother Most Admirable

Mother Most Amiable

Mother Most Chaste

Mother Most Pure

Mother Inviolate

Mother of Christians

Mother of Christ’s Members

Mother of Divine Grace

Mother of God

Mother of Good Counsel

Mother of Jesus Christ

Mother of Men

Mother of Our Creator

Mother of Our Head

Mother of Our Saviour

Mother of the Church

Mother of the Mystical Body

Mother of Wisdom

Mother Undefiled

My Body’s Healing

My Soul’s Saving

Mystical Rose

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin

Nature’s Re-Creation

Nature’s Restoration

Neck of the Mystical Body

Never Fading Wood

New Eve

Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris

Notre Dame of Chartres

Notre Dame of Easton

Nourisher of God and Man

Olive Tree of the Father’s Compassion

Only Bridge of God to Men

Our Immaculate Queen

Our Lady, Gate of Heaven

Our Lady, Help of Christians

Our Lady, Mother of the Church

Our Lady, Queen of All Saints

Our Lady, Queen of the Apostles

Our Lady in America

Our Lady Mediatrix of All Grace

Our Lady of Africa

Our Lady of Altotting

Our Lady of Bandel

Our Lady of Bandra

Our Lady of Banneux

Our Lady of Baeuraing

Our Lady of Calvary

Our Lady of Charity

Our Lady of Consolation

Our Lady of Copacabana

Our Lady of Coromoto

Our Lady of Czestochowa

Our Lady of Europe

Our Lady of Fatima

Our Lady of Good Help

Our Lady of Grace

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe of Estramadura

Our Lady of High Grace

Our Lady of Hungary

Our Lady of Japan

Our Lady of Kevelaer

Our Lady of Knock

Our Lady of La Leche

Our Lady of La Vang

Our Lady of Las Vegas

Our Lady of LaSallette

Our Lady of Limerick

Our Lady of Loreto

Our Lady of Lourdes

Our Lady of Lujan

Our Lady of Madhu

Our Lady of Mariazell

Our Lady of Mercy

Our Lady of Montserrat

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Aylesford

Our Lady of Nazareth

Our Lady of Peace

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Our Lady of Pompei

Our Lady of Pontmain

Our Lady of Prompt Succor

Our Lady of Providence

Our Lady of Ransom

Our Lady of Safe Travel

Our Lady of Salambao

Our Lady of Shongweni

Our Lady of Sorrows

Our Lady of Tears

Our Lady of Victory

Our Lady of Walsingham

Our Lady of the Americas

Our Lady of the Assumption

Our Lady of the Cape

Our Lady of the Gulf

Our Lady of the Hermits

Our Lady of the Highways

Our Lady of the Holy Souls

Our Lady of the Incarnation

Our Lady of the Kodiak and the Islands

Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

Our Lady of the Pillar of Saragossa

Our Lady of the Pines

Our Lady of the Prairie

Our Lady of the Presentation

Our Lady of the Rosary

Our Lady of the Snows

Our Lady of the Turumba

Our Lady of the Valley

Our Lady of the Wayside

Our Lady of the Woods

Our Lady Who Appeared

Our Own Sweet Mother

Paradise Fenced Against the Serpent

Paradise of Innocence and Immortality

Paradise of the Second Adam

Paradise Planted by God

Patroness and Protectoress

Perfume of Faith

Preserved From All Sin

Protectress From All Hurt

Queen of All Saints

Queen of Angels

Queen of Creation

Queen of Heaven

Queen of Heaven and Earth

Queen of Martyrs

Queen of Peace

Queen Unconquered

Refuge in Time of Danger

Refuge of Sinners

Reparatrix

Reparatrix of Her Parents

Reparatrix of the Lord World

Rich in Mercy Rose Ever Blooming

Sacred Heart of Mary

Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit

Scepter of Orthodoxy

Seat of Wisdom

Second Eve

Singular Vessel of Devotion

Sister and Mother

Source of Virginity

Spiritual Vessel

Spotless Dove of Beauty

Star of the Sea

Star That Bore the Sea

Suppliant for Sinners

Surpassing Eden’s Gardens

Surpassing the Heavens

Surpassing the Seraphim

Sweet Flowering and Gracious Mercy

Tabernacle of God

Tabernacle of the Word

Temple Divine

Temple Indestructible

Temple of the Lord’s Body

Theotokos

Throne of the King

Tower of David

Tower of Ivory

Tower Unassailable

Treasure House of Life Treasure of Immortality

Treasure of the World Undefiled

Undefiled Treasure of Virginity

Undug Well of Remission’s Waters

Unlearned in the Ways of Eve

Unplowed Field of Heaven’s Bread

Unwatered Vineyard of Immortality’s Wine

Vessel of Honor

Victor Over the Serpent

Virgin Inviolate

Virgin Most Faithful

Virgin Most Merciful

Virgin Most Powerful

Virgin Most Prudent

Virgin Most Pure

Virgin Mother

Virgin of Charity

Virgin of Copacabana

Virgin of Virgins

Wedded to God

Woman Clothed With the Sun

Workshop of the Incarnation

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The Magnificat – Luke 1:46 – 55

46 And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord.

47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

48 Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

49 Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name.

50 And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.

51 He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.

52 He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.

53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

54 He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy:

55 As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.