Saturday, November 08, 2008

Organ Transplantation: Respect for Life

In Rome, the international congress "A Gift for Life. Considerations on Organ Donation," sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Life, the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, and the Italian National Transplant Centre is proving to be an occasion whereby Pope Benedict XVI is re-iterating Catholic teaching in a number of important areas.

At the reception for participants of the congress, the Pope emphasised that the donation of organs is a free act of charity, and should not be submitted to the "logic of the market".

The Pontiff said as the "body can never be considered as a mere object," so the "logic of the market" cannot be applied to organ donation.

He explained: "Any reasons for the buying and selling of organs, or the adoption of utilitarian and discriminatory criteria, would clash in such a way with the meaning of gift that they would be invalidated, qualifying them as illicit moral acts.

"Abuses in transplants and organ trafficking, which frequently affect innocent persons, such as children, must find the scientific and medical community united in a joint refusal. They should be decidedly condemned as abominable."

The Pope applied the same principle to the creation and destruction of human embryos: "The very idea of considering the embryo as 'therapeutic material' contradicts the cultural, civil and ethical foundations on which the dignity of the person rests."

He also reminded participants that before vital organs can be extracted from a body, it must be certified beyond a doubt that the donor is truly dead.

The Pope also underlined the importance of receiving the family's informed consent

"Informed consent," said the Pontiff, "is a precondition of freedom so that the transplant can be characterised as being a gift and not interpreted as a coercive or abusive act."

For a full report see Zenit here