ivan lobay 3742 web Ivan Lobay, 103, and his daughter Maria, 70, relax at home in Orange. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)

ORANGE – As a teenager in Ukraine, Ivan Lobay saw the words “keep smiling” in an English magazine. It became his motto for the rest of his life.

20150218cm01806 webPope Francis gives ashes during Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome Feb. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

ROME (CNS) -- Lent is a journey of purification and penance, a movement that should bring one tearfully back to the loving arms of the merciful Father, Pope Francis said at an Ash Wednesday Mass that began with a procession on Rome's Aventine Hill.

ShipDay3 webSt. James School student Nicholas Guenther, who acted as a minister during the school’s fifth-grade ship day, receives his sailing papers (classwork) from captain Peyton Carpenter.

MANCHESTER – To immerse students in an important aspect of early American history, St. James School fifth-grade teachers Denise Wojtyna and Diane DiBenedetto transformed a classroom into an emigrant ship for a day.

20150217cm01766 webCoptic Christian women attend a Feb. 17 service in Cairo for the Egyptians said to have been beheaded in Libya. (CNS photo/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis called for prayers for the Egyptian Christians beheaded by Islamic State militants in Libya and asked that God recognize these men killed for their faith.

ccc dont jump from pdf web

HARTFORD – As Connecticut lawmakers began to consider proposed legislation that would make doctor-assisted suicide legal in the state, the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference launched a media campaign to help “people get all the facts before making a rash decision on physician-assisted suicide.”

20150213cnsto0043 web This architectural rendering shows how the Museum of the Bible planned for Washington will look. (CNS photo/courtesy Smith Group JJR)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- On a gray and overcast morning in Washington, just a short walk from Capitol Hill, construction work began on a museum intended to promote engagement, education and discussion of the Bible.

20150203cnsto0001 webPeople carry a banner of Archbishop Oscar Romero in San Salvador, El Salvador, March 22, 2014. (CNS photo/Roberto Escobar, EPA)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – After decades of debate within the church, Pope Francis formally recognized that Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero was killed "in hatred of the faith" and not for purely political reasons.

stmary csw web

Anya Joseph, a second grader at St. Mary School in Milford, models the clothing and accessories she sported for the school’s Mismatch Day, one of a number of activities at the school in celebration of Catholic Schools Week Jan. 25-31.

20150127cnsbr8170 webDan Nelson shows how Shockbox helmet sensors are attached to the inside of the crown of a football helmet with a piece of Velcro Dec. 8. (CNS photo/Joanne Fox, Catholic Globe)

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) – Micah Herbst of Sioux City does not have a son on the football team at Bishop Heelan Catholic High School.

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Dr. Haas responds:

Dr. Paul Byrne, a valiant pro-life physician, opposes current Catholic teaching on the moral legitimacy of determining death using cardiopulmonary or neurological criteria. He objects specifically to the use of neurological criteria for determining death prior to the extraction of vital organs for transplantation. Dr. Byrne insists that a body with a brain that is dead but with a heart which is kept beating artificially is a live person. However, this is the very question being debated. Are we dealing with a corpse or a living person?

Traditionally, persons were declared dead by a physician when they stopped breathing and their heart stopped beating. When blood and oxygen no longer reached the brain, then that organ would die along with the other organs in the body, and the death of the person was certain. But now bodies can be placed on mechanical support so that oxygenated blood is artificially forced through the bodies keeping certain organs alive even though the brain is dead.

The laws in every one of our 50 states accept that death can be determined using either cardio-pulmonary or neurological signs. The American Academy of Neurology has accepted the legitimacy of neurological criteria for determining death and issued updated tests in 2010. The neurological signs can be more difficult to determine than the ceasing of breathing and a heartbeat, but they are a more certain sign that death has occurred. If tests determine that there is no blood flow and no electrical activity in the brain, and if certain tests on the body also indicate no brain activity, then the person can be declared dead.

Dr. Byrne rejects the legitimacy of these tests and maintains that if the brain is dead and the heart is kept beating with mechanical support, the person is alive. So Dr. Byrne then applies every papal statement against killing the innocent to the removal of organs from people who have been declared dead using these neurological signs. Yet this is an unwarranted application of papal teaching since Blessed John Paul II himself accepted the legitimacy of neurological criteria for determining death. Therefore, when the Pope denounced the killing of the innocent, he was not talking about organ transplantation from those who had been declared dead using neurological criteria because he did not consider the donors to be alive! In his encyclical The Gospel of Life, John Paul II even encouraged organ donation.

There is one steadfast rule which holds in both Catholic and secular medical fields, and it is the "dead donor rule" – organs cannot be taken from a donor until there is moral certitude that the donor is dead. This moral certitude can be established using either cardio-pulmonary or neurological criteria, according to the Church and contemporary medicine.

Dr. Byrne points out that a number of criteria for brain death have been developed since the so-called Harvard criteria of 1968. This, however, is a good thing since the criteria have been ever more rigorously formulated to determine that the donor is indeed dead.

Where can a Catholic turn to find guidance as to whether it is morally legitimate to donate an organ after "brain death" or to receive an organ from someone declared dead using neurological criteria? Catholics of course receive moral guidance from the Magisterium. And there has never been a single statement from any pope or any Vatican dicastery which has rejected the moral legitimacy of using the neurological criterion.

In fact, an essay by Dr. Byrne against neurological criteria was submitted a number of years ago to Pope John Paul II by Dr. Theodore Steinman, a transplant physician at Harvard. Dr. Steinman received the following response from Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, who at the time was the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life: "The Secretary of State of His Holiness . . . has asked me to respond to your letter of April 7, 2001. In it you express your perplexity and conscientious concern after reading the article that appeared in the periodical Catholic World Report (March 2001) entitled ‘Are Organ Transplants Ever Morally Licit’? I can confirm that this article does not reflect the official doctrine of the Church. The Church’s thinking continues to be what was expressed in the Holy Father’s discourse of August 29, 2000. . . . I would like to take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of the Holy Father both for the confidence and appreciation you expressed for his Magisterium, and for your commitment in the service of patients. In the Holy Father’s name, I am pleased to extend to you his apostolic blessing as a sign of the Lord’s accompaniment in the comforting task you carry out for patients and their families in the delicate area of surgery."

This is hardly a statement from the Vatican equating organ donation with "euthanasia" or the illicit taking of innocent life as Dr. Byrne argues. What Blessed John Paul II said in the Address referenced by Cardinal Sgreccia is the following: "It is a well-known fact that for some time certain scientific approaches to ascertaining death have shifted from cardio-respiratory signs to the so-called ‘neurological criterion’. . . Here it can be said that [this] criterion . . . does not seem to conflict with the essential elements of a sound anthropology. Therefore, a health care worker professionally responsible for ascertaining death can use these criteria in each individual case as the basis for arriving at that degree of assurance in ethical judgment which moral teaching describes as ‘moral certainty.’"

This has not been the teaching only of Pope John Paul II. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 1985, 1989 and again in 2008 accepted the legitimacy of the neurological criterion for determining death. So did the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care to Health Workers 1995 in its 1995 Charter for Health Care Workers. The Charter was reviewed prior to publication by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of which Cardinal Ratzinger was the head. The Charter states: "In order that a person be considered a corpse, it is enough that cerebral death of the donor be ascertained." This is also the position of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the Catholic Bioethics Center at the Sacred Heart University in Rome, and the International Federation of Bioethics Institutes of Personalist Inspiration (FIBIP) founded by Cardinal Elio Sgreccia.

This teaching of the Church is of course not an irreformable, dogmatic teaching that a Catholic must accept in order to be saved! However, if faithful Catholics want to look to the Church for moral guidance, they should know that the Church allows organ donation after a person has been declared dead using neurological criteria.

Dr. Paul Byrne is a tireless pro-life warrior who has no obligation to accept current Church teaching with respect to the transplantation of vital organs. But faithful Catholics ought to know that his views do not reflect the current moral teachings of the Church on the subject.

John M. Haas, Ph.D., S.T.L., is president of The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia.

Events Calendar

March 2015
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1
03:00 PM
Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Hartford, Hartford, United States
HARTFORD – La Salette Father Gene Barrette will present the second part of his three-part series of talks titled “Three Faces of God” at 3 p.m. March 1 at Our Lady of Sorrows Church. [...]
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Hartford, CT, Hartford, United States
La Salette Father Gene Barrette will present “Celluloid Collars,” a series of four films dealing with priests, at 7 p.m. on four Sundays in March at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 79 New Park Ave., [...]
08:00 AM
Academy of the Holy Family dining hall, Baltic, Sprague, United States
he Baltic Knights of Columbus will have a pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to noon March 1 in the dining hall of the Academy of the Holy Family at 54 West Main St. Pancakes, French toast, sausage, eggs and [...]
Date :  March 01, 2015
2
06:00 PM
Any Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Hartford
The sacrament of reconciliation, or confession, is being offered from 6-7 p.m. every Monday during Lent at [...]
Date :  March 02, 2015
3
4
05:15 PM
Albertus Magnus College, New Haven, New Haven, United States
Dr. Denys Turner will speak on “A Teacher and Two Students:  Albert, Thomas Aquinas and Meister Eckhart” on from 5:15-6:30 p.m. Jan. 26 in the Hubert Campus Center on the New Haven [...]
07:00 PM
Location to be announced, Connecticut
EnCourage, a support group for those who have a loved-one who experiences same-sex attraction, will meet at 7 p.m. March 4 at a location to be announced. As a part of the Courage Apostolate, [...]
07:00 PM
St. James Church, Rocky Hill, Rocky Hill, United States
ROCKY HILL – Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist Suzanne Gross will give a talk titled “End of Life [...]
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, East Haven CT, East Haven, United States
The 20th annual solemn novena in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help will take place at 7 p.m. on nine consecutive Wednesdays, beginning March 4, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 355 Foxon [...]
Date :  March 04, 2015
5
04:00 PM
University of St. Joseph, West Hartford, CT, West Hartford, United States
The University of St. Joseph will present the 2015 Munger Lecture, featuring Karen Eifler, co-director of the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture at the University [...]
09:00 AM
Sacred Heart Academy, Hamden CT, Hamden, United States
Sacred Heart Academy will offer an entrance exam for applicants to grades nine and 10 from 9 a.m. to noon March 5 at the academy, 265 Benham St., Hamden. Students who plan to take the test must [...]
Date :  March 05, 2015
6
7
07:00 PM
St. Rita Parish, Hamden, Hamden, United States
St. Rita Parish in Hamden will have its 24th annual Sweetheart Mass and Social by candlelight at 7 p.m. [...]
09:00 AM
St. James Church, Rocky Hill, Rocky Hill, United States
"Stolen Lives: A Gospel Response to Human Trafficking" is the title of a presentation to be given from 9 [...]
10:00 AM
Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary, Bloomfield, Bloomfield, United States
BLOOMFIELD – The Archbishop O’Brien Library and archdiocesan Office of Black Catholic Ministries have teamed up to sponsor a two-part presentation titled “The Emergence of Black Catholic Women and [...]
Date :  March 07, 2015
8
03:00 PM
Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Hartford, Hartford, United States
HARTFORD – La Salette Father Gene Barrette will present the last of his three-part series of talks titled “Three Faces of God” at 3 p.m. March 8 at Our Lady of Sorrows Church. “Holy Spirit [...]
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Hartford, Conn., Hartford, United States
La Salette Father Gene Barrette’s presentation of “Celluloid Collars,” a series of four films dealing with priests, continues with “Into Temptation” at 7 p.m. March 8 at Our Lady of [...]
12:30 PM
St. Thomas Seminary, Bloomfield, Bloomfield, United States
The Archdiocese of Hartford’s Catholic Biblical School will have a Celebration of Sacred Scripture from [...]
Date :  March 08, 2015
9
10
11
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, East Haven CT, East Haven, United States
The 20th annual solemn novena in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help will take place at 7 p.m. on nine consecutive Wednesdays, beginning March 4, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 355 Foxon [...]
Date :  March 11, 2015
12
13
12:00 AM
Mercy Center, Madison, Madison, United States
Credo Catholic Singles will have a retreat with the theme “You Are I Am = We Are One” March 13-15 at Mercy Center at Madison. It is designed to give singles an [...]
Date :  March 13, 2015
14
12:00 AM
Mercy Center, Madison, Madison, United States
Credo Catholic Singles will have a retreat with the theme “You Are I Am = We Are One” March 13-15 at Mercy Center at Madison. It is designed to give singles an [...]
Date :  March 14, 2015
15
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Hartford CT, Hartford, United States
La Salette Father Gene Barrette’s presentation of “Celluloid Collars,” a series of four films dealing with priests, continues with “Doubt” at 7 p.m. March 15 at Our Lady of [...]
12:00 AM
Mercy Center, Madison, Madison, United States
Credo Catholic Singles will have a retreat with the theme “You Are I Am = We Are One” March 13-15 at Mercy Center at Madison. It is designed to give singles an [...]
Date :  March 15, 2015
16
07:30 PM
Franciscan Life Center, Meriden, Meriden, United States
Dr. Thomas Finn, a clinical psychologist on staff at the Franciscan Life Center, will present a two-session educational opportunity for parents with children 13 and under in March. The class, [...]
Date :  March 16, 2015
17
05:30 PM
Infinity Music Hall and Bistro, Hartford, Conn., Hartford, United States
The inaugural “St. Pat’s with a Purpose” celebration to benefit Malta House of Care mobile medical clinic will take place from 5:30-8:30 p.m. March 17 at Infinity Music Hall and Bistro, 32 [...]
Date :  March 17, 2015
18
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, East Haven CT, East Haven, United States
The 20th annual solemn novena in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help will take place at 7 p.m. on nine consecutive Wednesdays, beginning March 4, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 355 Foxon [...]
Date :  March 18, 2015
19
20
21
10:00 AM
Sacred Heart Academy, Hamden CT
The Sacred Heart Academy Alumnae Association will sponsor its annual children’s Easter Party from 10 a.m. to noon March 31 on the academy campus at 265 Benham St., Hamden. The event, which [...]
Date :  March 21, 2015
22
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Hartford, Hartford, United States
La Salette Father Gene Barrette’s presentation of “Celluloid Collars,” a series of four films dealing with priests, concludes with a screening of "Calvary" at 7 p.m. March 22 at Our [...]
07:00 PM
St. Ann Church, Milford, Milford, United States
 Jesuit Father Charles Allen will lead a Lenten retreat at St. Ann Church in Milford at 7 p.m. March 22-24. His theme is “Praying Like King David – Behaving Like (and Unlike) King [...]
Date :  March 22, 2015
23
07:00 PM
St. Ann Church, Milford, Milford, United States
 Jesuit Father Charles Allen will lead a Lenten retreat at St. Ann Church in Milford at 7 p.m. March 22-24. His theme is “Praying Like King David – Behaving Like (and Unlike) King [...]
07:30 PM
Franciscan Life Center, Meriden, Meriden, United States
Dr. Thomas Finn, a clinical psychologist on staff at the Franciscan Life Center, will present a two-session educational opportunity for parents with children 13 and under in March. The class, [...]
Date :  March 23, 2015
24
07:00 PM
St. Ann Church, Milford, Milford, United States
 Jesuit Father Charles Allen will lead a Lenten retreat at St. Ann Church in Milford at 7 p.m. March 22-24. His theme is “Praying Like King David – Behaving Like (and Unlike) King [...]
Date :  March 24, 2015
25
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, East Haven CT, East Haven, United States
The 20th annual solemn novena in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help will take place at 7 p.m. on nine consecutive Wednesdays, beginning March 4, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 355 Foxon [...]
Date :  March 25, 2015
26
05:30 PM
Grand Oak Villa, Oakville, CT, Watertown, United States
The St. Vincent DePaul Mission of Waterbury will commemorate its 37-year record of continual service to the poor of Greater Waterbury with a banquet beginning at 5:30 p.m. March 26 at the Grand Oak [...]
Date :  March 26, 2015
27
28
05:00 PM
Sacred Heart Academy, Hamden, CT, Hamden, United States
Sacred Heart Academy is sponsoring a $10,000 cash raffle as part of its annual signature fund-raising event, a live and silent auction, taking place at 5 p.m. March 28. Tickets for the cash [...]
Date :  March 28, 2015
29
07:00 PM
St. Ann Church, Bristol CT, Bristol, United States
A tenebrae service, or service of lights, will take place at 7 p.m. on Palm Sunday, March 29, at St. Ann Church, 215 West St., Bristol. This service will include hymns, music by a contemporary [...]
Date :  March 29, 2015
30
31
09:00 AM
St. Mary School, Milford, Milford, United States
St. Mary School in Milford will have an open house from 9-11 a.m. March 31. Teachers, staff and parents of current and former students will be on hand and students will provide tours. [...]
Date :  March 31, 2015

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