“Brain Death” is Life, Not Death: Neurologists, Philosophers, Neonatologists, Jurists, and Bioethici

By Hilary White - Rome correspondent

ROME, February 26, 2009 ( - If a patient is able to process oxygen from the lungs into the bloodstream, maintain a normal body temperature, digest food and expel waste, grow to normal adult size from the age of four to twenty, and even carry a child to term, can he or she be considered dead? Can a person who is "dead" wake up and go on later to finish a university degree? Can a corpse get out of bed, go home and go fishing? Can he get married and have children?

These are among the real-life stories of patients declared "brain dead" presented by medical experts at the "Signs of Life" conference on "brain death" criteria held near the Vatican in Rome last week. Ten speakers, who are among the world’s most eminent in their fields, sounded a ringing rebuke to the continued support among medical professionals and ethicists for "brain death" as an accepted criterion for organ removal.

Dr. Paul Byrne, the conference organizer, told he was delighted with the success of the conference, that he hopes will bring the message that "brain death is not death" inside the walls of the Vatican where support for "brain death" criteria is still strong.

Dr. Byrne, a neonatologist and clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Toledo, compared the struggle against "brain death" criteria with another battle: "I’m sure that slavery was at one time well-accepted in the United States, and that people saw big benefits to slavery. And yes, it was difficult to go away from that but it was absolutely essential."

"Slavery was doing evil things to persons. This issue of ‘brain death’ was invented to get beating hearts for transplantation. And there is no way that this can go on. It must get stopped."

Participants came from all over the world to attend the Signs of Life conference, with speakers from Quebec, Alberta, Ontario, Germany, Poland, the US, Brazil and Italy. The conference hall was packed to standing-room only with physicians, clergy, students, journalists, and academics. Clergy included two senior officials of the Vatican curia: Francis Cardinal Arinze, the head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Sergio Cardinal Sebastiani, the President Emeritus of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See. Two senior members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith were also present. Conference organizers told that they had expected no more than a hundred to attend and were surprised but very pleased with the crowd of over 170 for the one-day event.

Conflicting voices on "brain death" criteria are still battling in the Church. In February 2005, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS) refused to publish the findings of its own conference after the speakers roundly denounced "brain death" as a cynical invention to further the monetary interests of organ transplanters. The speakers said that using "brain death" for the purpose of organ harvesting results in the death of helpless patients. The PAS convened a second conference in 2007 with different speakers who, with only two dissenting, supported "brain death" for organ transplants. Papers from the 2005 conference that opposed "brain death" were excluded without explanation to their authors.

During a Vatican-sponsored conference last November on organ transplantation, at which not a single speaker raised their voice against "brain death," Pope Benedict XVI warned in an address that "the removal of organs is allowed only in the presence of his actual death." But on the Monday following the Friday organ transplant conference, only the PAS conference report in favor of "brain death" was posted to the Vatican website and not the Pope’s warning. 

Dr. Byrne said that a major function of the Signs of Life conference was "to support Pope Benedict," whose address in November, he said, had started to turn the Church against "brain death."

"It’s here to demonstrate clearly that ‘brain death’ never was true death. What we’re trying to do is come back to the truth and protect and preserve the life that comes from God.

"When there are attacks on life, then we, as physicians, defend it and that is what this conference is for."

The Signs of Life conference, sponsored privately by various pro-life organizations, including Human Life International, the Northwest Ohio Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, American Life League and the Italian organization Associazione Famiglia Domani, stood in opposition to the second PAS conference, which was titled, "The Signs of Death."

Read related coverage:

Doctor to Tell Brain Death Conference Removing Organs from "Brain Dead" Patients Tantamount to Murder

Pro-Life Conference on "Brain Death" Criteria Will Have Uphill Climb to Sway Entrenched Vatican Position

Conference may Begin to Sway Vatican Opinion Against Brain Death: Eminent Philosopher

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EWTN’s ‘honest analysis’ of Synod: Media confined to covering press conferences, Vatican spokesmen like Fr. Rosica

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By Steve Jalsevac


ROME, October 12, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The October 8 EWTN World Over program led by Raymond Arroyo, who was joined by canon lawyer and New York pastor Fr. Gerald Murray, as well as Robert Royal, editor of the, presented a surprisingly “honest analysis” of the tumultuous first week of the Synod on the Family.

Arroyo and his two guests expressed many concerns about the Synod process and what took place during the first week. They notably commented at length on the statements about homosexuals by Fr. Thomas Rosica that they said “seemed to come out of nowhere” and which were not mentioned by the other language Vatican press office reporters as having been discussed by the bishops.

The program began with a video clip of Cardinal Pell’s statements before the start of the Synod, during which he expressed concerns about the Synod process that he and other Synod fathers held.

"What is important to us is that both sides are represented equally on committees, and what is published in reports,” he said. “It's a disservice to the church and a disservice to the work of the Synod if in any sense the reporting is skewed.”

Arroyo emphasized that the Synod “is merely an advisory meeting of the bishops. It is in no way binding on the pope” and therefore it is uncertain what impact all the discussions will have on the final outcome, to be determined solely by Francis.

Also shown was a clip of Archbishop Chaput stating his concern last Wednesday about “the English translation” of Synod documents, “which in some ways doesn't match the Italian which is the official version.” This addressed a deep concern among the bishops about whether they were being provided with accurate translations of what was being said during the speeches at the Synod.

Arroyo noted that “the language is a big issue” and asked his guests, “How reliable are the translations?”

Robert Royal said that from his observations and discussions in Vatican City, “this nervousness about the language reflects the general nervousness here in Rome and not only the traditional Catholics in the room, but also by the progressives. Everyone seems to be very much on edge. There is a high degree of anxiety it seems to me about what exactly are the processes, the procedures that are being followed in the Synod and also the content, of course.”

Father Murray’s response was that, “There's always the danger, that the Church in addressing a topic will engage in sociology, rather than theology. In other words describe how people are living and then try and say this is how it fits with the Christian life. Really a Synod has to be the extension of a theological reflection that the Church takes to the Gospel and her defined doctrines. That means, the life situation of the people is judged by the gospel and not the other way around. And that's where the concern is of archbishops and others about the working document.”

He continued, “The word of God must train us and guide us and prepare us to change how we live” as opposed to the expressions of the more “progressive” bishops suggesting that instead it is the Church that should change.

Arroyo observed that “the pope took to the floor” early on, “to calm the fathers” about marriage and vouched for the method and process of the Synod that many are concerned about – a move that Royal said was “extraordinary.”

The EWTN program then plunged into the comments on homosexuality that were introduced and emphasized by Vatican English correspondent, Fr. Thomas Rosica.

It was not mentioned that Fr. Rosica is well-known to favor a liberalization of Church teaching and practice related to homosexuality, especially given his effusive praise for heretical Canadian former priest and Vatican II advisor, Gregory Baum. Baum has been perhaps the leading Catholic in Canada to advocate for acceptance, among many other things, not only of homosexuality itself, but also for acceptance of active homosexual clergy.

Appearing to exercise prudent restraint, Father Murray responded, “there is a concern that all the discussion about homosexuality as it relates to marriage and the family is not being adequately treated in the way it's being reported.” That seemed to be directed to the shocking statements by Fr. Rosica about what the Synod Fathers are alleged to have discussed.

“How will we know if that's the case,” mused Fr. Murray. “Fortunately,” he continued, “the Synod fathers were told that they will have free access to the press, but I would be much happier if we return to earlier Synodal practice where everything was made public so the faithful can follow the discussion.”

Robert Royal expressed concern that “there are 10 people who are going to write the final report,” and among these 10 are Cardinal Baldisseri, who was the chief organizer of last year’s scandalous synod and Archbishop Forte, “who is the author of the notorious midterm report last year.”

Fr. Murray noted that “the way the Synod is set it favors the discussion about a topic that is really closed – communion for the divorced and remarried is not an open question.” He expressed concern that "process is overcoming product," and the fact that the discussion is happening at all “is leading some people to say, ‘I guess the Church doesn't really mean what it used to say.’”

“How to pastorally engage homosexuals and modifying the language used when describing them” was brought up by only couple of bishops in the Synod, said Royal.

Arroyo then showed a video of Fr. Thomas Rosica, the official English translator for the Vatican press office, making his authoritative-sounding comments that gave an impression that the issue of homosexuality was one that was widely being discussed among the bishops. The EWTN team seemed alarmed over this evidence that a mere Vatican translator and reporter was permitted to strongly advocate to the world, as though he were a Synod father, for changes that violated Church moral teachings.

Arroyo then asked a very pointed question to his guests, “Gentleman how big concern is this for the bishops gathered in Rome or is it, as some reporters have suggested, possibly a Vatican reporter (Fr. Rosica) exaggerating the concerns for whatever reason.”

Robert Royal responded that Fr. Rosica’s dissertation “took people by surprise because it seemed to come out of nowhere. None of the other language reporters mentioned the sensitivity language for homosexuals. The difficulty is, we are all trying to read, as father Murray was saying, since we have no access to what really happens inside the Synod, we have to rely on what we hear from the official spokesman, also from bits and pieces here and there. That seemed to be very odd. Some other reporters have asked Fr. Lombardi, “who is the main spokesman for the Holy See press office? Don't you have some statistics how often the subjects have been brought up. He claims not to have them.”

“What we learned after, just by a stray remark that Archbishop Chaput made… is that language about ‘gays’ had only come up about once or twice at that point. This seems to be something that certain elements within the Vatican are pressing forward immediately and we know that, from our experience in the United States, where there is a great deal of sensitivity and there is this heightened sense of being offended by language, no amount of softened language is ever going to satisfy people whose basic objection is that the Catholic Church regards homosexuality to be, per se, as intrinsically disordered as the Catechism says…Even that phrase is going to be coming up for reconfiguration. I don't see that is going to have very much success or it's going to satisfy anyone who is not already a serious Catholic.”

Arroyo mentioned his general dissatisfaction about the synod arrangements stating, “only this morning I tweeted out that journalists are not really covering the Synod. They're covering a press conference about the Synod. This control of information flow, frankly, I don't find it helpful, we don't know who is saying what, and there are many expressions that are being suppressed and ignored.”

Father Gerry was asked for his impression.

The canon lawyer responded, “You're right.  Obviously, this process did not occur at past Synods, and now it's going to be up to the Cardinals to go to press conferences outside of the Vatican and say what really happened. That's not really helpful. In fact this is supposed to be all about the culture of encounter and the faithful should have an opportunity to hear what their pastors say and discuss it among themselves, rather than just reporters talking about what reporters are saying.”

Fr. Gerry continued that Canadian “Archbishop Durocher floated the idea of women deacons and said perhaps it is time to permit laymen and women to preach homilies. Doesn’t it risk using up Synod time to allow a hodgepodge of bishops’ pet projects?”

Robert Royal suggested all these concerns of the West are not the concerns of the rest of the world.

Arroyo related he had a sense that “The Synod seems to be a large act of grand international theater without any real finale. The finale will come afterwards when the pope writes whatever document he writes and changes pastoral changes to accommodate the challenges that he sees facing the family today.”

Fr. Murray warned, “Cardinal Kasper’s suggestions are offensive and dangerous. Catholic doctrine must be defended vigorously, otherwise many souls will be imperiled by false teaching.”

Robert Royal concluded, saying, “the main thing that we should be doing is affirming the family because that is what makes life as good as it can be. It helps form people. It transmits the faith from one generation to the next. That should be the focus. For the time being it looks like the family is being edged out by some of these peripheral issues.”

See also Robert Royal’s October 12 article, The Devil in the Details, about the confusion and uncertainties of Vatican Press Secretary, Fr. Lombardi, regarding the Synod.

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Methodist, Episcopalian clergy ‘bless’ Cleveland abortion clinic in prayer service

Fr. Mark Hodges
By Fr. Mark Hodges

CLEVELAND, OH, October 12, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- More than a dozen religious leaders from a variety of denominations gathered last week to support abortion and "bless" a Cleveland abortion facility.

The "blessing" of the Preterm facility was initiated and coordinated by Rev. Laura Young, a Methodist priestess and the executive director of The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice’s (RCRC) Ohio chapter.  

"Bless this building,” prayed Rev. Tracey Lind, Dean of Cleveland's Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, at the abortion facility. “May its walls stand strong against the onslaught of shame thrown at it. May it be a beacon of hope for those who need its services."

RCRC is based in Washington, D.C. Its national president, Rev. Harry Knox, participated in the Cleveland demonstration as well, and told the Columbus Dispatch, “I’m here today standing alongside my fellow clergymen and clergywomen to say, thank God for abortion providers.”  

Knox is a "married" homosexual who has also spearheaded same-sex “marriage” efforts in Georgia and Florida.

The group held signs that said to be pro-abortion is to be "pro-family" and "pro-faith."  Other signs read, "Good women have abortions."


From Today's prayer service at Preterm Cleveland Ohio. Religious people gathered to bless that space of sacred decision making. #GodBlessTheClinics

Posted by Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice on Thursday, October 8, 2015

One demonstration participant, Molly Marvar, had positive things to say about her abortion at the Cleveland Preterm clinic, calling her abortion a great, caring experience, and a privilege. “It was a defining moment for me," she said.  "It’s really important to me that I speak up about my abortion to help other women.”

“There is a reverence for life that happens in this clinic,” Marvar told Think Progress.  “And the decision to get an abortion is often a really, really, spiritual decision.”

In an interview with Think Progress, Young explained that she believes God supports abortion.

"Women who have had abortions are being attacked at a religious level, and the faith community has a moral obligation to heal these spiritual wounds,” she said.

Young, a self-described "progressive theological thinker and a feminist," said if her demonstration and "blessing" is successful, her group will bless other state clinics as well.  She recently testified against a pro-life bill in the Ohio senate, along with Unitarian, Universalist, United Church of Christ and Episcopalian clergy.

Young also recently led the invocation for the Ohio House of Representatives. She was assigned to lead Ohio's RCRC by her Methodist bishop, Gregory Palmer.  

Young says pro-lifers are exercising a “misguided faith” when they peacefully tell women entering Preterm that there is a better way, according to the National Right to Life. Rather, Young insists that pro-lifers are "hurling hate and judgment" on women who have abortions. Young rhetorically asks, "Is that loving?"

However, the Very Reverend Jason Kappanadze, priest of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Elmira Heights, New York, differs with Young. “The Church never judges people, but judges actions,” he explained. “We do, however, tell the truth, to help people discern the godly, loving path.”

“How far we have strayed from true understanding, when we characterize an attempt to save lives as hateful, and characterize the taking of life as loving?” he asked.

“To tamper with the creation of human beings by God - intentionally and by His loving will - is an example of human arrogance and hubris, and is indicative of a loss of fundamental reasoning and the understanding of life.”

Kappanadze says he sees the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice as emblematic of a deeper problem. “The growth of the acceptance of abortion is parallel to the loss of direction of many Christians, who can no longer call people to repentance because of their division,” he said. The division of Christians, he said, “prevents them from speaking with one voice, as it was in the beginning of the Church.”

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Video shows unborn baby at 18 weeks ‘singing’ to music in groundbreaking study

Kristi Burton Brown
By Kristi Burton Brown

October 12, 2015 (LiveActionNews) -- Innovative scientists at the Institut Marques in Barcelona, Spain, have made an amazing discovery. Preborn babies can hear and respond to music much sooner than previously believed.

“For the first time ever,” it can be scientifically proven that a preborn baby detects and responds to sound at 16 weeks gestation.

The Institut Marques reports (emphasis mine):

“Ultrasound”, the journal of the British Medical Ultrasound Society (BMUS), has published our study entitled “Fetal Facial Expression in Response to Intravaginally Transmitted Music”, an innovative research project on fetal hearing.

This report explains that, beginning in week 16 of pregnancy, a response exists to music delivered intravaginally, expressed through specific movements of the mouth and tongue.

Our initial hypothesis suggests that music creates a response which manifests as vocalisation movements, as it activates the brain circuits that stimulate language and communication. In other words, learning begins in utero.

The Daily Mail reports: “ntil now experts did not believe a foetus could hear until week 18, at the earliest but more commonly nearer 26 weeks.”

This scientific discovery is just one more in a long line, proving the absolute humanity, beauty, and value of preborn babies. As science develops, we gain windows to the womb that show us the valuable person we lose every time an abortion is committed.

Abortion does not take a potential life: it take the real, actual, life of a human being. And in many cases, this little human can already sing.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

This video shows an amazingly formed preborn baby at 18 weeks – just two weeks after the ability to respond to music can be scientifically proven.

For more information on preborn babies at every age, check out the stunning photos, videos, and detailed information provided by The Endowment for Human Development, a scientific nonprofit dedicated “to help everyone appreciate, apply, and communicate the science of health and human development.

Reprinted with permission from Live Action News

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