Monday, November 10, 2008
Well, well. Very interesting.
I see that the Vatican has produced the official English translation of the Holy Father's address to the Organ Transplant conference. He, unlike the Pontifical Academy for Life who organised the conference, directly addressed the vexed question of "brain death" criteria and the danger it presents to vulnerable patients.
On Friday there was no translation available and so the news services of the world covering the event had to rely upon their own translations. But today, bright and early in the Roman autumnal sunshine, someone inside the walls has been a busy little beaver. It is only just after nine, and I see that not only is the English translation now available (after Reuters and others produced headlines saying that the Pope had "slammed" organ donation), there is a handy reference posted to the "Latest Updates" page on the Vatican website which links to the PDF of a document, produced in 2006, titled, "Why the Concept of Brain Death is Valid as a Definition of Death".
I noticed that there was no link to this document on Friday morning when I looked at the page just prior to my rushing off for the audience in question. But now, there it is, aaaaalmost as if someone in the Vatican was interested in making sure that there was a correct "spin" available for any other journalists who might be looking for the "official" Vatican position on "brain death" criteria.
Most journalists, interested in making a quick deadline and invariably being firmly on the side of the C. of D. are not going to ask whether this actually constitutes the "official" position on brain death, nor will they look to the bottom of the page and see that it is the "proceedings of the working group" and not a dogmatic statement from the Cathedra of the Lateran Basilica. Such subtleties are beyond them.
Just in case anyone was wondering,
there is no "official position" on brain death criteria. But the Catholic Church has, for some time, had an "official position" on taking vital organs out of people's bodies before they are dead.