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JANUARY 6 2012 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
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Archbishop says organ donation must not be a duty
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE ARCHBISHOP of Cardiff has criticised the Welsh government’s plans to introduce “presumed consent” on organ donation.
Archbishop George Stack said that “the dignity of the human person demands that our autonomy be respected in this profoundly important area”, and that the human body is “not an asset of the state”.
He said: “I agree with my fellow church leaders that our organs should be donated a as gift to others and not as a duty.”
The Welsh government is currently hosting a consultation on their plans to implement a policy through which individuals’ organs would automatically qualify for donation after death unless they opted out of the scheme.
The Department for Health has clarified its “firm intention” to implement “presumed consent” by 2015.
But Church leaders and ethicists have expressed their concerns about the government proposals.
Dr David Albert Jones of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre said: “Pope John Paul II clearly stated that without consent ‘organ transplantation and the grafting of tissue would no longer correspond to an act of donation but would amount to the dispossession or plundering of a body’. This understanding is also expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which lays down that organ donation ‘is not morally acceptable if the donor or his proxy has not given explicit consent.
“Thus laws that allow doctors to remove organs from the dead without consent and even against the objections of the relatives contradict clear Catholic teaching. They contradict the very concept of donation which is a free gift.”
The Anglican Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan has also criticised proposed moves for presumed consent. He said: “Organ donation surely ought to be a matter of gift and not of duty.
“Giving organs is the most generous act of self giving imaginable but it has to be a choice that is freely embraced, not something that the state assumes.
“Put more crudely, it can turn volunteers into conscripts.
“I think that compromises individual rights and freedoms and poses the moral question as to whether the state can make such decisions.”
Professor John Saunders, the chairman of the Royal College of Physicians’ ethics committee, wrote in am article for the British Medical Association (BMA) online that “presumed consent can no more exist than a squared circle” and pointed out that organ donation rates were rising in Wales without a change in organ donation law.
The NHS Blood and Transplant service argues that, while more than 90 per cent of people support organ donation, only 30 per cent have signed up to donate their organs and the BMA, which represents doctors and nurses, strongly supports a change in the law.
A spokesman for the Welsh government also defended the new proposals, saying: “Our proposals are aimed at improving organ donation rates in Wales by making it easier for the vast majority of people who say they believe in organ donation to become donors after their death. Our proposals also offer people the choice to state if they do not want to donate their organs, which is not something any of us can do now.
“The retrieval of organs after death, as the NICE guidelines for the NHS make clear, is a strictly controlled clinical process in which the state has no part to play. This is the case under the current system and will continue to be the case under our proposals.
“Under our proposed soft opt-out organ donation system, people will be able to opt out of donating their organs if they wish. If a person has not opted out, families will still be consulted when a death has occurred, as happens now.
“However, previous consultations show that the Welsh public supports these proposals.”
A Catholic five-year-old boy who died suddenly last year saved the lives of four people when his parents decided to donate his organs during his final hours of life.
Luca Giovannini, from St Hugh’s primary in Timperley, Stockport, died just 24 hours after being taken ill and when his parents learned that his chances of survival were small they decided to donate his organs so “something positive” could come out of his death.
Luca’s organs were donated last year to a two-year-old girl, a twoyear-old boy, a 35-year-old mother and a 34-year-old man.
Lord Falconer is chairman of a commission on assisted suicide due to publish a report this week PA
Falconer pushes for change to the law on assisted suicide BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
A COMMISSION established by the former Lord Chancellor to investigate Britain’s assisted suicide law is expected to recommend the legalisation of assisted suicide for the terminally ill. Writing in the Daily Telegraph Lord Falconer of Thoroton, chairman of the Commission on Assisted Dying, said: “The evidence identified problems with the current framework and concerns about the consequences of change. We have tried to provide a possible way forward, which addresses the need for safeguards. It is a difficult subject. But for many people it has a profound effect on whether or not their last days on earth are bearable.”
The Commission on Assisted Dying, sponsored by the think tank Demos, was due to report as The Catholic Herald went to press.
The commission has been criticised since its inception in November 2010 because of its membership and its donors.
Critics point out that Lord Falconer previously tried to relax the law on assisted suicide in the House of Lords and that pro-euthanasia campaigner and fantasy author Terry Pratchett is partly funding the commission.
A spokesman for the Care Not Killing Alliance said: “This is a deeply worrying and flawed report that is being presented as a serious investigation into this complicated and divisive issue. It is not. The law exists to protect the vulnerable, elderly and disabled from feeling under pressure to end their lives because they are a burden.”
Nadine Dorries Conservative MP for Bedfordshire told the Daily Mail: “This commission, paid for by a known reformer and packed with strident voices to change the law, is unfortunately already discredited due to its lack of impartiality.”
Lord Falconer’s commission has visited jurisdictions, such as Oregon and Switzerland, where assisted suicide is permissible to assess how the law is operating.
Although the commission has heard from relevant witnesses such as palliative care specialists and disabled people, some have refused to give evidence due to concerns that the commission’s independence is spurious.
The British Medical Association representing 140,000 doctors passed a motion at its annual meeting last year which questioned the Commission on Assisted Dying’s partiality and opposed any submission of evidence to the commission due to worries about its lack of independence.
Among the committee’s members are Baroness Murphy, a former psychiatrist and proponent of previous assisted dying bills, and Penny Mordaunt MP, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Choice at the End of Life.
The commission also includes former police commissioner Lord Ian Blair, who has said that the law on assisted suicide is “incoherent and unsafe”. While suicide was decriminalised in 1961, assistance with suicide has remained a criminal offence with a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
There have been high-profile cases of relatives and spouses accompanying individuals to Dignitas, the suicide centre in Zurich, but none have been prosecuted.
The law on assisted suicide was clarified in March 2010 following a law lords ruling in favour of multiple sclerosis sufferer Debbie Purdy.
Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, issued guidelines which stated that assistance with suicide in which the assister was “wholly motivated by compassion” would lessen the chance of prosecution. The guidelines also stipulated that if the assister was a doctor prosecution was more likely.
Although Miss Purdy and campaigners for a change in the law hailed the guidelines as a victory, the commission’s recommendations are expected to say that the current law on assisted suicide is still inadequate.
Earlier this week Lord Falconer said: “Between 2008 and 2010, 76 Britons ended their lives at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland... Commissioners visited the clinic and spoke to the people who ran it. They did not like much of what they saw.”
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Bishop praised for ‘bold and courageous’ letter Archbishop calls for ‘more mature’ national debate
Continued from Page 1: But the spokesman added: “Is it right that our old folk are supporting the kids they won’t ever see at church?
“The real issue is not the Muslims, but our own people who won’t darken our doors. And unlike in London, we don’t have significant numbers of immigrants in the north to bolster that. We have some Keralan Indians, but not in any significant numbers as they do in Westminster and Southwark.”
Bishop Campbell’s predecessor, Patrick O’Donoghue was praised in Rome and within the Church in England for his Fit for Mission? document in which he suggested that “our Catholic schools and colleges must become powerhouses of evangelisation and catechesis.”
The Diocese of Lancaster invited people to place comments on its website, most of which were positive.
Michael Merrick, a teacher in the diocese called the letter “bold”, and said it “asks some genuinely courageous questions that will no doubt horrify some while delighting others”.
He praised the bishop’s call for evangelisation, adding: “For many Catholic schools, caught in the vice-like grip of external secular pressures placed on the schools system as a whole, as well as the identity-amnesia that has gripped the Church more widely, evangelisation as warranting even a footnote on the mission statement is essentially alien. Holistic visions of a Catholic education, encompassing both organisational structure and pedagogy, are simply trumped by the reality and demands of the schools sector: the dilution of any distinctive ethos thereby brought about through a mixture of cultural change within and without the Church and simple, cold reaction to legislative demand.”
Bishop Malcolm McMahon of Nottingham, chairman of the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales, said in a statement: “Bishop Michael Campbell has raised an important question during a time in which we are all having to examine our priorities. The Church has established her own schools because she considers them as a privileged means of promoting human formation and education in the Catholic faith; as such, Catholic schools contribute to the common good of society and support the Church’s evangelising mission, and are a valuable investment in our young people.
“As Bishop Michael says in his pastoral letter, we will not be able to find answers to the questions which he has raised ‘by human effort and planning alone, but only through a faith that seeks the will of the Father, through the grace of Christ and with the assistance of the Holy Spirit’.”
BY ED WEST
THE ARCHBISHOP of Dublin has appealed for a “more mature dialogue between Church and society in Ireland” at a Mass attended by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.
Celebrating World Day of Peace on Sunday at St Mary’s church in Haddington Road in Dublin, along with members of the government, politicians and diplomatic corps, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin prayed for a renewed sense of national purpose in the recession-hit country and greater solidarity with the poor.
The Primate of Ireland prayed for the nation, its leaders and all the country’s citizens and said that, though there were anxieties, believers entered the New Year with hope and with a “renewed commitment to work together to build up what is good”.
Addressing the role of the Church in Ireland in the past, he said: “Faith in Jesus Christ cannot be imposed on any individual. When attempts are made to impose faith on a society then the originality of faith is inevitably damaged.
“There have been dark moments in the history of the Catholic Church which have been unveiled in recent years. Church leaders have, over the years, overstepped the boundaries of their legitimate mandate,” he admitted. Yet, he said: “The contribution of individual believers and of the
Church as an institution to Ireland’s development and social culture has overall been positive.”
But, in comments that would not have gone unnoticed by members of the government, he said: “Certainly criticism, or even rejection of the Catholic Church and what it represents, is legitimate. But criticism is different from a negative and cynical caricature of faith or spin.
“By its very nature spin can turn into perpetual motion in which there remain few anchors around which to base values. A society which seeks only quick answers is the least apt to identify the values that endure.
“Renewal of the Church must also enable its prophetic voice to stand out uncompromised by the culture of any day,” he said.
The archbishop added: “A mature dialogue between Church and society in Ireland requires renewal in the Church.”
In July, following the Cloyne Report into the handling of abuse allegations, Mr Kenny attacked the Vatican in a speech at the Dáil, claiming that “a report into child sexual abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic... as little as three years ago”. He added that the Cloyne Report showed the Vatican’s “dysfunction [and] ... narcissism”.
NEWSBULLETIN Landmark Dome of Home church to re-open in March SS PETER and Paul, the Cheshire church that is to be re-opened in March after a campaign by parishioners, is to become a 24hour “beacon” for worship, according to its new priest.
in May it was announced that the traditionalist order, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, would make the church a centre for the Extraordinary Form Mass.
The Wirral church, known as the “Dome of Home”, was closed by the Diocese of Shrewsbury in August 2008 after it was decided it was too costly and large to maintain. But
Canon Olivier Meney said: “the dream is to have 24/7 public worship in the church, day and night. We are going to do that slowly, by steps. It will become a beacon.”
Fight breaks out at midnight Mass A FIGHT broke out at a church in Southampton during midnight Mass last month.
Heavy chairs were thrown down the aisle at St Edmund’s church after men attending the service before Christmas began fighting.
Mgr Vincent Harvey managed to continue the Mass before his shocked parishioners after police arrived to arrest the three men involved. Fr Harvey said: “There was loud talking going on at the back but I just assumed some people had had a bit too much to drink.
“But then about three or four minutes later, there were scuffles going on. Then it was obvious it was more than just a scuffle, there was actually a fight going on.”
He continued: “The person involved started throwing fairly heavy chairs down a side aisle, endangering people’s lives. People were frightened that it was happening. If they’d hit anybody they could have been badly injured.”
Abortion figures are released MORE than 100 unborn babies were aborted in 2010 by women expecting twins, triplets and quintuplets, in an effort to reduce their number of children.
According to figures from the Department of Health 101 women aborted their unborn child in this way during 2010, with some mother aborting two or more unborn babies. The number has risen from 59 women aborting at least one unborn child in 2006.
Caritas: reform care of elderly CARITAS Social Action Network has called on the Government to reform England’s “failing” care system for the elderly.
Helen O’Brien, chief executive, signed an open letter published in the Telegraph which claimed that an estimated 800,000 older people were being left “without basic care – lonely, isolated and at risk”. It pointed to “terrible examples” of neglect in the care system.
Long-serving headmaster dies STEPHEN SZEMERENYI, the second longest-serving headmaster at Finchley Catholic High School, has died at the age of 67. He served as headmaster of the school from 1983 to 1999.
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