“The identification of ‘brain death’ and the death of the human being can be maintained only if the personality of man is disconnected from being a human in the biological sense. . . . To do this by appealing to the doctrine of St. Thomas is absurd.”
In recent years the question of whether the cessation of brain activity is sufficient to determine the death of the human person has provoked sharp debate among Catholic moral philosophers and scientists. The editors of Communio hope to advance the discussion with the following collection of articles.
Brain Death: Part I
"The Church holds that death can be diagnosed on the basis of evidence that shows a complete loss of brain function, but may not be diagnosed if there is still some function of the brain."
Brain Death: Part II
You Only Die Once: Why Brain Death is Not the Death of a Human Being; A Reply to Nicholas Tonti-FilippiniD. Alan Shewmon
"[The] accusation that I am in conflict with Church teaching about death relies . . . not only on a mischaracterization of my position, but also on a mischaracterization of Church teaching itself. In point of fact, the Magisterium does not formally oblige us to hold that the brain is the master organ of somatic integration, or that its death is therefore the death of the human being as such. Nor does the hylemorphism espoused by Boethius, Aquinas, and the Council of Vienne entail any such claim."
“The medical question for us now is whether the irreversible loss of all brain function is accompanied by the disintegration and loss of unity to which the Pope refers.”
Brain Death: Continuing Online Discussion