Sep 26 – Homily – Fr Elias: Cosmas and Damian Brother Martyrs

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Homily #120926b ( 12min) Play - Fr. Elias on the martyrs Cosmas and Damian who were brothers and practiced medicine. He preaches on the need to have holy people in the medical profession who will follow God's commandment to respect life at all its stages whether this will win the favor of men or not.
Ave Maria!
Mass: Sts. Cosmas and Damian - Mem - Form: OF
Readings: Wednesday in the 25th Week in Ordinary Time
1st: pro 30:5-9
Resp: psa 119:29, 72, 89, 101, 104, 163
Gsp: luk 9:1-6

Audio (MP3)


Author apostolate

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  • Diana says:

    Has the Holy See said anything definitive about the “brain dead” organ harvesting that you referred to in your homily, Father? I am troubled by what I hear out there….I am confused by what I read, and I am a nurse, and it is still very unsettling to me. Can you point me to a trusted source on this? Thanks for a thought provoking and well spoken homily.
    Ave Maria!

  • FR ELIAS says:

    Ave Maria! Dear Diana, The issue of vital donor organ donation is a very serious matter in the Church which has not been properly addressed by many in the church who have the care of souls. Your best place to find the facts about vital organ donation is The Life Guardian Foundation and Dr. Paul Byrne. Dr. Byrne spoke twice at the Vatican about the problems with the false definition of Brain Death. He appeared with Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz as well who saw the danger in this false definition and the others that have been concocted since in order to get vital organs from living persons. Those who defend brain death and vital organ donation will tell you that the Catechism and Pope John Paul II support organ donation as a charitable deed, but they fail to tell their listener the whole story. If the conditions for organ donation were what the Holy Father assumed they were, namely the taking of organs from cadavers, i.e. people who were truly dead, then yes vital organ donation would be a charitable act. But as everyone knows, who is familiar with vital organ donation, this is not the reality and that vital organs are only useful if taken from a living person, of whom the taking of their vital organs becomes the true cause of death and not their original disease or condition. In other words, the organ transplant doctor kills the patient when he cuts out their still beating heart. It does not happen any other way and this is immoral and is not in accord with the teaching of the church. The Catechism of the Catholic states that vital organs may be only taken after death. When is someone dead who still have a beating heart, respiration and blood pressure? The answer sometimes given by proponents is that the machines are keeping the person alive. This is not good science or philosophy. The life support machines only support a vital function that is already present and does not make the the vital function a reality. For example the ventilator only puts air into the lung, it does not produce respiration which is a function of a living body. If respiration is taking place it is because the person is still living. Also just to make clear, the ventilator only puts air into the lungs, the natural elasticity of lungs of a living person pushes it back out. If it were a cadaver the lungs would burst because air would be coming in and not being pushed back out. This issue is not as complicated as some ethicists in the church would like to make it. Pope Benedict XVI said in 2008 that vital organs may only be taken ex cadavere, meaning from a person truly dead with all that a person with basic common sense would understand as a cadaver and truly dead. The present means of obtaining vital organs does not meet this criteria, therefore vital organ donation is immoral and no Catholic or Catholic Healthcare Professional or Institution can be involved in this practice. See the following link . The fact that there is so much doubt about this issue would seem to warrant the age old moral precept: Where there is prudent doubt, you may not act. Sad to say there are ethicists in the Church who claim to be the “official spokesmen” for the Church, who cannot see such simple truths. Those who oppose vital organ donation in the Church are treated in a similar fashion like the creationist scientists are treated by the evolutionist status quo, – ignored, belittled or slandered, but their arguments are never addressed or challenged. Diana I will pray for you and all those in the medical profession that this problem will be corrected. The simple solution is to follow the teaching of the church and its traditional teaching regarding true death and the separation of the body from the soul and what that means in the practical application in the concrete world. You may not hasten someones death or kill them to take their vital organs. The sad thing is that many of those parents who gave their loved ones up for organ donation do not realize that their loved ones could very well have survived their conditions had their organs not been extracted. Ave Maria!

  • Marian says:

    Fr. Elias,

    First of all, as I have stated to you before, I am not an organ donor nor have I had to make a decision about organ donation for anyone else. I will add that I am not a medical professional either. I am intersted only in what the official Church Teaching is on this issue. So, once again –

    I am just wondering if you read any of the links I provided?

    “In an interview with CNA on Sept. 21, Haas was wary of media hype potentially obscuring the real facts in the situation. He said that the Catholic Church and organ transplant professionals in the U.S. have been very clear about the importance of maintaining the “Dead Donor Rule,” which states that there must be “moral certitude” that a person is dead before the removal of organs for transplant.

    However, he also said that the National Catholic Bioethics Center sides with the Institute of Medicine, which recommends waiting five minutes after the heart has stopped beating to declare a patient’s death.”

    Are you saying that this statement is incorrect?

    “According to the magisterium of the Church, moral certitude in the determination of death can be achieved using either cardiopulmonary or neurological criteria. This means that Catholics may in good conscience offer the gift of life through the donation of their organs after death as determined on the basis of neurological or cardiopulmonary criteria, and Catholics may in good conscience receive such organs. This does not mean that the teaching is irreformable; the teaching may be modified on the basis of future scientific discoveries. It does mean that, at this point in time, the teaching can be followed with a clear conscience.”

    Are you saying that Dr. Byrne is more of an “official spokesman” than these? –

    And Pope John Paul II has not been the only one accepting the legitimacy of the neurological criterion for determining death. Others have been the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, the Pontifical Academy for Life, the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Workers, particularly in its Charter for Health Care Workers, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its acceptance of the Charter, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Bioethics Center at the official Catholic university in Rome, Sacred Heart University, and the United States Catholic Conference.

    When did Dr. Byrne speak at the Vatican? During any of these?

    “The Pontifical Academy of Sciences visited the question again in 2006 and published a statement in 2008 under the title “Why the Concept of Brain Death Is Valid as a Definition of Death.”23 The statement was signed primarily by neurologists, but it was also signed by three cardinals and one bishop who later became a cardinal. Furthermore, the meeting and publication of the statement took place during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. Thus three times now, under two different pontificates, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has concluded that the neurological criteria are a legitimate basis for determining death. No pope, no discastery of the Holy See, and no official consultative body to the Holy See has ever called into question this conclusion of the academy. Indeed, as noted, senior members of the hierarchy have concurred, as did John Paul II himself.”


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