Pope Francis Urges Promotion of Organ Donation ‘Culture’

Pope Francis bends to kiss a child participating into a public audience to patients and employees of Rome's pediatric hospital Bambino Gesu, held in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

ROME — Pope Francis addressed organ donation Saturday morning, urging Catholics to promote this practice as “an offering to the Lord.”

Jesus “has identified himself with those who suffer because of illness, traffic accidents, or work accidents,” the pope said, and, therefore, it “is good for Jesus’ disciples to offer their organs, within legal and moral bounds, because it is a gift made to the suffering Lord, who said that everything we do to a brother in need we do to Him.”

Speaking in the Vatican to members of the Italian Association for the Donation of Organs, Tissues and Cells (AIDO), Francis said it is “important to promote a culture of donation,” favoring “the offering of a part of the body, without disproportionate risks or consequences, as a living donation, and all the organs after a person’s death.”

While praising organ donation as an act of “love and altruism,” the pontiff, nonetheless, cautioned against the sale of human organs, which would produce a “commodification of the body or its parts,” which is “contrary to human dignity.”

Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Francis said that organ donation after death “is a noble and meritorious act and is to be encouraged as a [sic] expression of generous solidarity.”

“It is not morally acceptable if the donor or his proxy has not given explicit consent,” the Catechism continues. “Moreover, it is not morally admissible to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons.”

For those who do not have a religious faith, Francis said, the donation of organs is a gesture towards needy brothers and sisters, which should be performed “on the basis of an ideal of disinterested human solidarity.”

The generous act of donation serves as a counterweight to contemporary threats against life, “such as the case of abortion and euthanasia,” he said, and help people understand that “life is a something sacred.”

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