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Our readers asked:

Can Catholics Donate Their Organs?

Mike Hayes Answers:

organs2Question: I recently started listening to your podcast. I was wondering what the Church teaches on organ donation after death. I have to renew my health card soon (I live in Canada), and I got a form for organ donation. I know that it helps others, but I also know that the body is special and that it will be used for our resurrection. Hope you can help, thanks!

The gift of one’s organs is a precious gift given to another. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was himself an organ donor when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and often lauded the practice of organ donation as long as it “is done with full consent and not part of a business transaction.” Once he became Pope and passed a certain age the donor card became obsolete.

Donating a kidney to save the life of another, for instance, can certainly be done with full blessing of the Church to save the life of a friend or relative. Donation after death is also acceptable as long as consent is given.

You mention that we are going to be reunited body and soul after the resurrection on the last day. And that is what Catholics believe. However, two things to note. A resurrected body is not merely a resuscitated body. Remember that Mary Magdalene confused Jesus with the gardener, so His resurrected body did not necessarily look like His old one and this is a foretaste of what will happen for us.

The second point is that all things are possible with God. If we donate skin and eyes and hearts and lungs for others, why would we think that God couldn’t somehow reunite all of us with our body parts once again? Our donor would just get their old body parts that ceased working and ours would return to us. There’s also not a need to take these things so literally, rather we should just have faith that God will make all things new again, however that might happen. I’m certain that the laws of biology are not what God is bound by — so however we are raised up, know that God can take care of it without us or the decisions that we make regarding our body parts.

 
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The Author : Mike Hayes
Mike Hayes is the senior editor for the Googling God section at BustedHalo.com.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Swiftright-Right/100002904084914 Swiftright Right

    Once your soul has exited I dont really thinks God cares much about the collection of oxygen hydrogen carbon and nitrogen that makes up the corpus.

  • http://www.facebook.com/veronica.zamarron.16 Veronica Zamarron

    I’d like clarification on cremation, as well. I know a couple of friends whose spouses were cremated when they died. Then the surviving spouses kept their loved ones’ ashes, intending to be cremated when THEY passed away. Then both husband and wife could have their ashes buried together. Is this permissible?

    • http://www.facebook.com/guinevere.s.jacobs Guinevere S Jacobs

      The Catechism of the Catholic Church 2301 says “The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body.” So there shouldn’t be a problem with cremation.

    • odoxymod

      Yes and no. Cremation is permissible, but the remains are to be given a proper Catholic burial in a Catholic cemetery or section of a cemetery (holy ground) as soon as possible, not kept on the mantlepiece and certainly never ever spread. They can of course still be buried in the same cemetery, even right next to each other, but it is proper that the deceased is buried as soon as possible.

  • Rachel DB

    Then a follow up question would be “what does the Church teach about cremation, and spreading of those ashes?” I have heard that, for the resurrection of the body, it is against Church teaching to spread cremated ashes.

    • http://www.facebook.com/guinevere.s.jacobs Guinevere S Jacobs

      Hi Rachel. I wouldn’t go on what you heard, as there are many misguided viewpoints out there, I would go by what the Bible and what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says. Only those two documents should matter. Paragraph 2301 of CCC says: “The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body.”, so as long as you believe that God will raise the body again, there’s no problem with cremation or spreading the ashes. Peace be with you.

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