Communio_39.3Communio is the quarterly journal founded in 1972 by a Catholic pantheon – Ratzinger, von Balthasar, Ouellet, de Lubac, Bouyer, Kasper and others. Its most recent issue, although labeled Fall 2012, was mailed out in the last two weeks. Most of this issue is taken up with a debate on brain death.

Nicholas Tonti-Filippini, a bioethicist from the pontifical John Paul II for Marriage and Family in Melbourne, Australia argues the mainstream view. Which is the “mentalist view” of death, that “when a human being ceases to be able to function at those higher levels of activity that we consider human or even sentient life, then the person has died even if the body continues to function.”

Shewman, who is professor of neurology and pediatrics at UCLA med school and chief of department of neurology at Olive View-UCLA medical center in Sylmar (CA), argues this way: “Neither the empirical evidence nor Church teaching requires us to hold that the brain is ‘essential’ for organismic somatic integration, or that the brain’s death is automatically the death of a human being.”

To read Tonti-Filippini’s article, click “Bodily Integration”: A Response to Robert Spaemann

To read Shewman’s article, click You Only Die Once: Why Brain Death is Not the Death of a Human Being; A Reply to Nicholas Tonti-Filippini