Join us for an Evening with Fr. Robert Barron

Fr. Robert Barron serves as the Rector of Mundelein Seminary; is founder of Word on Fire and producer of the acclaimed Catholicism series.

He will be speaking at an event benefitting the mission of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability. To download a flyer regarding the event click on the image below. To register for the event or make a donation visit




National Catholic Bioethics Report

The National Scene: 

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged Catholics nationwide to participate in Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage, January 19th through the 27th, marking the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.1 This year’s turnout for the events surrounding the March for Life was phenomenal, with some estimates as high as 600,000. 

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the dismissal of a suit, by the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, concerning government funding of embryonic stem cell research, which relies on destroyed human embryos. Two scientists have been challenging President Obama’s 2009 executive order which allowed federal funding of research on stem cells taken from human embryos as a violation of the 1996 Dickey-Wicker law.2 

The Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act is before the U.S. House of Representatives.  It would prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving federal dollars for providing contraception.3 

Read the full report here.


Sum of Their Parts

NCPD Board Chair Emeritus, Stephen Mikochik pens a criticism of the drafted organ donation policy and the procedure by which it came about. Read this article in the new forum by Human Life International, Truth and Charity. Click here for the article.


National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness and Mental Illness Awareness Week 2012

The National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding is Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Mental Illness Awareness Week 2012: Oct. 7-13, 2012

Resources for the day and week can be found in the resource manual “Welcomed and Valued” available on the NCPD website (click here). See the corresponding page numbers next to the following suggestions.

Some suggestions for that day and week:

For one of the regularly scheduled masses on the National Day of prayer, request that the mass intention be for people with mental illness and their families. Meet afterwards for discussion.

Have a prayer service for people with mental illness and their families. (see pg 60 for “Prayers and Reflections”)

In addition to the above, during Mental Illness Awareness Week parishes can offer the following:


NCPD Ethics Committee Points out Serious Flaws in Proposed Organ Donation Policy

The NCPD Board Ethics Committee has weighed in on the latest step in the proposal to change existing organ donation policies. For the full opinion click here. Certain excerpts are included below.

"It is hard not to conclude that the decision to change the Model Elements was made well before its comment period ended and that those who took the time to submit substantive comments were drawn into a futile gesture"

"Because of the obvious pressure placed on vulnerable patients and families, commenters further challenged the proposal’s refusal to keep separate the decision to donate from that to withdraw life-support. Even the OPTN Ethics Committee did “not agree with the OPO approaching the family prior to decision to withdraw treatment or support.”"

"[B]y extending DCD candidacy to patients whose “disease” is not necessarily terminal but that otherwise renders them dependent on life-support, the proposal singles out a class of persons, disabled under federal civil rights law, for adverse treatment. Comments warned this could jeopardize OPTN’s relation with HHS which is forbidden from entering into contractual arrangements with the purpose or effect of discriminating against people with disabilities."



PBS Video features member of the Mental Illness Council

The PBS video series Religion and Ethics Newsweekly features Connie Rakitan as she tells us about the Faith and Fellowship group in Chicago Illinois. Connie is council member of the NCPD Council on Mental Illness. Please click the image below to see this well made 8:00 minute video. The section on Faith and Fellowship begins about the 5:00 mark.



NCPD Submits Comments to UNOS Opposing Changes on Organ Donation Procedures

NCPD Urges the Rejection of the Proposed Changes in the Model Elements in Organ Donation

On behalf of NCPD and the fourteen million Catholics with disabilities it serves, I urge UNOS to reject the proposal for changing the DCD Model Elements.

The proposed changes aim “to maximize the number of donors and transplants by identifying … currently unrealized donor potential [.]” As laudable as that objective is, it cannot justify singling out a class of disabled people, those dependent on life-support, for adverse treatment. Under the proposal, for example, the hospital and local OPO may examine patients on life-support to determine their eligibility for organ donation without their knowledge or consent, even though they are neither terminal nor near death. Further, the hospital may initiate a request for donation of such patient’s organs before the decision to withdraw life-support is made. Finally, the OPO is not required to condition eligibility for organ donation on assurances that a conscious patient’s decision to have life-support withdrawn is voluntary and not a product of clinical depression.

Simply put, the proposed changes subject a class of disabled people to discriminatory treatment, while offering justifications that are inapposite, unconvincing, and clearly violative of patients’ rights.


To read the full set of comments click here.


Action Alert on Organ Donation

Action Alert

Proposed Modifications to the Requirements for Organ Donation Could Adversely Impact People with Disabilities –
Send your Comments Today

The National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD) urges you to express your concerns directly by computer submission to stop serious threats to hospitalized persons with disabilities on life support. Such threats are due to occur if current proposals are put into effect that would increase pressure on individuals and families to decline further treatment in order for the patient’s organs to be donated.

The organization we are asking you to contact is the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network (OPTN)/ United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). OPTN was established by the U.S. Congress to act as a unified transplant network, but is operated by a private, non-profit organization under federal contract, in orderto ensure the success and efficiency of the U.S. organ transplant system. Under federal law, all U.S. transplant centers and organ procurement organizations must be members of this network to receive any funds through Medicare.


Recent Activity by Ethics Committee

Just a sample of the latest items taken on by the Ethics Committee

  1. The Maryland Catholic Conference has expressed its gratitude for the input provided by NCPD that helped defeat a legislative initiative which would have allowed harvesting of paired organs (e.g., one kidney) for organ donation from patients living in the persistent vegetative state.
  2. Georgia’s legislature has passed a law reversing the court decision that legalized physician assisted suicide in that state.  NCPD sent two letters encouraging the Governor to sign into law the ban [The Governor signed the legislation into law.]

Call to Action: Stop the Violation of the Right to Religious Liberty

Last August, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandated that under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act almost all private health plans are to include with no co-pay “preventive services for women.” These “services” will include sterilization, all FDA-approved birth control (such as the IUD, Depo-Provera, ‘morning-after’ pills, and the abortion-inducing drug Ella), and the “well-women preventive visits,” described as including prenatal screening for genetic or developmental conditions (thus, potentially “preventing” the birth of babies deemed unfit eugenically, since there are presently no available prenatal treatments for most of these conditions). The HHS exemption for a religious employer is so narrow that it is virtually meaningless. Despite an outcry from persons who respect our cherished tradition of religious freedom, on February 10 President Obama adopted this policy as a final rule “without change” (Federal Register, 2/15/12, 8725). Religious organizations which cannot qualify for the exemption will have an extra year to comply; but before the end of that period, an additional rule will be issued to make sure that their employees receive the mandated coverage despite the employer’s objection. 

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