Kolbe Report 5/20/23

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Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

On many occasions over the years, the Kolbe Center has linked the so-called “brain death” criterion for determining human death with the abandonment of the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation and its handmaiden, Aristotelian philosophy.   As long as the traditional doctrine and its accompanying philosophy were upheld, it would have been unthinkable for any Catholic doctor to declare a person dead whose circulatory and respiratory systems had not completely shut down and begun to deteriorate.  With the widespread acceptance of human evolution, however, the majority of Catholic intellectuals have embraced the idea that it was some marvelous mutations in the brain of our sub-human primate ancestors that distinguished them from the apes and disposed them to receive a human soul.  This idea in turn has reinforced the erroneous notion that it is the brain that makes a person human, and that if the brain ceases to function normally, it is appropriate to declare the person dead, so that his organs can be removed for the benefit of other human beings in need of transplants.

By the grace of God, there has always been a minority among Catholic Bishops, priests, and lay experts who have refused to go along with this abomination.  Dr. Paul Byrne stands at the forefront of the community of Catholic medical doctors who reject the “brain death” criterion for human death. He and his close associate Dr. Christine Zainer have sounded the alarm over a current effort here in the United States to make it even easier for medical personnel to declare vulnerable patients “brain dead” and to hasten their deaths through inappropriate testing used to determine whether they satisfy the “brain death” criteria.   I urge you to read the cover letter below, then print out and sign the letter to “The Honorable Samuel Thumma & All Members of the Determination of Death Act Committees & Style/Drafting Committees” and mail it to Dr. Christine Zainer, P.O. Box 26635, Milwaukee, WI 53226, as soon as possible.

Dear Friends of Life,

Medical and legal elites want the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) to change the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA) to make so-called “brain death” (BD) easier to declare, explicitly without consent, including for the apnea test which removes the life-supporting ventilator and only risks harm.

Conscience opt outs have been discussed if objection is made PRIOR to initiation of BD exam and testing protocols. Physicians and providers were not included. NOT just!

If you agree with the attached letter to the ULC prepared by Drs. Paul Byrne and Christine Zainer please sign and return, before June 9, 2023 to:

Christine Zainer

P.O. Box 26635

Milwaukee, WI 53226

We will keep a copy and send signed letters in a bundle for distribution to its members, after June 9, 2023, but before July 12, 2023, in anticipation of their annual meeting July 21, 2023.

Links for more information:

To: The Honorable Samuel Thumma & All Members of the Determination of Death Act Committees & Style/Drafting Committees; Uniform Law Commission; 111 N. Wabash Avenue, Suite 1010; Chicago, IL 60602; E-mail:; Phone: (312) 450-6600

In light of the fact that you may be revising the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA), this urgent letter strongly encourages you to repeal and replace the current UDDA with the model statute below.

The new Act must protect life until death (certain death, no evidence of biological life). Death is the cessation of the person’s life on earth. The soul or life force, not any one body part, is the unifying life principle. The precise moment when the soul, the immaterial life force, separates from the body is of paramount importance but that precise moment for this immaterial event is unknowable, hence only after the fact can criteria be used to verify that it has occurred.

There is no ground for legal presumption or less secure criteria. The right to live is the most basic right. The State is obligated to protect the person’s right to live until death. This obligation is independent of any other interest, assuming innocence of a capital crime.

The public has not been informed that a person declared dead by neurological criteria (DNC), i.e., “brain death” (BD) has a beating heart, circulation, respiration (exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide) albeit with a ventilator. Urine production, digestion, waste excretion, wound healing, temperature maintenance, and homeostasis of interdependently functioning organs and systems are present. There is the ability to carry and nourish the baby in the womb if pregnant. The BD patient may be called a “corpse,” but is not a corpse and is not suitable for burial, cremation, or vital, unpaired organ excision.

BD criteria are based on bedside observation of lack of functions, presumed to be “irreversible” or “permanent,” neither of which can be tested empirically. They do not require necrosis or destruction.

The apnea test is part of BD testing. During the apnea test procedure, the life-supporting ventilator is disconnected for up to 10 minutes. There are no benefits to the patient, only risks of harm.

  1. The statute ought to protect the person from being declared dead when still alive. Full and complete information about the apnea test and any tests used to declare BD must be provided with freedom, at any time, by patients, surrogates, physicians, and other health care providers, to decline or cease the apnea test, exams, and protocols, for the determination and declaration of BD.
  2. Treatment options ought to be made available that protect and preserve the life of the patient, even if disability is a potential outcome. Treatments should not be denied based on “quality-of-life” judgments by caregivers even though a patient or surrogate may legitimately refuse them.
  3. Model statute below, in the negative, sets minimum criteria before death is declared. This minimum fulfills a change in state of the three vital systems to protect living patients from being treated as dead.

“No one shall be declared dead unless respiratory and circulatory systems and the entire brain have been destroyed. Such destruction shall be in accord with universally accepted medical standards.”


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May God who created all things, who redeemed us by His Precious Blood, and who sanctifies us by His Life-giving sacraments, bless you for defending the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death!

In Domino,

Hugh Owen

P.S. Fr. Maximilian Dean has organized a conference on the Absolute Primacy of Christ to be held July 14-16, 2023, at the Holy Spirit Center in the Norwood neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio.  According to this doctrine, the Incarnation and the Immaculate Conception were integral to God’s original plan for creation from before the foundation of the world and were not merely a response to the need for Redemption after the Fall of Adam.  The Symposium will provide an opportunity for scholars—including Bradford Fellmeth and myself as representatives of the Kolbe Center—to present theological arguments in favor of the absolute primacy of Christ and to create a resource for theologians and faithful alike who want to learn more about the beauty and intricacies of this Christocentric perspective of creation and salvation history.  The symposium is open to the public, and I encourage all of you have an interest in this important subject to attend.  You can find detailed information about the conference at this link.

P.P.S. Our annual leadership retreat has been scheduled to take place from August 27-September 2, 2023, at the Apostolate for Family Consecration retreat center in Bloomingdale, Ohio.  For more information or to register, please contact me at

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