Your web browser is out of date. Update your browser for more security, speed and the best experience on this site.

Update your browser

Revising the Concept of Death (Again?)

Julia Palmieri

In 1981, a law known as the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA) was passed that rendered the medical determination of death uniform across America. Prior to this, death was identified by cardiopulmonary criteria, that is, the irreversible cessation of heartbeat and respiratory functions. The UDDA, however, legally enshrined a new way of understanding and identifying death’s occurrence, enabling physicians to declare the death of patients who were “brain dead” but still had a heartbeat.

Continue Reading
Current Issue

in Progress

Now and at the Hour of Our Death

Issue Two / 2023

Christians desire a "happy death," one that is neither sudden nor unforeseen. They want to face death prepared: vigilant, amends made, sins confessed, in the company of their loved ones and the saints, all interceding for them at their appointed hour. But such a death is only possible if one is responding to a call from the One who has vivified their lives all along. Absent that, one can only want to be taken unawares or put to sleep "mercifully," then annihilated with the compost. The unhappy deaths we are witnessing today represent not first a moral crisis, but a crisis of meaning.

View Issue

Past Issues

Humanum is about the human: what makes us human, what keeps us human, and what does not. We are driven by the central questions of human existence: nature, freedom, sexual difference and the fundamental figures to which it gives rise, man, woman, and child. We probe these in the context of marriage, family, education, work, medicine and bioethics, science and technology, political and ecclesial life. We sift through the many competing ideas of our age so that we might “hold fast to what is good” and let go of what is not. In addition to articles, witness pieces, and book reviews ArteFact: Film & Fiction searches out the human in the literary and cinematic arts.

Humanum is published as a free service by the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C.