Christians Have Moral Duty to Donate Blood, Organs, Church of England Bishops Say

St. Mary's Church at Woburn in southern England, May 15, 2015.
St. Mary's Church at Woburn in southern England, May 15, 2015. | (Photo: Reuters/Toby Melville)

The Church of England is making a push to encourage Christians to donate blood and organs, saying that it is their moral duty to do so.

Anglican bishops from West Yorkshire and Dales recently called on the church to do more to encourage these donations during a recent general assembly gathering, pointing to the country's dwindling blood supply.

During the three-day synod meeting, James Newcome, bishop of Carlisle, called on the church to make blood donation an acceptable "sacrificial offering" required by Christians.

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"That 'sacrificial offering' is usually associated with time, money and gifts. But it applies just as much to the blood that flows in our veins and the organs that are such an intrinsic part of our bodies," Newcome told fellow church leaders, as reported by The Guardian.

Great Britain's National Health Society (NHS) has started a variety of campaigns angled at recruiting more citizens to donate blood, including the Be There campaign in October 2015 that sought to "highlight the need for more blood and organ donors from the black community as currently less than 1% of blood and organ donors are from this group."

Another one of these campaigns, "Flesh and Blood," involves collaboration between the NHS and the Church of England.

The effort seeks "to raise the profile of donation within the church and encourage donation as a personal gift," as well as "equip individuals and churches as advocates for donation helping them engage with their family, friends and community."

The current Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Bishop Newcombe have been outspoken proponents of the church's Flesh and Blood campaign for the past several years.

In 2013, the two church leaders met with Dr. Paul Murphy, who serves as head of organ donations for NHS Blood and Transplant, to discuss the lack of donors in the U.K.

Dr. Murphy said in a statement following the meeting that "there continues to be a great need for people throughout the UK to register to donate blood and organs. It is incredibly encouraging to have the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop James and the Church of England, and the broader UK Church. It is through partnerships like the fleshandblood campaign that we will see awareness rise and the current need met."

The Catholic Church joined the Church of England's Flesh and Blood campaign in October 2014, with Pope Francis saying at a Rome meeting with the Transplantation Committee for the Council of Europe that organ and blood donation serves as "a testimony of love for our neighbor."

Following the meeting, the Most Rev. Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark, commemorated the Catholic Church for joining the push for more contributors.

"The Catholic Church is clear that, in itself it is a good and meritorious thing freely to donate our organs after we are dead. Even while we are alive, actions such as giving blood can be a powerful expression of human solidarity and of Christian charity. Such actions can help build a culture of life, a culture in which life is cherished. For this reason I welcome initiatives such as fleshandblood which encourages people to think of serving others in this way, as a form of Christian charity," Smith said in 2014.

As The Guardian reports, some Anglican leaders are also campaigning to have the country's laws changed so blood and organs can be taken from any deceased individual unless they express objections prior to their death.

The current law, similar to the U.S., requires citizens to give their approval for their organs to be used after their death.

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