Because the technology has not yet been developed, the bioethicists worry that the severed spine may never be reconstructed, leaving the patient worse off than before.
Despite the pervasive belief in the surgery's failure, Canavero claims there's a 90 percent chance that the human head transplant will succeed. And not only that, its success would allow humans to "no longer need to be afraid of death."
Father Tad Pacholczyk, who serves as a bioethicist for the National Catholic Bioethics Center, disagreed with Canavero's definition of being "brought back to life."
He said to assume death as a necessary product of either the head surgery or brain surgery is gullible and mistaken, as there is potential for the patient to be merely unconscious.
"The patient undergoing the head transplant is not dead, only unconscious," he told CNA. "There is not any 'bringing back to life'…There is merely a restoration of consciousness, briefly lost during the movement of the head from one human body to the other."
Scherz also said that the Church accepts an intimate and mysterious relationship between soul and body, and that the procedure's success wouldn't necessary disprove the soul or religion.
"Our neurological tissue has important part to play in our soul…The soul is always intimately related to the body. We are not just souls that are disembodied, right? We are embodied spirits or spirited bodies."
Most physicians agree that the proposed surgery's success rate is infinitesimal, and they've questioned the morality of a procedure that's doomed to fail – and the unrealistic hope life extension projects could give to people.
"I am concerned that the rights of vulnerable patients undergoing cryonics cannot be protected indefinitely," Dr. Channa Jayasena, a lecturer in Reproductive Endocrinology at Imperial College in London, told the Telegraph.
Cryonics, she said, "has risks for the patient, poses ethical issues for society, is highly expensive, but has no proven benefit."
And the hope for immortal life, Scherz weighed in, isn't a realistic desire in a fallen world. "Living forever in bodily form is not going to satisfy anyone," he said.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
"If the goal is not to help someone to get back bodily movement or things like that, but to try to live forever on this earth, then I think if you really want to get over the fear of death then you will have to come to terms with the fact that we are mortal."
"That what's going to help you to live a better life because you are going to be willing to give your life to things like service."
In fact, he said that people in transhumanist movements have admitted they would most likely avoid risky behavior in order to preserve their lives.
"If life extension projects come into being there is so much more to lose – and you committed yourself to trying to live on this earth for as long as possible, which stands in contrast to the Catholic tradition and a lot of the philosophical traditions," Scherz noted.
Perry West is a staff writer for Catholic News Agency. He graduated from Franciscan University with his bachelor's in English. Prior to his job at CNA, he worked in construction staffing and coffee.