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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Vatican officials support continued care of man in vegetative state

The withdrawal of nutrition and hydration from a patient whose body can absorb them is a “serious violation” of the person’s dignity, said two Vatican officials.

“The continuation of assistance is an unavoidable obligation,” said Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

The cardinal and archbishop issued a statement on 21st May regarding the case of Vincent Lambert, a 42-year-old French man who has been in a vegetative state since being involved in a motorcycle accident in 2008.

His wife and six of his siblings have supported a recommendation made by doctors in 2013 that the provision of nutrition and hydration through a gastric tube should be stopped. Lambert is able to breathe on his own.

But Lambert’s parents and two other siblings have been fighting the decision in courts, insisting that nutrition and hydration are not extraordinary measures of prolonging his life.

‘In France, in 2019, no-one should die of hunger and thirst,’ his parents said in an open letter to French President Emmanuel Macron.

Picture: People participate in a march in Paris on 20th May 2019, to support maintaining nutrition for quadriplegic Vincent Lambert, in this picture obtained from social media. In a 21st May statement, two Vatican officials added support for keeping Lambert alive, saying withdrawal of nutrition and hydration is a “serious violation” of a person’s dignity. (CNS photo/Tancrede Doutrebentee, Reuters).