Pope Francis has called for respect for the lives of two disabled persons due to be euthanized, urging prayers for Vincent Lambert in France and Alfie Evans in England.
Urging respect for the will of “family members” in end-of-life decisions, Francis highlighted the critical nature of both cases, since the parents of both Alfie and Vincent are strongly opposed to the rulings of medical personnel that the two patients should be taken off life support.
“I entrust to your prayers people like Vincent Lambert, in France, little Alfie Evans, in England, and others in different countries, who live, sometimes for a long time, in a state of serious infirmity, assisted medically for their primary needs,” the pope told the crowds gathered in Saint Peter’s Square Sunday for the weekly prayer of the Regina Caeli.
By underscoring the fact that both patients are receiving care only for their primary needs—Alfie is on a ventilator and Vincent receives only food and water—Francis called to mind fundamental Catholic ethical teaching that such ordinary care is due to the human person.
“These are delicate, very painful and complex situations,” the pope continued. “We pray that every sick person is always respected in his dignity and cared for in an appropriate way to his condition, with the agreement of family members, doctors and other health workers, with great respect for life.”
This is the second time that Pope Francis has intervened on behalf of Alfie Evans, having already tweeted support for him and his parents on April 4.
In that message, the pontiff said he hoped that “everything necessary may be done in order to continue compassionately accompanying little Alfie Evans, and that the deep suffering of his parents may be heard.”
He added that he was praying for the child, his family and all involved.
The Vatican’s Bambino Gesù hospital offered to treat Alfie, even though consultants from the hospital agreed that there was no chance of curing him. As it did with the similar case of young Charlie Gard, the Vatican hospital offered to take him to Rome for treatment, proposing operations to help him breathe and eat, which would have allowed him to survive for an “undefined period.”
Last week, a High Court judge in the UK ruled that Alfie Evans must be removed from life support against the wishes of his parents, backing the decision by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to allow the 23-month-old baby boy to die.
Alfie’s parents Tom Evans and Kate James had exhausted all options in fighting the decision through the UK courts and the European Court of Human Rights two months after the hospital made the decision to stop treating the child.
The parents have argued that it is wrong for the state to interfere in their medical choices for their son, and last Thursday morning, they refused to sign papers permitting the end of their son’s life.
In the case of Vincent Lambert, the Sebastopol Hospital in Reims, France, has ordered that their patient no longer receive food and water, which will cause him to die of starvation. As Breitbart News reported last week, Vincent suffered severe trauma to the skull in an automobile accident in 2008 that left him a quadriplegic, but he is not terminally ill.
Vincent’s physician Dr. Vincent Sanchez ruled last Monday that continuing to feed and hydrate the patient constituted “unreasonable obstinacy” and ordered that he be euthanized within ten days, despite the fact that he breathes on his own and his internal organs function normally.
Vincent’s parents have forcefully opposed attempts to euthanize their son, but their legal remedies appear to be exhausted.
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