Vatican Protests Euthanasia of Disabled Man Vincent Lambert as ‘Grave Violation’

Italian members of the support committee of French quadriplegic Vincent Lambert, hold a banner reading "#I'm Vincent Lambert" as they protest in front of Montecitorio, the Italian Parliament, in central Rome, on May 20, 2019. - Vincent Lambert, a quadriplegic man who has been in a vegetative state for the …
ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty
THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

The Vatican has issued a rare statement protesting attempts to euthanize Vincent Lambert, a 42-year-old Frenchman left disabled by a road accident in 2008.

In a joint statement Tuesday, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the department for Laity, Family, and Life, and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, who runs the Pontifical Academy for Life, said they wished “to reiterate the grave violation of the dignity of the person entailed by the suspension of food and hydration.”

A Paris appeals court has in fact ordered the resumption of basic care for Vincent after his feeding tube was removed Monday, pending a review by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but his situation is still precarious.

The two prelates said that they fully endorsed a statement made by Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort of Reims regarding Vincent Lambert, in which he urged the French government not embark upon “the path of euthanasia.”

Italian members of the support committee of French quadriplegic Vincent Lambert, hold a banner reading "#I'm Vincent Lambert" as they protest in front of Montecitorio, the Italian Parliament, in central Rome, on May 20, 2019. - Vincent Lambert, a quadriplegic man who has been in a vegetative state for the last decade, currently in Sebastopol hospital where doctors began switching off the life support. The dispute over the fate of Vincent Lambert has split his own family and even become a subject of political tension in France ahead of the weekend's European elections. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)

Italian members of the support committee of French quadriplegic Vincent Lambert, hold a banner reading “#I’m Vincent Lambert” as they protest in front of Montecitorio, the Italian Parliament, in central Rome, on May 20, 2019. ( ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)

“The ‘vegetative state’ is certainly a serious pathological state, but it does not in any way compromise the dignity of persons who find themselves in this condition,” the Vatican authorities said in their statement, “nor their fundamental rights to life and care, understood as continuity of basic human assistance.”

“Nutrition and hydration are a form of essential care that is always proportionate to the maintenance of life,” they said, and “feeding a sick person is never a form of unreasonable therapeutic obstinacy, as long as the organism of the individual is able to absorb nutrition and hydration, unless it causes intolerable suffering or is detrimental to the patient.”

Suspending nutrition and hydration, on the contrary, is “a form of abandonment of the sick person, founded on a merciless judgment of his quality of life, and the expression of a throwaway culture that targets the most fragile and defenseless people, without recognizing their uniqueness and immense value,” the bishops said.

“The continuity of care is an unavoidable duty,” they said.

The prelates conclude their statement expressing their hope that “effective solutions to protect the life of Mr. Lambert can be found as soon as possible.”

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