French doctors have begun the procedure of forcibly euthanizing Vincent Lambert by removing the nourishment and water necessary for him to continue living.
Learning of the news, Pope Francis launched a tweet Monday calling all life a gift from God, “from its beginning until its natural end.”
“Let us always safeguard life,” the pope said, and let us “not give in to a throwaway culture.”
We pray for those who live with severe illness. Let us always safeguard life, God’s gift, from its beginning until its natural end. Let us not give in to a throwaway culture.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) May 20, 2019
Vincent, who is now 42 years old, has been hospitalized since 2008 following a car accident that left him a quadriplegic. Despite the gravity of his injuries, Vincent is not terminally ill. He breathes independently, his heartbeat is spontaneous, his internal organs function normally, and he is not dying.
Vincent’s parents have strenuously objected to plans to euthanize their son and have sought to transfer him to another facility to receive adequate care. “They are killing him, without telling us anything,” his mother Viviane stated on French television.
The case has also been compared to that of Terri Schiavo in the United States, a woman in a “permanent vegetative state” who was euthanized in 2005. In both cases, the spouse of the patient pushed for the removal of nutrition and hydration while the parents fought for the life of their child.
Supporters of Vincent have exhausted all legal channels after the French Council of State and the European Court of Human Rights rejected requests to continue feeding and hydrating Vincent. The United Nations Committee for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requested that France not start the procedures to end Vincent’s life, but the French Health Minister, Agnès Buzyn, said she did not consider the Committee’s request to be binding.
Last year, Pope Francis spoke out twice of Vincent Lambert’s case, along with that of Alfie Evans in the UK, pleading for their lives.
“I draw attention again to Vincent Lambert and Little Alfie Evans, and I would like to reiterate and strongly confirm that the only Lord of life, from the beginning to the natural end, is God!” Francis announced.
“And our duty is to do everything to preserve life,” the pope said. “We think in silence and pray that the lives of all people and especially of these two brothers of ours be respected.”
The archbishop of Reims, Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, has also released a statement appealing for the life of Vincent, declaring that “it is the honor of a human society not to let one of its members die of hunger or thirst and to do everything possible to maintain appropriate care till the end.”
Mincing no words, the archbishop said that euthanizing a person like Vincent in order to save on the costs of caring for him “would ruin the efforts of our civilization.”
“The greatness of humanity consists in considering the dignity of its members, especially the most vulnerable, as inalienable and inviolable,” he stated.
“The duty of society is to help him,” he concluded. “We continue to pray and we also invite you to do so, so that our French society does not take the path of euthanasia.”