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Rome Reports

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Vatican statement on Vincent Lambert: grave violation to refuse nutrition and hydration

The Vatican's Dicastery of Laity, Family and Life and the Pontifical Academy of Life issued a statement that withdrawing nutrition and hydration is a grave violation of the dignity of the person. 

They say “nutrition and hydration constitute a form of essential care. The suspension of such care represents, a form of abandonment... based on a pitiless judgment of the quality of life.” 

This communication is referring to Vincent Lambert, a 42-year-old Frenchman who has been in a vegetative state for the past 10 years. 

For the past six years, there has been a legal battle over whether or not life support should be withdrawn. The case is especially difficult since Vincent did not leave specific instructions before his car accident in 2008. His wife is his legal guardian and believes he does not want to continue in this state, while his parents are fighting for his life. 

On Monday, he was taken off life support and given strong doses of sedation. However, hours later, a French court ordered the life support return until the case is reviewed by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

The same day, Pope Francis tweeted about the situation, saying: “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.”

The French President, Emmanuel Macron commented on Facebook on Monday saying, “Today, as president of the Republic, it does not belong to me to suspend a decision that is based on the appreciation of his doctors and who is in conformity with our laws.”

However, when the news arrived that life support should continue, French citizens were celebrating.