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Vincent Lambert. Msgr. Ginoux (Montauban): “This death is outrageous because it fails to acknowledge the continuation of life”

“His suffering has come to an end”, commented Bishop Ginoux from Montauban at the news of the death of Vincent Lambert on Thursday morning at the Hospital of Reims, ten days after removal of nutrition or hydration. “This death is outrageous because if fails to acknowledge the continuation of life”, said the bishop who has a long experience as hospital chaplain: “Vincent Lambert was alive, he was leading a real life supported by nutrition and hydration, like everyone else. It shouldn't have gone that far.”

“Vincent Lambert was alive, he was kept alive with no external means, except for food and hydration, which is what we all need.”  Mons. Bernard Ginoux, bishop of Montauban, told SIR over the phone. “Of course, he was fed with nutrition tubes because it couldn’t be ascertained whether he had his ability to swallow was impaired.” But what is really “abnormal” is that “no one has taken care of him since 2013, while he should have been brought to a specialized clinic for people who suffer from impaired functions, but who are still alert.” The bishop continues, “Lambert had states of wakefulness and of sleep, he followed with his eyes. The fact that it took him ten days to die testifies to this: he had a vital force within him, which his parents tried to call attention to.”

Lambert “is a martyr of our modern world”, and his death “is contrary to moral conscience, for killing is forbidden by law and by our Christian conscience, because we cannot act on God’s behalf, Lord of life.” The fact that his family is Catholic is not important, the bishop pointed out: “He was a human being, entitled to respect for life”, this is the overriding fact.  “We run the risk of applying the same procedure to the elderly or severely disabled in the near future.”  This case “poses a great problem of civilization and by progressing with medically assisted procreation and cases similar to this one, France is slowly moving towards the alteration of  what is human.”

“1,500 people in France are in the same situation as Lambert”, not to mention other known cases, such as that of the German pilot Michael Schumacher, mentioned by Bishop Ginoux. Lambert was subjected to this practice, “on the assumption that he had no intention of living in those conditions.” But in the light of the years spent in hospital alongside so many dying people, “I saw people who on their deathbed demanded continued treatment because they wanted to live, while they had declared otherwise at an earlier stage. The things we say when we are alive can change later on. And in any case, there was no evidence that Lambert had ever declared those intentions.”

Vincent Lambert “is a martyr of our modern world”, and his death “is contrary to moral conscience, because killing is forbidden by law and by our Christian conscience, because we cannot act on God’s behalf, on behalf of the Lord of life.”

Mons. Ginoux reiterated it many times over the past weeks and months, even via Twitter: “We must respect this life completely. Helping people to live is our duty as Christians. Life is a gift from God and we have no right to destroy it, and no law overrides this.”

The fact that his family is Catholic is not important, the bishop pointed out: “He was a human being, entitled to respect for life”, this is the overriding fact.  “We run the risk of applying the same procedure to the elderly or severely disabled in the near future.”  This case “poses a great problem of civilization and by progressing with medically assisted procreation and cases similar to this one, France is slowly moving towards the alteration of  what is human.”

“I think they didn’t want him to live long – the bishop said. – In France there is a strong pro- euthanasia lobby. They appealed against this case to claim that rather than making him die slowly, he should have been killed immediately, since it would have been better for him.” We saw experts reach different conclusions across the years: some declared that he was unaware, others disagreed. “We witnessed what could be defined as medical inertia, to leave everything as it is.” Lambert’s case is “emblematic and somehow it will set a precedent for similar situations in the near future”: from now on, instead of waiting, people will ask to act immediately under the guise of a “euthanasia of comfort.”

“This is the prevailing line of thought of medical practice across hospitals in France, marked by a desire for dominance, to be lords of life and of death. Oddly enough, death is being caused to avoid being confronted by failure. We are witnessing excessive medicalization, as in pregnancies: when the smallest detail is off-balance, if something is detected, the woman is forced to have an abortion. It’s a systematic process. Similarly, when a patient can no longer be treated, the medical world wants to make him/her disappear, as if it were a medical failure.”

There is also the growing phenomenon of people (including Catholics) who to go to ‘death clinics’ in Belgium and Switzerland, “this raises a major question to our conscience.” These are “ready-made suicides, sought for fear of illness and death, which, paradoxically, are self-inflicted. Principles such as respect for life are no longer needed, they are removed from our thoughts, from our conscience, and this happens even among Christians.”

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