"May every sick person be respected in their dignity"
By Christopher Wells
Pope Francis called attention to the plight of Frenchman Vincent Lambert, and British infant Alfie Evans during remarks at the Regina Coeli on Sunday.
The families of Lambert and Evans have been fighting legal battles to ensure their loved ones continue to receive necessary, basic medical care. Lambert was seriously injured in a car accident in 2008, leaving him quadriplegic. However, his parents, with the concurrence of some doctors, say he is not in a coma, is able to breathe unassisted, and his internal organs are working normally. Doctors and officials at Sebastopol Hospital in Reims, however, want to remove “ordinary means of life support,” namely, food and water. Doing so would bring about Lambert’s death, and would be considered passive euthanasia.
"Little Alfie Evans"
Alfie Evans, meanwhile, in Liverpool, England, is suffering an as yet undiagnosed degenerative brain disease which requires he be kept on a ventilator. His parents have sought to continue treatment, but again, hospital personnel, this time at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, are insisting that life support be removed.
Evans’ parents have requested a second opinion, which a hospital in Milan has agreed to provide, and have asked that Alfie be transferred to Bambino Gesù Hospital in Rome. Alder Hey has refused to accept the options provided.
Earlier this month, Pope Francis tweeted his support for Alfie Evans and his family, saying, “It is my sincere hope that everything necessary may be done to continue compassionately accompanying little Alfie Evans, and that the deep suffering of his parents may be heard.”
Appeals rejected by courts
The parents of both Evans and Lambert have sought legal relief, but have been constantly rebuffed by the courts. Barring further developments, both patients could lose their lives in coming days.
Great respect for life
In his remarks on Sunday, Pope Francis said he is praying for both Lambert and “the little Alfie Evans,” and for others in similar situations. “They are delicate, very sorrowful, and complex situations,” he said. “Let us pray that every sick person might always be respected in their dignity, and cared for in a manner adapted to their condition, with the concordant input of their families and loved ones, of the doctors, and of other health care workers, with great respect for life.”