By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis and the Holy See have expressed grief over the death of Vincent Lambert, the French quadriplegic who has been in a vegetative state for a decade.
The 42-year old passed away Thursday morning at the Sebastopol Hospital in Reims, after medics on July 2 switched off food and water systems that kept him alive since a motorcycle accident in 2008.
“May God the Father welcome Vincent Lambert in His arms,” Pope Francis tweeted. “Let us not build a civilization that discards persons whose lives we no longer consider to be worthy of living: every life is valuable, always,” the Holy Father added.
"We received with grief the news of the death of Vincent Lambert,” said the ‘ad interim’ Director of the Holy See Press office, Alessandro Gisotti, in a brief statement. “We pray that the Lord receive him into His house and express our closeness to his loved ones and all who, until the last moment, have committed themselves to assist him with love and dedication,” Gisotti wrote.
“Let us remember and reaffirm,” he said, “what the Holy Father said, intervening on this painful event: God is the only master of life from the beginning to its natural end and it is our duty to guard it always and not to give in to the culture of waste.”
Lambert's wife and some of his siblings wanted care to be withdrawn, but his Catholic parents, backed by other relatives, launched a series of legal bids to force doctors to keep him alive.
Doctors ultimately acted in accordance with a final ruling by the Cour de Cassation, France's supreme court.
Pope Francis has made various appeals for human life until its natural end, including on Lambert’s case.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Holy Father tweeted: “We pray for the sick who are abandoned and left to die. A society is human if it protects life, every life, from its beginning to its natural end, without choosing who is worthy to live or who is not. Doctors should serve life, not take it away."
The President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, posted a tweet following Lambert’s death. He said that he and the Academy were praying for the family of Lambert, the doctors and all those involved in the case. “The death of Vincent Lambert and its history are a defeat for our humanity,” he added.