The Papal Allocution on Caring for Persons in a "Vegetative State"

Barry, Robert
September 2004
Issues in Law & Medicine;Fall2004, Vol. 20 Issue 2, p155
Academic Journal
On March 20, 2004, Pope John Paul II issued a statement to the International Conference on "Life Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific and Ethical Dilemmas" on the provision of food and water to patients in a "vegetative state." The purpose of this allocution was to promote and protect the dignity of patients, even when they are in a seriously ill and disabled state. To promote the dignity of these patients, the Pope explicitly stated that "quality of life judgments" were not to be applied to the administration of nutrition and fluids. The Holy Father made it clear that he was avoiding any position that could be construed as tolerating, permitting, or promoting euthanasia by omission. His statement sought to prevent Catholics and Catholic health care facilities from becoming involved in euthanasia by omission that has become a fast-growing threat.


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