Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Terri Schindler Foundation on USCCB

The Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation reports (18 November 2009) that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, by overwhelmingly approving a revision to the directives that guide Catholic health care facilities on the moral responsibility to feed and hydrate those persons labelled to be in a ‘vegetative’ state, ‘has affirmed the Catholic Church’s two thousand year old teaching that all human life is sacred and deserving of our care, no matter its condition. … Catholic health care directives were written long before Pope John Paul II’s March 2004 address on “Life-Sustaining Treatments and the Vegetative State”. In this 2004 address, Pope John Paul II made clear that even persons severely injured, compromised or otherwise limited in his or her abilities, still retain their “fundamental human dignity and must, therefore, receive ordinary and proportionate care.” The Pope also stated that, “the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act.”’

The recent reports about the Belgian man who appeared to be in a ‘vegetative state’ for 23 years, but who has now been proven to have been aware of his surroundings during that time, should give us all – and particularly medical and legal personnel – cause to think very seriously on these matters.