by Steven Ertelt
August 16, 2004
Lourdes, France (LifeNews.com) — Despite his failing health and suffering from complications of Parkinson’s disease, Pope John Paul II spoke to more than 300,000 people over the weekend at a Mass in France. He told them to continue to oppose practices such as abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research that destroy human life.
"I appeal urgently to all of you, dear brothers and sisters, to do everything in your power to ensure that life, each and every life, will be respected from conception to its natural end," the Pope said. Life is a sacred gift, and no one can presume to be its master."
The Pope has repeatedly spokes out against abortion and euthanasia, but his comments also applied to human cloning and embryonic stem cell research.
They were delivered just days after British officials gave university researchers the go-ahead to clone unborn children with the express purpose of killing them for their stem cells.
Expanding on the Catholic Church’s pro-life policies on assisted suicide and euthanasia, the Pope in March said that removing the feeding tube of a disabled patient is immoral and amounts to "euthanasia by omission."
Pope John Paul II also said that the lexicon used to describe such patients — as being in a "vegetative state" was degrading and inhuman.
That’s the kind of language that has been condemned by supporters of Terri Schiavo and doctors who say she is not in a state of PVS, but is disabled and able to breathe on her own without artificial respiration.
"A man, even if seriously sick or prevented in the exercise of its higher functions, is and will be always a man … [he] will never become a ‘vegetable’ or an ‘animal,’" the Pope said. "The intrinsic value and personal dignity of every human being does not change depending on their circumstances."
Providing food and water to such patients should be a natural thing to do and "morally obligatory," but not considered extraordinary measures, the Pope added.
"In particular, I want to emphasize that the administration of water and food . . . always represents a natural means of preservation of life, not a medical treatment."