Pope Francis urged people to pray Wednesday for Vincent Lambert, a disabled man who is slowly being starved to death in France after doctors removed his food and water.
ANSA reports the pope called for prayers for Lambert and his family, and others who also are being abandoned to die.
“Let us pray for the sick who are abandoned and left to die,” Pope Francis wrote on Twitter. “A society is humane if it safeguards life, every life, from the beginning to its natural end, without choosing who is worthy of living or not. May doctors serve life and not take it away.”
On Sunday, doctors removed the water and feeding tubes from the 42-year-old man after a lengthy court battle over his medical care, Agence France-Presse reports. He is expected to die slowly of starvation within the next few days.
His father, Pierre Lambert, 90, said what is being done to his son is nothing less than “murder in disguise, it’s euthanasia.” He and his wife said they are resigned to their son’s death, having exhausted all legal options to protect him.
Faith Wire reports the Lamberts asked for continued prayers for their son in his final days.
“Dear friends who have supported us so much throughout these 6 years, this time, it’s over,” they said in a statement on Facebook. “Vincent’s death is now inevitable.”
“There is nothing more to do if not pray and accompany our dear Vincent, in dignity and contemplation,” they continued.
A prayer vigil for Vincent is planned for Wednesday in Paris, according to the report.
His parents and two of his siblings fought a long legal battle against Vincent’s wife, several other siblings and doctors who believe it is time for him to die. Vincent has been in the hospital since 2008, when he became quadriplegic and suffered severe brain damage from a vehicle accident.
Doctors said Vincent, a former nurse, can breathe on his own, sleep, wake up and respond to external stimuli.
On June 28, the French high court ruled in favor of the doctors removing his life support, according to the report.
Christophe Foltzenlogel, a legal expert with the European Center for Law and Justice, said Vincent was not dying and may have improved with specialized care.
In a collective opinion page on April 18, 70 “doctors and professionals specialized in the care of persons with cerebral palsy in a vegetative or pauci-relational state” said about Vincent Lambert that “it is obvious that he is not at the end of life”. The average length of stay in a palliative care unit in France is 16 days. Vincent has been living in a palliative care unit for 10 years. This does shows that he is not at the end of his life.
He said Vincent’s parents asked to care for him in their home or be transferred to a facility that specializes in his specific needs. However, both requests were refused.
The case has drawn the attention of international human rights advocates. Many see similarities to the fight over the life of Terri Schiavo, an American woman who died by slowly being starved to death after her life support was removed based on her husband’s wishes. Schiavo’s family also lost a long legal battle to provide medical care to their daughter.