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Joint Statement of Religious Leaders of Reims Regarding Vincent Lambert

‘To Become Dependent on Others Doesn’t Mean to Lose One’s Dignity’

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Mr. Vincent Lambert is dead. We leaders of different religions in the city of Reims, pray for our fellow- citizen. We have done so for years, with many of our compatriots profoundly affected by his fate. We recommend him to the living and merciful God, to Him who calls human beings from death to life. We pray for Mr. Lambert’s wife and the daughter, for his parents, his brothers, and sisters, for all his own. May they find consolation and hope beyond their grief. We express to them our fraternal compassion. We think intensely on this day of those that had Mr. Lambert’s care: the doctors and hospital teams of Reims, and also the lawyers and the magistrates who had the responsibility to shed light on Mr. Lambert’s situation.
Mr. Lambert’s situation was singular. Therefore, the decision taken about him cannot be transposed as such to apparently analogous cases. In view of the debates that took place, we think it’s useful, in light of our faith in God who creates and gives life, to recall the following points:

  1. We acknowledge without reservation that it belongs to the dignity of every human being to renounce a treatment judged to be useless, disproportionate or that risks causing a supplementary state of suffering, as long as such a decision does not put in danger the life of any other;
  1. We believe that it is possible for human beings to support each other, to help each other, to accompany each other in the most painful moments of life so that no citizen is tempted to exact of society that it cause his/her death;
  1. We would like to remind our citizens that to become dependent on others for care or for acts of ordinary life doesn’t mean to lose one’s dignity; we want to work to contribute to arouse the necessary devotion, generosity, and solidarity with dependent persons regardless of the reason they are so, and with their dear ones, who bear the responsibility, those that are called today “the carers”;
  1. We want to thank all those that contributed to the reflection on the situation of the end of life and on the singular situation of persons in a minimally conscious state, who are not at all included in the category of sick persons or that of handicapped persons. Medical and philosophical researches are without a doubt still necessary to accompany them in the best way. A reflection on the practice of reanimation seems to us equally necessary. It seems to us important to pursue prudent and in-depth debates on these medical and ethical questions.
  1. We express our confidence in the doctors of our country. Our collective confidence in their scientific and human capacities is necessary so they can continue to take the best and wisest medical decisions when dialoguing in truth with persons at the end of life or the dear ones of persons that have become incapable of communicating;
  1. Believing in eternal life, we affirm that human life is much more than corporal life, however, it is played out in the corporal condition. We express our profound union with all those that surround their dear ones in trial with delicacy, with generosity, without expecting a return, rejoicing in their corporal presence. We reiterate our gratitude to the medical personnel and carers of our hospitals.

Our country has made an effort up to now to find the right way to accompany in the best way, in the context of the high technology in which we live, persons at the end of life and those that are partially or totally deprived of capacities of communication.
We hope as well that our country will always develop more medical care capable of integrating the therapeutic progress, palliative cares, a veritable relational availability of carers and a collaboration of carers and volunteers, as well as social care capable of integrating the excluded and the neglected, in order to guarantee to all a common life in solidarity and fraternity.
 Rabbi Amar, of Reims
Aomar Bendaoud, Imam of the Great Mosque of Reims
Pastor Xavier Langlois, of the United Protestant Church of France at Reims
Pastor Pascal Geoffroy, of the United Protestant Church of France at Reims
+ Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, Archbishop of Reims
+ Bruno Feillet, Auxiliary Bishop of Reims
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester

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