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FEATURE: ‘Even If Nothing Can Be Done Medically, One Can Stay’ – CDF Prefect, Cardinal Ladaria Tells ZENIT

As New Pope-Approved Letter Condemns Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide, & Calls Always for Care & Closeness, Prelate Warns Against Others Stating Otherwise

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Even if nothing further can be done medically for someone, Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer says that is no reason to not continue to care for them.

This is what the Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, expressed to ZENIT during the press conference on the CDF’s new letter «Samaritanus bonus: on the care of persons in the critical and terminal phases of life,» held with accredited journalists in the Holy See Press Office today, Sept. 22, 2020.

The new letter, approved by Pope Francis on June 25, 2020, who called for it to be published, condemns euthanasia and assisted suicide, and calls for protecting and preserving life, regardless of how fragile or compromised it may seem.

«Even if someone cannot  be ‘cured’ medically, they ought to always be cared for,» until the end, he underscored.

Speaking along with Cardinal Ladaria, were Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, secretary of the same Congregation; Professor Gabriella Gambino, under-secretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life; and Professor Adriano Pessina, member of the Directorate of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Addressing Cardinal Ladaria, ZENIT English acknowledged that the document was very concrete and timely, inquiring as to how the Vatican wishes for it to reach society as a whole.

«This hope [that the letter reaches the international community and society at large] is always there, because if it were not, the letter would not have been written,» the CDF Prefect said.

«We think, and believe the Holy Father thinks, having given the authorization to publish this letter,» he said, «that deep in every person, there is this deep desire for closeness of ‘the other,’ and when one forgets this, it means that some part of humanity goes away. No?»

«For this to arrive at the conscience of everyone,» Cardinal Ladaria said, «will of course depend on us and on all Catholics worldwide, especially those involved in healthcare, of the people who have the most direct contact with the ill.» Personally, he explained, he believes this hope is there «because there is a hope in the goodness of man, and that this is found in each one of us.»

The Jesuit Cardinal warned against when at times someone is unconscious and others try to pressure one into making life or death decisions. «They tempt us, look this is very serious, they may say.»

In this sense, he underscored, it is even more imperative, that we remain close to humanity and those suffering.

«And for me it is very important, as all my fellow colleagues here highlighted and spoke a lot about, namely: The scene of the Cross»

«In many moments, one cannot do anything from the practical point of view, but one can stay,» he underscored.

Therefore, he elaborated, one thing is the possibility to heal and another thing is to care, «caring which could be from a medical point of view, but also from spiritual point of view, psychological point of view, or from the point of view of just being close.»

Therefore this hope that the letter’s message circulates, he acknowledged, exists.

How its diffusion coming to fruition will happen, «I am not a prophet,» he said smiling.

As usual, the Press Office took each masked journalist’s temperature upon entry, gave sanitizer, and had set channels to enter and leave the hall. Vatican-accredited press (and Press Office personnel) needed to wear masks and sit in designated, socially distant seats.


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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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