Pope Francis expressed his closeness to Vincent Lambert’s mother, after the 42-year-old Frenchman’s death on July 11, 2019, at the University Hospital Centre (CHU) of Reims. The feeding and hydration of this patient, at the heart of a judiciary battle since 2008, was interrupted on July 3.
The Holy Father contacted his mother, Viviane Lambert by phone, confirmed the Director ad interim of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, to “Vatican News. In an interview on Lifesitenews, the latter confirmed having received a “touching” and “personal” message” of the Pope on her mobile, in Italian, through the intermediary of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin.
Tetraplegic, in a minimally conscious state, called “pauci-relationnel,” after a road accident, Vincent Lambert was in the spotlight for years. In April of 2013, the medical team in charge of his case decided to cease feeding and hydrating him, a decision that was invalidated by a court, as certain members of the family hadn’t been consulted. Again in August 2018, the CHU of Reims decided to suspend his feeding and hydration, a decision that was opposed by Vincent’s parents. At the end of April 2019, the Council of State validated the interruption of care, a verdict that was annulled by the Court of Appeal, but later confirmed by the Court of Cassation.
The Pope expressed himself several times on his affair. On the day of Vincent’s death, he published a Tweet, saying: “May God the Father receive Vincent Lambert in His arms. Let us not build a civilization that does away with persons whose lives we consider no longer worthy to be lived: each life has value, always. The day before, without naming him, the Pope said: “let us pray for the abandoned sick that are left to die. A society is human if it protects life, each life, from its beginning to its natural end, without choosing if it’s worthy or not living. May doctors serve life; may they not do away with it.”
The previous year, Vincent Lambert was at the heart of two appeals of the Pope — along with little British Alfie Evans — at the Regina Coeli of April 15, 2018: “Let us pray that every patient is always respected in his dignity and cared for in a manner adapted to his state, with the concordant contribution of members of the family, of doctors and of other health agents.” And, at the General Audience of April 18, 2018, he said: “I would like to say again and strongly confirm that the only Master of life, of its beginning until its natural end, is God! And our duty, our duty is to do all to protect life.”