EUTHANASIA

A man named P. Welby in Italy sith muscular dystrophy asked to be disconnected from a respirator that had kept him alive for nine years.   Church authorities refused him a religious funeral, because said Cardinal Ruini, “it would have legitimized behavior contrary to the rules of the church.”  On the other hand, Cardinal Martini (the Jesuit followed Benedict iin the conclave) said that more pastoral attention must be paid to terminal patients  when they ask with a clear mind.  68 per cent of Italians support the right to refuselife-sustaining medical treatment.

7 Comments »

  1. […] Neil McKenty Weblog […]

  2. 2
    Paul Geraghty Says:

    Paul Geraghy Says:
    January 23rd, 2007 at 10:31 pm
    Here is my comment on the right page!!
    I thank God for people with the moral and pastoral courage of Cardinal Martini. The issues at stake are complex and vey sensitive. What people never seem to question is the extreme lengths we often go to to prolong life at any cost. Surely it is at least legitimate to ask the question whether that is always in acord with God’s will. Whatever one’s opinion about the morality of withdrawing life support or the merits of this paricular case it seem to me once agan that the church has acted in a deeply unpastoral way to protect the “sanctity” of its moral law. That in itself is a deeply immoral act.

  3. 3
    Cate McB Says:

    I agree with Paul & I think that Cardinal Ruini needs a course in the long-established tradition of Catholic healthcare ethics in which we find the ancient idea that the use of extraordinary means (e.g., a ventilator) is never obligatory for anyone. If I had a current copy of the Canadian Catholic Healthcare Ethics Guide put out by the Can. Catholic Healthcare Association in collaboration with the CCCB & Catholic ethicists across the country, I could quote you chapter and verse on this issue. Maybe someone has a copy & they could give us the relevant quote. Meanwhile, Ruini needs to get with the program. Cate McBurney

  4. 4
    Barbara Says:

    I am not in any way defending Ruini because his position does indeed seem to violate traditional Catholic ethics on this issue. However, I think he got his nose out of joint because Welby, a well-known cultural figure, made the public aware that he intended to commit what he termed euthanasia by these means. It is that scandal thing again that so disturbs the hierarchs. And all us ignorant slobs in the pews.

  5. 5
    Cate McB Says:

    Even if it is the possibility of scandal that got Ruini’s knickers is a twist, he should do his job and educate Welby about the distinction long held within Catholic ethics between euthanasia and the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment — in this case — a ventilator. Neither euthanasia, nor suicide is at issue here because presumably, this patient would have died some time ago because his underlying disease — muscular dystrophy — took away his ability to breathe without mechanical ventilation. In this case and others like it, mechanical ventilation is extraordinary means which the patient is not obliged to use, particularly in the long run where nasty side effects like ventilator-induced pneumonia can merely prolong the person’s suffering. So in summary, I think Ruini should get over the personal and corporate affront of possible “scandal”, rise to the educational possibilities presented by this situation to him as a teacher, and direct his compassion to the suffering person in the bed. Muscular dystrophy is no picnic and neither is mechanical ventilation, particularly if you are awake enough to experience it. Perhaps we should intubate and mechanically ventilate both Ruini and Welby and see how they like it. Cate McB

  6. 6
    Cate McB Says:

    Sorry, I forgot that the man in the bed was named Welby, 60 yr. old Piergiorgio Welby to be exact. I’m reading from a Dec. 18th article in the Daily Telegraph that when Welby took his request for ventilator withdrawal to Italy’s courts, “a Rome judge said that while Mr. Welby had a right to have the respirator removed, that right was not ‘concretely safeguarded’ by Italian law.” WOW!!! — the message in that for me is that I don’t want to be in Italy if I ever need a ventilator. And on the teaching front, Cardinal Ruini certainly has his work cut out for him, should he ever rise to that challenge. He needs to educate both the public at large and the Italian court system. Poor Welby was fighting for a right that patients and substitute decision makers in my ICU exercise pretty much every day.
    Cate McB.

  7. 7
    Alien Says:

    When and why, did someone else ever know what is better for yourself. Rule 1, you are never better served than by yourself. I told my mother once, when I can’t wipe my arse by myself, I’m outta here, ha. xox


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