18 July 2019, The Tablet

Topic of the week: Vincent Lambert called to a loving God


I am shocked by the reaction of many Catholics to end-of-life cases such as that of Vincent Lambert.

For those of us who believe in eternal life, the prospect of being gathered up into the embrace of God at death is not something to be shunned and fought against at any cost, as though we thought death was the ultimate disaster. When our loving God is holding out a tender embrace and calling one of our brothers or sisters to heaven, who are we to deny the call and insist on artificial measures to force a person to stay for years or decades in this vale of tears?

Who are these efforts intended to benefit? Certainly not the patient, but perhaps relatives who cannot bear to let go. Also, I suspect that some Catholics regard a distinct position on this issue as a badge of tribal loyalty, to enable them to claim superior morals to the non-Catholic world.

Pope Francis said recently: “A society is human if it protects life, every life, from its beginning to its natural end.” Lambert’s life came to a natural end when extreme artificial measures were discontinued. After his death Pope Francis said: “May God the Father welcome Vincent Lambert in his arms.” Amen to that, and may we believe it instead of doubting.

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