Jewish Journal


September 27, 2007

Was Pope John Paul II allowed to die?


An Italian doctor has the Vatican defending that Pope John Paul II was not allowed to kill himself by denying necessary medical treatment, which in his case was the administration of a feeding tube. The pope, who died in April 2005 after a long bought with Parkinson’s, didn’t receive a tube until three days before his death.

The physician leveling the mercy killing allegation, Dr. Lina Pavanelli, heads the intensive care medical school at Italy’s University of Ferrara.

“The doctors had done something, the doctors didn’t inform the pope completely, or the pope decided,” Pavanelli told CBS News. “These are the three conclusions that I reached.”

If true, such an action would violate the Catholic Church’s own doctrine. During the Terri Schiavo drama the following winter, a Vatican bishop said: “The administration of food and water even by artificial means is, in principle, an ordinary and proportionate means of preserving life.”

The problem is Pavanelli reached her conclusion with no more information than I had: Watching the pope’s deterioration on TV. I’m probably being a cynic, but it sounds like a certain doctor was looking for some attention.

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