September 14, 2007

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

The following, in it's entirety, is a copyrighted transcript of the Vatican Information Service.

SUMMARY:


RESPONSES CONCERNING ARTIFICIAL ALIMENTATION

VATICAN CITY, SEP 14, 2007 (VIS) - Made public today was a response from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to certain questions raised by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops concerning artificial nutrition and hydration. The replies were approved by the Holy Father during an audience granted to Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the congregation. The text of the responses has been published in its Latin original and in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Polish and Portuguese.

   "First question: Is the administration of food and water (whether by natural or artificial means) to a patient in a 'vegetative state' morally obligatory except when they cannot be assimilated by the patient's body or cannot be administered to the patient without causing significant physical discomfort?

   "Response: Yes. The administration of food and water even by artificial means is, in principle, an ordinary and proportionate means of preserving life. It is therefore obligatory to the extent to which, and for as long as, it is shown to accomplish its proper finality, which is the hydration and nourishment of the patient. In this way suffering and death by starvation and dehydration are prevented.

   "Second question: When nutrition and hydration are being supplied by artificial means to a patient in a 'permanent vegetative state,' may they be discontinued when competent physicians judge with moral certainty that the patient will never recover consciousness?

   "Response: No. A patient in a 'permanent vegetative state' is a person with fundamental human dignity and must, therefore, receive ordinary and proportionate care which includes, in principle, the administration of water and food even by artificial means."

   An English-language note accompanying the responses indicates that: "When stating that the administration of food and water is morally obligatory 'in principle,' the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith does not exclude the possibility that, in very remote places or in situations of extreme poverty, the artificial provision of food and water may be physically impossible, and then 'ad impossibilia nemo tenetur.' However, the obligation to offer the minimal treatments that are available remains in place, as well as that of obtaining, if possible, the means necessary for an adequate support of life. Nor is the possibility excluded that, due to emerging complications, a patient may be unable to assimilate food and liquids, so that their provision becomes altogether useless. Finally, the possibility is not absolutely excluded that, in some rare cases, artificial nourishment and hydration may be excessively burdensome for the patient or may cause significant physical discomfort, for example resulting from complications in the use of the means employed.

   "These exceptional cases, however, take nothing away from the general ethical criterion, according to which the provision of water and food, even by artificial means, always represents a 'natural means' for preserving life, and is not a 'therapeutic treatment.' Its use should therefore be considered 'ordinary and proportionate,' even when the 'vegetative state' is prolonged."

 

BENEDICT XVI RECEIVES THE PRESIDENT OF SUDAN

 VATICAN CITY, SEP 14, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office published the following communique late this morning:

   "This morning, Omar Hassan Ahmed El-Bashir, president of the Republic of Sudan, was received in audience by the Holy Father Benedict XVI in his summer residence at Castelgandolfo. The president subsequently went on to meet Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States and, until last year, apostolic nuncio in Khartoum.

   "Discussions focussed on the country's political and religious situation, with particular reference to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and to the situation in Darfur. On this matter, very positive views were expressed concerning fresh peace negotiations for Darfur, due to be held on October 27 in Libya. It is the Holy See's heartfelt hope that these negotiations prove successful in order to put an end to the suffering and insecurity of those peoples, ensuring them the humanitarian assistance to which they have the right, and initiating development projects. Attention also turned to the regional aspects of the crisis.

   "Other subjects of joint interest were considered, such as the defense of life and of the family, the respect and promotion of human rights including the fundamental right of religious freedom, the importance of inter-religious dialogue and of collaboration between believers in all religions - in particular Christians and Muslims - for the promotion of peace and the common good. In this context, the positive role of the Catholic Church and her institutions in Sudanese society was reiterated, especially in the field of education."

 

AUDIENCES

 VATICAN CITY, SEP 14, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

  - His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon.

  - Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

  - Cardinal James Francis Stafford, penitentiary major of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

 VATICAN CITY, SEP 14, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Seamus Freeman S.A.C., pastor of the Church of San Vincenzo Pallotti at Pietralata in Rome, as bishop of Ossory (area 1,972, population 88,442, Catholics 84,053, priests 96, religious 299), Ireland. The bishop-elect was born in Mullinahone, Ireland in 1944 and ordained a priest in 1971. He succeeds Bishop Laurence Forristal, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

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