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Vincent Lambert. Magnin (French Bishops): “The greatness of a human life extends far beyond its conditions”

Recollection and prayer, along with the dream of family reconciliation. Disappointment for the instrumental use of this case and for the difficulties the voice of the Church is confronted with in society. The analysis of the Secretary General of the French Bishops’ Conference a few hours after the death of Vincent Lambert

Recollection and prayer, learning the lesson of this tragedy to prevent it from happening again. But also hope in a path of family reconciliation, however long and challenging it may be, because “the life of Vincent Lambert deserves it”, declared Fr. Thierry Magnin, new Secretary General of the French Bishops’ Conference, in an interview to French Catholic daily “La Croix”, published on the bishops’ website, commenting on the death of Vincent Lambert.

Fr Magnin conveyed “his deep sorrow” and call for recollection at the news of Vincent’s death. Recollection “before the death of a man left severely disabled after a terrible road accident”  and before

“the greatness of a human life regardless of its conditions,

a greatness that extends far beyond whichever argument in favour or against the doctors and judges’ decision to end it.” Sadness, “because the tragic accident is intensified by a more serious tragedy: the laceration of a family, exacerbated by a seemingly hopeless legal battle.”

The thoughts of the Secretary of the French Bishops go to Vincent Lambert’s parents “who gave birth to their son and stood up for him until the end”, and to his wife who “made a decision motivated by good intentions. However – he pointed out – some of the arguments put forward by those who are part of ‘his clan’ seriously worry me. The whole family has the right to recollection, respect and peace. His greatest regret, Magnin told La Croix, is that

“The instrumental use of the family’s laceration has perpetuated the confusion whereby the case of Vincent Lambert was treated as that of a dying person”

But he wasn’t at the end of his life, as is the case “of many people who are living in a so-called ‘vegetative state’, cared for in specialized clinics that don’t administer palliative treatments.” In this case, underlined the Bishops’ Secretary,

It was not a question of therapeutic obstinacy, so often referred to,

unless tube feeding is considered disproportionate treatment.”

Why was the voice of the Church unheard? The Bishops’ Secretary recalled that “several personalities – lay people, religious, priests, bishops – condemned in clear words” the final court decision after many unexpected turns, underlining, in particular, “the firm position of the archbishop of Reims calling for the protection of the whole of human life. But today – he remarked – many people in our French society find it hard to listen to the words of the Catholic Church on such matters.”

The Church is “automatically labelled ‘bio-conservative’ because she promotes the inalienable dignity of every human being.  

This reaction – Magnini said – somewhat disqualifies a priori the message, failing to understand it in its depth.”
The Secretary of the French Bishops thus called for recollection and prayer. Later, at the right time, it will be necessary to draw “the necessary lesson from this tragedy so as to prevent it from happening again.” But today, he concluded, “I dare to express here a crazy dream that would be a true victory of life, stronger than any death: that this recollection may open people’s hearts to

a prospective path of family reconciliation, however long and difficult it may be. The life of Vincent Lambert is worthy of it!”.

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