Catholic World News News Feature
Vatican rebuts euthanasia charge on John Paul II September 27, 2007
Vatican officials have revealed that a sensational argument posed by an Italian doctor, who claims that Pope John Paul II was a victim of euthanasia, is based on a factual error.
Dr. Lina Pavanelli drew notice earlier this month by charging that according to the standards set by the Catholic Church, doctors should have installed a nasal-gastric feeding tube to provide the Polish Pontiff with nourishment in the last days before his death. Although her diagnosis was based mostly on conjecture-- Pavanelli had never examined the Pope, nor did she have access to his medical records-- her argument in an Italian magazine was reproduced in dozens of other publications including Time magazine.
The personal physician to the late Pope, Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, angrily denied that he had withheld treatment in order to hasten the Pontiff's death; "his treatment was never interrupted," he told reporters.
Now Vatican officials have gone further, disclosing that the late Pope was in fact given a feeding tube well before his death. The officials said that while the insertion of the feeding tube was not announced to the public until March 30, 2005-- two days before the death of John Paul II-- in fact it had been in place for some time before that announcement.
Pavanelli had based her argument on the assumption that Pope John Paul was unable to swallow enough food to maintain his strength in his final illness. Dr. Buzzonetti-- who, unlike his critic, was familiar with the medical issues involved in the Pope's treatment-- says that the tube was inserted as soon as the Pope became unable to eat for himself.