Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Was John Paul II Euthanized?

Of all the things I have heard about John Paul II since his death, I think this is one of the stupidest. I can' t believe it is gaining any media attention, but people always tend to grab onto sensational headlines, even if (or I should say, especially if) there is very little substance to them. I am referring to the assertion by Dr. Lina Pavanelli that the late John Paul II was actually killed by means of euthanasia, a fact which she says has subsequently been covered up by the Vatican (here we go again with the tired old "the Vatican's covering it up" line). Let's look at her claims in detail.

In a TIME magazine article dated Sept. 21st 2007, Dr. Pavanelli asserts that she came to the conclusion that the Pope was actually euthanized. Okay, so where does she draw this conclusion from? Well, from two main places. According to the TIME article, "She bases this conclusion on her medical expertise and her own observations of the ailing pontiff on television." Her own medical expertise? I suppose that translates to, "Hey, see that Ph.D. after my name? I know what I'm talking about!" What about this second source on which she bases her conclusion: "her own observations of the ailing pontiff on television." Please. So you can tell from watching JPII sick on TV whether he is being euthanized or not? If you are going to make such claims, please stop wasting out time and produce some real evidence.

And just what is the nature of this euthanasia? Pay attention to this: for Dr. Pavanelli, she says that the fact that John Paul II did not receive a feeding tube until a few days before his death may have "accelerated" it and thus constituted euthanasia. Notice what she said; it was not, as in the Schiavo case, that an existing feeding tube was removed, but rather that a feeding tube was not inserted until (in her opinion) it was too late. So now failure to insert a feeding tube until its too late is euthanasia apparently.

What does the pope's personal physician say? Dr. Renato Buzzonetti vehemently denies that anything close to euthanasia took place. A nasal feeding tube was ingested only three days before the pontiff died because, according to Buzzonetti, until that time the pope was still able to ingest food. If he could still ingest food, of course they wouldn't put a feeding tube in him! It only makes sense that they would insert the tube only after he couldn't eat anymore, which in his case happened to be three days before death. Failure to insert a tube until a person can no longer eat hardly constitutes euthanasia.

Dr. Pavanelli's article with her bold assertions originally appeared in the Italian bi-monthly journal Micromega. Oh, by the way, Micromega is also quasi-scientific journal that is against the Vatican's stance on bioethical issues, so I would hardly call Dr. Pavanelli's assertions unbiased. This is clearly a highly publicized attempt on the part of the anti-Church pro-euthanasia crowd to make the Church look stupid and give in on euthanasia. After all, if the pope did it, why can't everybody else? The implication, of course, is that the Pope is either a hypocrite or a coward for denouncing something and then succumbing to it himself.

It is appalling that this claim is receiving any attention at all. Fortunately, it is a claim without substance and ranks alongside, for example, the claims of the Raelians a few years back that they had cloned a human baby but refused to offer any proof.

Click here for the TIME article with Dr. Pavanelli's stupid comments.

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