Bishop John Wilson Defends Life with Clarity of Teaching

Torch of The Faith News on Thursday 02 August 2018 - 17:04:17 | by admin

The UK was shaken again on Monday when the BBC reported that the Supreme Court has now ruled that legal permission from the Court of Protection will no longer be needed to withdraw treatment from patients in a permanent vegetative state, whenever doctors and families are in agreement that withdrawal of treatment is considered to be in the ''best interests'' of the patient.

This is very grave indeed, especially because the provision of nourishment and fluids are being presented as though these were merely aspects of ''treatment''. In reality, as we have said here a number of times, the feeding and hydrating of a given patient are basic essentials, and are thus ethically prior to any medical treatment given.

In addition, LifeSiteNews did well to point out that patients with permanent vegetative state (PVS) and minimally conscious state (MCS), have sometimes been known to recover awareness, in some cases several months or even years, after the Court of Protection had overturned doctors' decisions to withdraw support.

Many years ago, when my late friend Fr. Mike Williams was still a seminarian, he telephoned me to share some splendid news that an orthodox and balanced priest had miraculously joined the seminary staff and was giving sound teaching in his moral theology classes. We both regarded this as very good news indeed. The priest concerned was Fr. John Wilson of the Diocese of Leeds; I met him a couple of times during Mike's time of priestly formation and was encouraged by his priestly comportment and words. Several years later, I gave a presentation on catechesis in the Leeds Diocese and again met Fr. Wilson during the day. Whilst preparing for that presentation, I had heartily agreed with the estimation of one British theologian who had ventured to me that they thought Fr. Wilson was a priest who was ''on the side of the Angels''. That is why, although you'd naturally worry for any good guy who was made a bishop these days, I was fundamentally glad to hear that he had been made an auxiliary bishop of Westminster in 2016. I was also heartened to read, back in early May this year, that he had encouraged British pro-lifers by taking part, in common with Scotland's Bishop John Keenan, in the UK March for Life through the streets of London.

It is most heartening to see that, in the light of this latest troubling news about ''end of life'' care, Bishop Wilson has again taken the opportunity to impart some clear and concise ethical teaching in the defence of life.

Affirming that provision of nutrition and hydration are not merely treatment, according to Crux News, Bishop Wilson also noted: ''They do not cure anything. In whatever way they are delivered, food and water for a person in a persistent vegetative state fulfil the same purpose as for any other person. They keep them alive as part of their basic care. They prevent death by malnutrition and dehydration.''

Importantly, he also pointed out that people suffering persistent vegetative state may have an altered state of consciousness, but that this does not necessarily mean that they are dying.

Again, noting that people suffering in a permanent vegetative state are some of the most vulnerable in our society, Bishop Wilson concluded: ''It is not an act of compassion to remove their food and drink in order to cause their death. Equally, it cannot be in a patient's best interests, whatever their level of consciousness, to have their life intentionally ended. Our care for those in such situations is the test of our common humanity and our solidarity with some of the most fragile of our brothers and sisters.''

Please keep Bishop John Wilson in your prayers. Like many other UK Catholics, I am mighty glad that he has spoken out so clearly and succinctly on this vitally important matter.

After all, every one of us is in danger now...

St. Joseph, Patron of a Happy and Holy Death - pray for us!     

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