Vatican officials have strongly denied claims by an Italian doctor that John Paul II hastened his own death by “refusing” to accept nourishment through a feeding tube.
In an article Dr. Lina Pavanelli questioned the reasons for which John Paul II received nourishment from a feeding tube “only” starting on March 30, 2005, three days before his death. Pavanelli said the Pope clearly needed this treatment earlier. She claimed the Pope chose not to receive adequate nourishment in order to weaken himself and die in a sort of “assisted suicide.”
Vatican officials told the Associated Press that the Pope did in fact use a feeding tube before March 30 but that it was not made known officially until that day. They pointed out Pavanelli has not had access to the Pope’s medical records and that her accusations are based merely on media reports.
Father Thomas Williams told CBS News that euthanasia “is the intentional acceleration of the death of a person. And, I think, to allege that they intentionally accelerated Pope John Paul's death is really farfetched. I have spoken with a number of doctors, both ... in Italy and in the United States about this," Williams continued, "and there's no consensus there. Dr. Pavanelli is definitely in the minority in saying the tube should have been inserted earlier. In fact, the tube is only put in when the patient is no longer able to ingest food and liquid by his or herself. And the pope was able to do that until shortly before his death."
"Everybody loves a conspiracy theory, especially when it relates to the Catholic Church. I remember back in 1978, when Pope Paul VI died, everyone started putting forth theories that he was poisoned or killed in some way. The same thing happened after the death of John Paul I, so I'm not really surprised," Father Williams said.
"There has been an immediate statement by the pope's personal doctor ... who was there at the pope's bedside up to the point of his death,” Father Williams pointed out. “He said these allegations are simply false."