Once again Commonweal is trying to have it both ways. The recent statement by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) concerning the morality of removing feeding tubes from patients in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) is being attacked for not fitting the traditional criteria in their opinion. Yes now Commonweal want to appeal to tradition and this time their can be no doctrinal development. Someone how they are able to take in developments by Pope John Paul II on the death penalty, but can’t take in his view on artificial nutrition.
But mainly their whole argument is false in saying that "appears to contradict the traditional criteria used to determine whether a particular medical treatment is ordinary and proportionate and therefore obligatory, or extraordinary and disproportionate and therefore optional." The statement by the CDF does no such thing. The CDF is not contradicting or eliminating these terms, they are simply saying that artificial nutrition and hydration for those diagnosed as PVS should can not be denied.
Somehow also progressives who can get totally behind moral relativity can’t seem to understand that due to medical progress that what once was extraordinary and disproportionate can become ordinary and proportionate. Yes progressives can’t get a handle on progress. They have no problem with artificial birth control, but draw the line at artificial nutrition.
Whether patients who are incapable of feeding themselves and will never regain consciousness can be said to be dying is part of the moral conundrum surrounding PVS.
Though of course they don’t mention that the mistaken diagnosis of PVS is quite high and the there has even been progress with some medicines to bring people back to consciousness. Regardless though someone’s current state of consciousness does not remove their human dignity or the duty of those who care for them to give them food and water.
As Sulmasy notes, most people’s reaction to the prospect of being kept alive in a condition like Terri Schiavo’s is one of horror. That moral instinct has long been recognized in Catholic teaching, as has the distinction between removing feeding tubes from someone in PVS, thus allowing him to die, and intending his death.
So I guess peoples reactions is much more important than a moral imperative to feed those who are sick. Peoples reaction to the thought of quadriplegic is also one of horror – so lets kill them to. So much for "For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink." and "Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me." Amen I say to the editors of Commonweal by pulling the proverbial plug from the least of them you are doing it to Him.