I am worried sick about the Pope. No disrespect, but the Catholic hierarchy are in danger of painting themselves into a corner with his case. He gets respiratory failure, so they give him a tracheostomy. Next thing he will be on intermittent positive pressure respiration. Then they are stuck. They can keep Karol Wotilya alive indefinitely with renal dialysis and a PEG tube - but what the hell do they do then? They have a fully alive bionic Pope, but how will he sign things? will he be able to wave? (Yes, if necessary they can stimulate the biceps and triceps muscles alternately). Will he be able to give verbal blessings? (I suppose recordings are possible, but it's not the same is it?)
But the main point is - they will be stuck with an artificially, indefinitely alive Pontiff. They won't be able to turn him off because that would be Euthanasia, and Euthanasia = Anathema. The only person who could deanathematise euthanasia would be the Pope - but if he did that, it would be Suicide, which would be even worse.
So. All I can say is, I am really really glad I am not a Catholic, because they may be heading for some real theological headaches.
(Me personally I blame the solicitors. It is the constant threat of litigation that makes doctors do mad things to stave off the Reaper.
I knew of someone who was dying of cancer, in constant pain, poor soul wanted to die, couldn't eat - so what did the doctors do? Put in a bloody PEG tube, that's what, to eke out her miserable existence for another couple of weeks.
"Thou shalt not kill, but do not strive
Officiously to keep alive".
- Arthur Hugh Clough)