The Holy See has challenged an Italian court's decision allowing a young woman, in an irreversible coma for 16 years following a car accident, to be removed from life support. The Vatican denounces the decision as "an act of euthanasia de facto".
The Vatican on Wednesday opposed an Italian court decision to allow a comatose woman to be removed from life support, the ANSA news agency reported.
Monsignor Rino Fisichella, head of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life, told ANSA that the Milan court decision regarding Eluana Englaro, who has been in an irreversible coma for 16 years, justifies "an act of euthanasia de facto."
Fisichella said the ruling on Wednesday should be challenged in a higher court which could make a judgment "with more serenity and less emotion."
Eluana Englaro, born in 1972, has been in a vegetative state for 16 years following a road accident.
She has been receiving food and water artificially since January 1992 in a hospital in northern Lecco, and her father Beppino Englaro had been seeking an end to the life support since 1999.
The Milan court ruled that Englaro's "permanent vegetative state was irreversible" and that the young woman "would have preferred to die than being kept alive on artificial support."
Vatican Radio called the ruling "serious," recalling that for years courts had refused to consider Beppino Englaro's bid.
Catholic bioethics experts had said magistrates could not "disregard the inviolability of life and the duty of every civil society to help its weakest citizens," Vatican Radio recalled.
Debate on the emotive issue of euthanasia has been complicated in Italy by the influence of the Catholic Church, which notably refused to allow a religious funeral for poet and writer Piergiorgio Welby in 2006.
Welby, who suffered from muscular dystrophy, died in December 2006 after being taken off an artificial respirator.
His case highlighted ambiguities in Italian law, which currently forbids euthanasia but upholds a patient's right to refuse care.
Just two months later, a judge refused to allow another muscular dystrophy patient, Giovanni Nuvoli, to be removed from a respirator.
Date created : 2008-07-10