Italian Premier Blames President for Eluana Englaro’s Death, Vatican Responds

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 10, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Italian Premier Blames President for Eluana Englaro’s Death, Vatican Responds

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 10
, 2009

Rome, Italy ( — In the day following the euthanasia death of Eluana Englaro, the disabled woman in a similar condition as Terri Schiavo, top political leaders are blaming one another for her death. Meanwhile, the Vatican has responded to Englaro’s death and the Catholic Church says patients need more protections.

Englaro died on Monday after four days of partial starvation and dehydration after a medical clinic agreed to follow a court order allowing her father to take her life.

On Tuesday, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Englaro was "killed" and blamed President Giorgio Napolitano for her death because he refused to sign an emergency order to allow her food and water.

"Eluana did not die a natural death," Berlusconi told the Libero daily newspaper. "She was killed."

"Napolitano made a serious mistake," another paper quoted Berlusconi as saying. He lamented that the Italian parliament was not able to approve another measure in time to save her.

Englaro was "the only citizen to be condemned to death," he said, and added that the decision by the medical clinic to stop feeding her amounted to euthanasia, which is illegal in Italy.

The Vatican has responded as well and its health minister Javier Lozano Barragan asked God to "forgive" those responsible for her death.

"May the Lord welcome her and forgive those who led her there (to her death)," he said.

"I hope God will help us to heal this wound," the head of the Italian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, told a local television station. He said Italy "needs a just law, for the good of our society, to avoid events like this being repeated."

Although Englaro’s neurologist claimed she would live two weeks, like Terri did, before the forced withdrawal of food and water would claim her life, Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian Conference of Bishops, said Vatican leaders want to know why she died suddenly.

"We want to know everything," the Catholic newspaper said.

Gianluigi Gigli, head of the "For Eluana" anti-euthanasia group, agreed and said, "Something very strange has happened."

In a commentary on Vatican Radio, Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said, "In the name of Eluana we must continue to seek more effective ways to serve life."

"Now that Eluana is at peace, we hope that her situation — after so much discussion — will be a motive for calm reflection and for a responsible search for better ways to accomodate the weakest people with all due respect for the rights to life, love and attentive care," he said.

Englaro will be cremated and her ashes buried next to those of her grandfather, according to an ANSA report.

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