Catholic Priest Returns Italian Award After Nation Allows Killing of Eluana Englaro

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 18, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Priest Returns Italian Award After Nation Allows Killing of Eluana Englaro

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 18
, 2009

Rome, Italy ( — A Catholic priest has returned the award he received from the president of Italy in protest of the nation allowing Eluana Englaro’s father to subject her to a starvation euthanasia death. Father Aldo Trento, who works with severely disabled and minimally conscious patients like Englaro, is upset she was killed.

Englaro had been in a minimally conscious state since 1992, when she was involved in an automobile accident. After four days earlier this month of partial starvation and dehydration, she died.

Father Trento, a missionary at the Priestly Fraternity of St. Charles Borromeo in Paraguay, heads a clinic for the terminally ill.

According to a Zenit report, he received the title "Knight of the Order of the Star of Solidarity" in June from Italian president Giorgio Napolitano.

But last week, he returned the honor to Napolitano after his refusal to sign a special Cabinet-approved measure that would have saved Englaro’s life.

"How can I, an Italian citizen, receive such an honor from you, who, with your action, permitted the death of Eluana in the name of the Italian Republic?" he said, according to Zenit.

Father Trento also spoke with the newspaper Il Foglio.

"I have more than one case like Eluana Englaro," he said about the patients at his clinic. "I think of little Victor, a child in a coma, who clenches his fists. All we do is feed him through a tube. Faced with these situations, how can I react to the case of Eluana?"

He described some of the patients that he has seen who others said were without hope.

"Yesterday they brought me a girl who was naked, a prostitute, in a coma, who had been dumped in front of a hospital. Her name is Patricia and she is 19. We washed her. Yesterday she started to move her eyes," he told the newspaper.

"Celeste is 11; she suffers from a very grave form of leukemia; she was never taken care of and they brought her to me just to bury. Today she is walking. And she laughs," he added.

Englaro’s father Beppino had won a court order to kill his daughter after fighting for a decade to do so.

Her death came at a time when the Italian Parliament was debating whether or not to approve an emergency measure to save her life. Premier Silvio Berlusconi and members of the cabinet signed off on it but Napolitano vetoed it saying it went against the court ruling.

Leading government officials and the Catholic Church strongly opposed forcing a euthanasia death upon Englaro and said she had a right to live.

The Vatican’s "health minister" Javier Lozano Barragan told the ANSA news agency that Englaro will now be in a better place and expressed his sadness that Englaro was forced to live without food and water for days.

Terri Schiavo’s father had written to Beppino asking him to reconsider his decision to kill his daughter.

"God gave you and I the responsibility to instill morals in our children and to keep them out of harm’s way. To starve and dehydrate your daughter is far from God’s wishes." he said.

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