November 16, 2008

'Let Eluana Englaro live!'

After the ruling by Italy's top appeals court allowing Eluana Englaro’s family to halt the treatment that is keeping her alive, the nuns of the Misericordine Order, under whose care Eluana has been surviving for 14 years, have launched a moving appeal to save her life. In a letter published in yesterday’s Avvenire, the daily newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference, they said:

Our hope, and that of many like us, is that the death by hunger and thirst of Eluana, and others in her condition, will not be carried out. That is why, once again, we maintain our availability, today and into the future, to continue to serve Eluana. If there are those who consider her dead, let Eluana remain with us who feel she is alive. We don’t ask anything but the silence and the liberty to love and to devote ourselves to those who are weak, poor and little in return.

A crystal clear example, in my view, of what Catholic faith and, I dare to say, Catholic moral theology are all about. [See also here]

As for the Catholic hierarchy, Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, described allowing Eluana Englaro to die as an “immense crime” and a “civil and moral defeat.” Eluana, he said, would die an “atrocious death” by being deprived of water and nutrition. A step on the road to legal euthanasia, in his view. But he added that he had “profound respect” for Eluana’s father (“I pray for him”), and that “no one who has not had a similar experience can possibly judge her family, or indeed other families dealing with similar cases.”

Another example, but this time of a comprehensive, well-balanced approach to this kind of case. Both the nuns and Archbishop Fisichella, in my own humble opinion, have been equal to their task.