She has gone, but she will not be forgotten, nor will those whose acts, conduct and omissions cut short her life.
February 9, 2009
This time, I wrote last Tuesday, nothing, but a miracle, will stop Eluana Englaro’s “execution.” Now only one of two things is possible: either I was wrong or a miracle is happening. In fact, the Cabinet of ministers on Friday unanimously approved an emergency decree, which was drafted Thursday, to stop doctors carrying out the Supreme Court ruling authorizing the death by starvation and dehydration of Eluana.
This, despite open opposition—on the ground that the decree was unconstitutional—from President (and Head of State) Giorgio Napolitano, who according to the Italian Constitution must approve the decree before it becomes effective.
”We can’t allow responsibility for Eluana’s death to fall on us,” said Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Eluana, he added, “is not brain dead but breathes in an autonomous way. Her brain cells are alive and send electrical signals and she is a person who could in theory have a child, […] she is in a vegetative state that could change, as has been seen several times.”
But Napolitano’s refusal, as clearly explained in this LifeSiteNews.com article, “has ‘frozen’ the measure and although there is a procedure in place in Parliament to override his decision, it will take 20 days to implement, by which time Eluana will have been successfully dehydrated to death.”
In turn, the Englaro family lawyer, Vittorio Angiolini, said ”There’s no discussion: we’re going ahead,” that is to say that doctors will proceed as planned with the progressive reduction of Eluana’s feeding and hydrating, which they began Friday morning.
Practically, it will be a race against time for the Parliament to try to save the life of Eluana Englaro, and perhaps a further miracle is what is needed to succeed. Pope Benedict, though without referring directly to the case of Eluana, reaffirmed yesterday “the absolute and supreme dignity of every human being,” and asked the faithful to pray “for those who are gravely ill but cannot in any way provide for themselves and are totally dependent on the care of others.”
As it is well known the Englaro case has drawn comparisons with that of Terri Schiavo. Now it seems that even the latest events in the Eluana case have many similarities to the last days of the American woman whose feeding tube was removed in March 2005: the US Congress passed a bill to allow a federal court to review the case, and George W. Bush returned from his Texas ranch to sign the bill into law, but a federal judge refused to order the tube reinserted, a decision upheld by a federal appeals court and the Supreme Court.
The decree provoked shrill, even hysterical reactions by the opposition. Antonio Di Pietro, for instance, described the decree as ”an extremely serious danger for democracy,” which is frankly a bit silly. They often seem to have not the slightest idea of what they’re talking about, or rather they are attempting to make people forget the real issue … But I don’t want to spend too many words on the subject here. Rather, I would draw the attention to what Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, referring to the case of Eluana Englaro, said in his homily given on February 1, 2009, at the cathedral in Bologna:
The spiritual event of the West has come to the end of the line: If the life of man does not belong to man but to God, no one has control over it for any reason, [but] if the life of man belongs to man, it is consistent to hypothesize circumstances in which everyone can do what he wants with his life or ask others to put an end to it.
The bishop of Bologna also said that
the illusion of building a human home ‘as if God did not exist’ must at some moment bring us to this point. […] In the body of this woman, and in her fate, there is an image of the fate of the West.
Those very thoughtful and inspired words immediately reminded me of the famous statement contained in the tale of The Grand Inquisitor, told by Ivan to Alyosha in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov: “If God doesn’t exist, then everything is permitted.”
Are we witnessing the fulfilment of what was predicted by Dostoevsky, if not by someone else ... long before him?