Vatican faults Anglican move on euthanasia

Vatican City - The Vatican is at odds with the Church of England over moves to allow passive euthanasia in exceptional circumstances for some seriously disabled newborn babies, a press report said on Tuesday.

"The life of an innocent being cannot be rubbed out, by whatever direct or indirect means," Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan told the Corriere della Sera daily.

"Euthanasia is never accepted... be it for the terminally ill or for babies, even when they are born with severe handicaps," said Barragan, the head of the Vatican Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers.

The Observer newspaper reported in London on Sunday that the Church of England made a submission to a British medical ethics committee looking at the implications of keeping severely premature babies alive through technological advances.

The Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler, reportedly wrote that "it may in some circumstances be right to choose to withhold or withdraw treatment, knowing it will possibly, probably, or even certainly result in death."

"There may be occasions where, for a Christian, compassion will override the 'rule' that life should inevitably be preserved," the south London bishop is said to have written.

"Disproportionate treatment for the sake of prolonging life is an example of this."

Last week, Britain's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists called for a debate on whether deliberate medical intervention to cause the death of severely disabled newborn babies should be legalised.