Sadness and forgiveness for Eluana’s 'murder'

Vatican City – ''The death of Eluana can only leave a shadow of sadness given the circumstances that surround it. But physical death never has the last word for Christians. Even in Eluana’s name, therefore, we will continue to search for the most effective ways to serve life”. That is how Fr. Federico Lombardi, Press Officer Director of the Holy See, greeted the news of the death of Eluana Englaro, the women who for the past 17 years has live din a vegetative state. Ms Englaro died yesterday evening at 20.10, four days after all feeding and hydration was stopped according to a sentence passed down by the High Court and long desired by the woman’s father. This ruling and its application has divided the nation, between supporters of respect for the law and the right to die and those who defend life.

''Now Eluana is at peace – continued Fr. Lombardi speaking to Vatican Radio - , we hope that her case, in the wake of so much discussion, becomes a motive for us all to responsibly search for better ways to care for the weakest people in society, with full respect for the right to life. Those people – as the Pope recalled in this Sunday’s Angelus – cannot be left in any way to care for themselves, those people who are totally dependent on the care of others”.

Card. Lozano Barragan, of the Pontifical council for Healthcare, also underlines that what matters now is that we “entrust Eluana to the Lord, so that he open the gates of heaven to her, after her suffering her on earth”. And referring to her father and the doctors who carried out the protocol that led to her death, he added: ''I pray that Lord ….forgive those who brought this about. And I invite everyone to pray in the spirit of forgiveness”.

The ruling, which involved the interruption of all feeding and hydration of the woman and the administration of sedatives to “accompany her towards death”, had pushed the Italian government to present a decree banning the interruption of nourishment for the terminally ill and disabled, not considered to be “treatment” but a basic need bound to the right to life. The Italian President Giorgio Napolitano refused to sign the decree alluding to reasons linked to the constitutional process. The government then attempted to race a bill through parliament on the same issue. In the very middle of the Senate debate, news of Eluana’s death arrived.

Only yesterday, the neurologist chosen by the Englaro family to follow this phase had declared that “her physical state is excellent, she will resist longer than average….Eluana is a healthy women, who has never had illness or need of antibiotics. From the moment of the suspension of feeding and hydration, it could take up to 12 to 14 days”. Card. Barragan said that ''we need to clarify the circumstances surrounding her death”, if it was caused by the suspension “or for other reasons”. Instead for Card. Josè Saraiva Martins: ''It is murder…they have killed an innocent woman incapable of protecting herself”.