The trial of conscience playing out across Italy over the case of Eluana Englaro, drew Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano into the debate last Friday, when he refused to sign an emergency decree preventing the removal of food and water from the woman. On Sunday, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone spoke with Napolitano about the case over the phone.
At the center of the debate surrounding "Italy’s Terri Schiavo" is whether or not her father, Beppino Englaro should be allowed to end her life by removing hydration and her feeding tube.
The Catholic Church teaches that patients who require extraordinary measures to stay alive do not need to be artificially sustained, but those who only require ordinary means, such as food and water, should not be deprived of these basic necessities.
The Vatican released a statement on Sunday saying that Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone spoke with President Napolitano in a "cordial telephone conversation" about Eluana Englaro’s case.
"Concerning the Englaro case, appreciation was expressed for the acceleration given by parliament to the approval of the projected law," said the statement in reference to an emergency decree passed to prevent Eluana’s feeding tube from being removed. President Napolitano refused to sign the decree saying it is unconstitutional.
Pope Benedict XVI indirectly referred to Eluana’s case on Sunday by offering his prayers for her. "Let us pray for all the sick, especially those most seriously ill, who cannot provide for themselves in any way, but are completely dependent on the care of others. May each of them experience, in the concern of those beside him, the power of God's love and the riches of his saving grace. Mary, health of the sick, pray for us," he said.