The President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, said this week that there “must be a distinction between the medical act by which feeding tubes are inserted and food and hydration itself which we do not consider to fall under therapy.”
According to the SIR news agency, the archbishop made his remarks in response to questions from reporters about the Eluana Englaro case, the Italian woman who died after her food and water were slowly withdrawn at a hospital in Udine at the request of her father.
He pointed out that there are “hundreds and thousands of doctors and scientists who do not consider food and water to be therapy. These are elements essential for the lives of persons and we think they should always be guaranteed, because giving food and water to a person can never be considered extraordinary means.”
Commenting later about the law on the “end of life” currently being debated in the Italian congress, the archbishop noted that “in the Church there is always a reflection on the beginning, the development and the end of life” because “we should always keep alive the question about the meaning of life, of sickness and of suffering.” In addition, he stated, “at certain historical moments,” this reflection “is more urgent.” In this case, the archbishop explained, “the Church is called to make a judgment, and her way of thinking should never be marginalized.”