A year after the death of Eluana Englaro, known as Italy's Terri Schiavo, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life is encouraging Catholics to defend life “from conception to natural death.”
Recalling the case of 38-year-old Englaro, whose feeding tube was removed after being in a coma for 17 years, Archbishop Rino Fisichella told the magazine “Il Sussidiario” that the painful incident “tore our social fabric, especially because the people were not properly informed.”
The Englaro case, he continued, was “a very sad page in our history: a girl who was seriously ill, but alive was deprived of nourishment - she was dehydrated and exposed. Contrary to what was reported, it led to great suffering and death.”
After explaining that the Church should always be prepared for new bioethical challenges, the archbishop referred to the responsibility of the media to provide appropriate information.
“In recent days the media has finally reported on an important scientific discovery: In Belgium, several doctors have shown that brain activity can be observed, even if minimal, in people who are in a 'vegetative state' - a term which I don’t think is correct.” He went on to explain that “vegetative state” is an expression “that does not measure up to the objectivity of the clinical data. It is false and misleading.”
Archbishop Fisichella also said that Catholics have the important task of building greater consensus on issues having their foundation in natural law and that transcend cultural, religious and political differences.
“Catholics should be on the front lines of the defense of life in all of its manifestations, from conception to natural death, aware of the great responsibility they have in defending these principles,” he concluded.