Pope Benedict today waded into a fiercely debated right-to-die case in Italy, affirming the "absolute and supreme" need to protect life even when "weak and shrouded in the mystery of suffering." The pontiff's last-minute intervention in the case of a woman who has been in a coma for 17 years comes after Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi passed an emergency decree to prevent her father from taking her off feeding tubes, but the president refused to sign the decree.
The Italian president said the decree, which outlawed suspending feeding and hydration for patients who depend on it, violates court rulings and the separation of executive and judicial functions. The woman's father, who has waged a 10-year court battle to take her off feeding tubes, says that was her wish. But Berlusconi said Eluana Englaro, 38, “is someone who could in theory even have a child," reports Bloomberg. Now the government plans to bring a bill to parliament.