ROME, September 7, 2012, ( – An Italian filmmaker responsible for a recently released movie on the starvation of comatose patient Eluana Englaro has given an interview to the French Press Agency lamenting that it’s impossible to legalize the killing of the disabled in Italy, because of the influence of the Catholic faith.

“When the power of Catholics is so strong, as is the case in Italy, it’s almost impossible to promote a more secular law” allowing euthanasia, Marco Bellocchio told the AFP, and noted by way of illustration that “living will” legislation has stalled in the Italian parliament.

“As long as the Catholics are able to condition Italian political life, things will not change: it will be impossible to pass a law, even one that is respectful, on the end of life,” Bellocchio added.


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The filmmaker is currently competing for the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival for his movie Sleeping Beauty, about the euthanizing of Eluana Englaro, a 38-year-old woman who had been in a coma for 16 years when she was put to death by dehydration and starvation at the behest of her father in 2009.

The case caused an uproar in Italy, where the predominantly Catholic population continues to reject euthanasia. Nutrition and hydration were only discontinued after Englaro was removed from a Catholic hospice, where the nuns refused to cooperate, and taken to a secular hospital.

Then, in a move that mirrored the actions of the U.S. federal government in the Terri Schaivo case, the Italian parliament attempted to pass a law to save the life of Englaro, but she died the day after the Communist president Napolitano refused to ratify the bill that had been passed in the legislature.

Englaro died very unexpectedly after her hydration had been removed for only about three days. The actual cause of death was never released to the public. She had been in her semi-conscious state for long enough that her health was likely very delicate.

Although Bellocchio claims not to be promoting an agenda with the film, he admits that his pro-euthanasia position is discernible in it.  According to the AFP, about 50 people protested against the production at the Venice film festival, saying that that Bellocchio had “killed Eluana a second time.”