By Hilary White

ROME, November 12, 2008 ( – A high-level Vatican official has warned an Italian court that to allow the removal of Eluana Englaro’s feeding tube is a “monstrous and inhuman murder.”

Englaro, 36, was severely injured in a 1992 car accident that left her in a state of minimal consciousness. She can, however, breathe on her own and is not on a ventilator; her “life support” has consisted of assisted feeding and hydration. Her father, Beppino Englaro, has been petitioning courts to remove his daughter’s assisted nutrition and hydration since 1999.

The Court of Cassation in Rome, Italy’s highest appeals court, was advised yesterday by Prosecutor-General (PG) Domenico Iannelli, to “allow Eluana to die” by the removal of her food and hydration.

Javier Cardinal Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health, however, told media today that the push to remove Eluana’s food and hydration was “a monstrosity.”

“To deprive her of water and food means to kill her. It is inhuman,” he said.

Food and water does not belong in the category of therapy, Barragan said. “In any case, to suspend hydration and nutrition in a patient in a ‘vegetative state’ worsens his condition, and the terrible death by hunger and thirst is a monstrous and inhuman murder.”

In July, a lower court ruled that Eluana could be dehydrated to death, but the state appealed. Yesterday the court deferred its decision. The President of the Court, Vincenzo Carbone, said the decision “will be announced as soon as possible, given the particularities of the case.”

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