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A woman puts her euthanasia on hold after talking to her archbishop

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Gelsomino Del Guercio - published on 03/16/22

"I never imagined that an archbishop would be interested in the sick and bedridden," she said.

A disabled woman from Florence, Italy, announced that she wanted to go to Switzerland to be euthanized. An “extraordinary gesture” of Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna, put her choice on hold.

Anna’s illness

Anna Milazzo, a 74-year-old pensioner from Campi Bisenzio, suffers from post-operative tetraplegia. Since 2018, she has been confined to an anti-decubitus bed; her caretakers are her husband Paolo, 80, and a paid caregiver, according to La Nazione. Her needs have become greater than the care she is able to receive at home—a situation exacerbated by the pandemic—so she decided to seek euthanasia. Since this is not legal in Italy, she planned to go to Switzerland.

Fr. Massimo Ruggiani, parish priest of the church of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus in Bologna and episcopal vicar, had already met Anna Milazzo in the past. When he read her story, he wanted to intervene. He decided to go to the cardinal, who in turn gave Anna a pleasant surprise call.

monsignor matteo zuppi
Cardinal Matteo Zuppi

What Cardinal Zuppi told her

Anna described their conversation to La Nazione. “Archbishop Zuppi told me: ‘I want to see you. I can’t go to Florence right now, but I will come. Fr. Massimo spoke to me about you, and in the meantime I wanted to greet you and let you know that I’m praying for you.’ I was moved. I never imagined that an archbishop would be interested in the sick and bedridden. I’m very grateful to him. I had already heard from Fr. Massimo, who also promised to talk to Mayor Nardella on the subject of additional possibilities of home care for the disabled. This is not a battle I’m fighting for me alone, but for all disabled people.”

Low quality of life

Anna’s story, according to La Nazione, has opened a discussion on the quality of life of people with severe disabilities, and Cardinal Zuppi has become actively involved. 

The cardinal and euthanasia

In 2017, La Nazione reports, Cardinal Zuppi spoke to TgCom24 about another high-profile case: that of DJ Fabo, who ended up obtaining euthanasia in Switzerland. The cardinal recognized how difficult an issue it is, because of the great suffering of these people who are gravely ill or disabled and have no hope of improvement. The cardinal highlighted the importance of respecting the person’s life and taking care of them in their needs, reaffirming the importance of their life even in these situations.

For the moment, he has managed to bring a smile to Anna’s face, and she’s looking forward to meeting him in person. 

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