MILAN (AP) — The Italian Bishops' Conference is coming out against a constitutional court ruling that assisted suicide is not punishable in cases when a patient in an irreversible condition is suffering unbearable pain.

The secretary-general of the bishop's conference, Stefano Russo, says on Thursday that the ruling "creates the preconditions for a culture of death in which society loses the light of reason."

The ruling late Wednesday is the latest development in the heavily Roman Catholic nation's long-running debate over end-of-life issues. The constitutional court in Rome ruled in the case of a defendant who brought a friend, a well-known Italian DJ who was left quadriplegic by an accident, to Switzerland to die in an assisted suicide clinic.

Russo said "such a strong ruling" should not precede action by the parliament.