October 16, 2003
Catholic Media Coalition
Contact: Mary Ann Kreitzer
(540) 459-9493
The euthanasia murder of Terri Schindler Schiavo by starvation and dehydration which began yesterday at 2:00 p.m. is a violation of her right to life and a crime against humanity. The Catholic Media Coalition condemns it unequivocally and calls on every Catholic bishop in the United States to express public outrage against this violation of Terri’s right to life and her human dignity. We also call on her bishop, Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg to defend her right to receive the sacraments and the comfort of the faith in this time of trial.
The Catholic Church, of which Terri is a member, teaches that food and water are ordinary means of life and may never be removed unless an individual is imminently dying (within a few hours or days) or cannot receive benefit from them. Terri clearly does not meet that standard. She is not dying and has obviously benefited over the years from tube feeding. Legal decisions allowing the deliberate killing by neglect of the weak and defenseless are always immoral.
Pope John Paul II addressed this issue in his letter to the Bishops of the World issued June 21, 1991. “When legislative bodies enact laws that authorize putting innocent people to death and states allow their resources and structures to be used for these crimes, individual consciences, often poorly formed, are all the more easily led into error. In order to break this vicious circle, it seems more urgent than ever that we should forcefully reaffirm our common teaching, based on sacred Scripture and tradition, with regard to the inviolability of innocent human life.”
On October 2, 1998 the Pope specifically addressed the issue of nutrition and hydration affirming a statement of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee saying it, “rightly emphasizes that the omission of nutrition and hydration intended to cause a patient’s death must be rejected and that, while giving careful consideration to all the factors involved, the presumption should be in favor of providing medically assisted nutrition and hydration to all patients who need them.” The Pope made this statement the same day former Louisville, KY anchorman, Hugh Finn, had his feeding tube removed by legal order at the request of his wife Michele and against the wishes of his parents and siblings. Hugh died an agonizing death nine days later. [See here]
Mary Ann Kreitzer, President of the Catholic Media Coalition, expressed profound sorrow at the tepid response of the Catholic bishops to this crisis of euthanasia. “I’m ashamed as a Catholic to say that our Coalition contacted every bishop in the country asking for their support for Terri and received only a handful of replies. Most of those responding told us they would not take a stand. Her situation is not unique. Murder by neglect is occurring with greater frequency around the country with the complicity of medical staff and the courts. If the Catholic hierarchy fails to speak with authority their silence will be construed as consent. Bishop Lynch’s behavior has been baffling. It took incredible pressure from the CMC to finally get a statement from the Florida bishops, and even that is tainted with inaccuracies. We desperately need men of courage like Bishop Clemens von Galen who mounted his pulpit in Munster Cathedral on August 3, 1941 and blasted the German euthanasia program that was murdering the helpless. He did not stop it, but most certainly reduced the death toll. Doctors and judges were responsible for that deadly program and the United States is now on the same road they traveled. Unless we vigorously defend the innocent, like Terri Schiavo, and repress these evil judges and the doctors who are complicit with them, we will have euthanasia on a massive scale.
“Think of the police officers surrounding Terri’s bed and the Hospice building to make sure no one interferes with her deliberate premeditated murder. Think of Judge Greer who ordered Terri’s execution and the Supreme Court of Florida and the federal judge who would not stop him. Then consider Bishop von Galen’s words. ‘None of us will be safe.There will be no police to protect the victims, no court of appeal..Woe to mankind, woe to the German people, if we thus transgress God’s commandment, delivered amid thunder and lightning from Mount Sinai and implanted in the heart and conscience of man, Thou shalt not kill.'”
The Catholic Media Coalition stands with Terri and the Schindler family in this terrible trial and offer our prayers. We share their moral outrage at this cruel injustice. We beg all people of good will to storm heaven for redress and to enter the political arena to restore morality to this country which has strayed so far from our founding principles. We urge citizens to continue contacting Governor Jeb Bush begging his intervention. It is time for a showdown between the executive branch of government and a runaway judiciary that has embraced the murder of the innocent.