Letter to USCCB on Terri

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November 10, 2003

The Very Reverend Bishop Wilton B.Gregory
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Your Excellency:

An unprecedented phenomenon in the struggle between the sanctity of life and the culture of death confronts us.  A hitherto unknown Catholic woman, Mrs. Theresa Schindler Schiavo, has become a unifying symbol for the disabled, the abandoned, and those persons for whom society has no use. [See www.terrisfight.org] Terri Schiavo, a 39 year-old Florida woman rendered cognitively disabled from an undetermined cause, embodies the characteristics of persons whose lives appear to lack “quality,” whom a pagan society would willingly eliminate through court ordered euthanasia.

Theresa Schiavo is alive today for one reason only: she has an intact family.  That family, father and mother, brother and sister have fought valiantly to save her life from an adulterous husband who relentlessly seeks her death by the barbaric method of dehydration/starvation. In our society where the family is maligned and constantly under attack, the Schindlers admirably demonstrate what we know a family should be.

The Schiavo case is purposefully being used as a wedge to further the cause of physician assisted suicide and to bring euthanasia within the legal boundaries of the Constitution under the same ruse of privacy rights that are employed to kill the pre-born. After all, there’s not much difference between an umbilical cord and a feeding tube, is there?  The resemblance between Schindler vs  Schiavo and Roe vs Wade is unmistakable.

The instant recognition by a massive grassroots citizenry that the Schiavo case involves the intentional killing of a living, non-terminal, disabled person became so powerful that it awakened a nation.  With the media in tow and the Internet on fire, Terri Schiavo became a household name. The outcry against injustice was so great that the governor and legislative body of a highly politically volatile state acted within forty-eight hours to confirm a singular law, i.e. Terri’s Law, to prevent the starvation death of Mrs. Schiavo.

The crescendo of Terri’s Fight has brought the life issues crashing to the front of many minds. With so much misinformation in the public square, our Catholic people are confused regarding the Church’s teaching. Many senior citizens are signing Living Wills that make them vulnerable to being denied food and water like Terri Schiavo. Therefore, we ask our bishops to publicly enunciate

the Church’s teaching regarding euthanasia, physician assisted suicide, and the moral requirements of care for all sick and disabled individuals as well as those facing a terminal illness. Catholics need to know that food and water, no matter in what form they are delivered, are the God-given right of all persons.  The removal of nutrition/hydration with the subsequent intent to cause death, as in the case of Mrs. Schiavo, is strictly forbidden by Catholic moral teaching.

The Terri Schiavo case is now widely known and recognized by many for what it is, the ideological struggle between the spiritual forces who revere the sanctity of life and the utilitarian forces who have scant regard for humanity in its compromised states.  Not surprisingly, the liberal media elites have misrepresented the facts of the case. Unfortunately, this bias has not been missing from the statements and writings of certain misguided priests: Fr. Desmond Daly and Fr.Gerald Murphy of the St. Petersburg Diocese, Fr. Kevin O’Rourke, O.P. who was interviewed by the Miami Herald, and Fr. Kevin Wildes, S.J. who appeared on Nightline. All have publicly misstated Church teaching and justified what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) forbids: “an act or omission (our emphasis) which of itself or by intention causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person.” The scandal of these priests publicly advocating Terri’s murder by neglect must be undone. The overarching culture of death and societal injustice cuts across all diocesan and state boundaries threatening many, but Terri, a daughter of the Church, is in imminent danger at this moment. So we call upon this body of bishops to make a strong, unequivocal, public defense of her life with all possible haste.

Throughout the years we have been more than disappointed that decisive public action from our bishops has not been forthcoming regarding vital pro-life issues. Its absence has been particularly shocking in the case of Terri Schiavo and other disabled individuals dehydrated to death in the judicial coliseum with a complicit media giving its thumbs down. Where is the bishops’ prophetic voice addressing these atrocities? Your startling absence from the public square as the laity battle these monumental injustices is a scandal to all people. Terri and others like her need your vigorous public defense. The situation is urgent! We have named November 30th, the first Sunday of Advent, Theresa Schindler Schiavo Day.  We will be doing all we can to raise awareness of her plight among Catholics of the United States .  We beg for your assistance.  In all sincerity and hope, we pray that at the conclusion of this November 2003 conference you will issue a strong public statement condemning euthanasia and supporting the right to life of Theresa Schindler Schiavo, our sister in Christ.

Assuring you of our constant prayers we remain

Sincerely in Christ,
Mary Ann Kreitzer,  President
Catholic Media Coalition
For member organizations see:

Catholic Media Coalition
1216 Mill Road
Woodstock Virginia 22664

email: kreitzr1@shentel.net