March 12 Rally for Terri

Remarks of Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer

Rally for Terri Schiavo and Family

Woodside Hospice, Pinellas Park, FL

Saturday, March 12, 2005

It was Pope John Paul II who coined the term “culture of death” in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (the Gospel of Life) and told us that we must not be afraid to raise our voices in conscientious objection to it and to work together to build the culture of life in our world. He emphasized that a culture of death is not just an act of violence or killing but is a mentality of killing that has worked its way into the very institutions of our society. He said that we are living in a time of unprecedented attacks on innocent human life, a reality which has deep roots in philosophies and attitudes that come from sources other than the Judeo-Christian tradition and natural law. He even said, in so many words, that we are at the end of a very long “slippery slope” of death, and we know that this condition has not gotten better since the writing of that encyclical. Our presence in front of this hospice proves that it has only gotten worse.

The Church has consistently sounded the alarm about the depredations of the culture of death even if she has not always used that term. In the 30s she said that contraception would lead to abortion. It did. In the fifties and sixties she reiterated that truth and said that abortion would lead to infanticide. It did. Recently she has raised the alarm that the ugly fruit of all this killing of babies is the devaluation of human life and the inevitable killing of other vulnerable populations through euthanasia. Terri’s plight proves the Church right again.

In Luke’s Gospel the Lord says, “Everything that is hidden will come to light,” and we are witnesses to that. Before the legalization of abortion babies were being killed clandestinely and no one saw their plight. Now we have all seen the horrific pictures of aborted babies and the gruesome partial birth abortion, and we “see” the reality in the plain light of day. Euthanasia is being practiced in this nation at a rate that none of us would like to admit. People are being starved to death every day behind the closed doors of hospitals and hospices, and it has taken the heroic suffering of Terri Schiavo and her family to bring that reality to light and wake us all up to the ugliness of this more recent aggression of the culture of death. Terri is, if you will, an icon of the helpless innocent who needs others to advocate her cause. She has no voice or strength to defend herself from the arrogance of evil men. Whether she lives or dies—and we are bending every possible effort to save her life as we all know—her testimony will live on as a witness to the culture of life and the plight of all those, born or unborn, who are the targets of the unscrupulous power brokers of the culture of death.

Terri’s plight is also a call to the conscience of America. Her very person, her illness, and the battle that surrounds her beckon our nation to wake from its moral slumber and to restore legal protection to the innocent in the face of such powerful systemic evils such as we are seeing displayed in all their terror in the Pinellas County Courthouse. We are, if you will, the conscience of our nation. We have responded to Terri’s call. Our presence at this place is a voice re-echoing Terri’s call to America and to the world that there is no such thing as a person who is unfit to live, that every single human life is precious and must be protected. We must also keep in mind that America is the cultural and political leader of the world. The whole world is watching what happens on our stage, and for good or evil, we export our culture to the rest of the world. What we do here has massive consequences for the whole world. It is not too bold to say that we are the conscience of the entire world.

If a person—or a nation—loses its conscience, everything is lost, and that is why your presence and deeds in this case will never be forgotten.

History will remember this day and will know that we have not been silent in the face of such crimes against humanity. How do I know that? Because life always wins in the end. History does not look kindly on death and killers which it can see with the lucid vision of hindsight. We will write that history because we and our people and our families will live to tell the story, and the Michael Schiavos and George Greers of this age will be seen and judged for what they are: agents of the culture of death.

As the conscience of our nation then, we must always do the two things that we are here to do, and we must get others to join us: first, we must get down on our knees and beg the Lord to put an end to this travesty. We must do whatever we can humanly do to stop this killing, but in human terms we cannot really stop the onslaught of wickedness that is woven into the very fabric of our society. God must cleanse our nation from this evil, and He will do it if we just keep praying. Secondly, we must then get up off our knees and resolve never to be silent in the face of any threat to innocent human life. We must speak out in whatever way we are able to echo that voice of conscience to a nation that is in serious danger of losing its soul. With prayer and conscientious objection to the culture of death perhaps in time our nation will restore protection to all human life and renounce once and for all the misdeeds of the culture of death.

God bless you!