Cardinal Martino: Those Who Did Nothing Are Accomplices to Murder

Cardinal calls those who helped Schiavo die ‘accomplices to murder’

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Whoever stands idly by without trying to prevent the death of Terri Schindler Schiavo becomes an accomplice to murder, said Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

The death of the severely brain-damaged woman “would represent a homicide in which it is impossible to idly stand by without becoming accomplices,” he said in a March 31 interview with Vatican Radio.

Schiavo died March 31, nearly two weeks after her feeding tube was removed.

The Italian cardinal made his comments the day after the U.S. Supreme Court and a federal appeals court refused to intervene and order doctors in Florida to resume feeding Schiavo.

The 41-year-old woman’s feeding tube was removed March 18 after a decision by a Florida state judge allowed the husband, Michael Schiavo, to order doctors to take out the tube.

Prior to the announcement of Schiavo’s death, Cardinal Martino said that even though she was “incapable of communicating” she “probably, as some medical experts say, is suffering.”

Not allowing for the reinsertion of a feeding tube represents “an unjust death sentence of an innocent person,” he said.

The cardinal said having Schiavo die of starvation and thirst was “one of the most inhumane and cruel” ways to die.

“Beyond the possible political exploitation” of the Schiavo case, her “painful, heartbreaking agony” should be enough to force humanity to prevent what will be an otherwise tragic end to her life, said the cardinal.