Vatican officials call Terri’s Death “Murder”

Rome, Mar. 31 ( – The Vatican has called the death of disabled woman Terri Schiavo a “murder” and “arbitrarily hastened.” Joaquin Navarro-Valls, spokesman for the Holy See, said of Schiavo’s death on Thursday due to court-ordered starvation and dehydration, “nourishing a person can never be regarded as extraordinary therapy.”

Cardinal Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, told the I.Media news agency that the death of the American woman qualifies as “murder” and “euthanasia.”

Terri Schiavo, 41, died in Florida on Thursday, 13 days after the court-ordered withdrawal of a feeding tube. She had suffered a heart attack in 1990, which caused severe brain damage. Last October, her husband Michael had obtained authorization from the courts to disconnect his wife, which was finally done on March 18.

“A death was arbitrarily hastened because nourishing a person can never be regarded as extraordinary therapy,” said Navarro-Valls. Stressing that “an existence was interrupted,” the spokesman pointed out the Catholic teaching that “one cannot admit exceptions to the principle of the sacredness of life from conception to natural death.” He added, “More than just a principle of Christian ethics, it is a principle of human civilization.”

Navarro-Valls said, “The circumstances of Terri Schiavo’s death very rightly upsets the conscience.” He hoped “that this dramatic experience will bring to fruition a greater awareness of human dignity in the public opinion, and will bring greater protections for life at the legal level.”

Meanwhile, Cardinal Lozano Barragan said, “That was a murder, that was an act of euthanasia.” He pointed out the doctrines of the Church which say that “hydration and nutrition are not considered medical treatment and one cannot characterize them as extraordinary therapy.” The Mexican cardinal expressed his hope that “euthanasia will never become the norm,” adding that “to make a person die of hunger and thirst is a terrible murder, comparable to torture.”