Cardinal joins with Florida bishops in statement on Schiavo case
Mar 21, 2005
The chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities joined with the Florida bishops March 9 in calling for the continuation of any medical treatment or care that could benefit Terri Schindler Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman who has been at the center of a legal battle over removal of the feeding tube that is keeping her alive.
WASHINGTON (CNS, Mar-10-2005 ) -- The statement from Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore came nine days before the court-imposed deadline for the woman to be taken off the tube.
Michael Schiavo -- who remains legally married to Terri Schiavo but now has two children with another woman -- says his wife would want the feeding tube removed. Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, say their daughter would want to live, in part because of her Catholic beliefs.
The cardinal said he, like the Florida bishops, prayed "that those who hold power over Terri Schindler Schiavo's fate will see that she 'continues to receive nourishment, comfort and loving care.'"
Cardinal Keeler quoted from Pope John Paul II's 2004 talk to a conference in Rome, in which the pope said even patients in a persistent vegetative state have "the right to basic health care (nutrition, hydration, cleanliness, warmth, etc.)."
The pope said it is "morally obligatory" to provide water and food, even by artificial means, "insofar as and until it is seen to have attained its proper finality, which in the present case consists in providing nourishment to the patient and alleviation of his suffering."
The cardinal said "there are times when even such basic means may cease to be morally obligatory because they have become useless or unduly burdensome for the patient."
"Deliberately to remove them in order to hasten a patient's death, however, would be a form of euthanasia, which is gravely wrong," he added.
Pinellas County Circuit Court Judge George W. Greer ruled Feb. 25 that Michael Schiavo could order doctors to remove the feeding tube at 1 p.m. March 18.
In January, the U.S. Supreme Court refused without comment to review a lower court decision overturning the Florida law that allowed Gov. Jeb Bush to order reinsertion of the woman's feeding tube when it was removed for six days in 2003.
Terri Schiavo, 41, has been impaired for the past 15 years. She can breathe on her own but requires nutrition and hydration through a feeding tube.
A resident of a nursing home in Pinellas Park, she has been receiving food and water through a feeding tube since 1990, when she collapsed at her home in St. Petersburg because of what doctors believe was a potassium imbalance. Her brain was deprived of oxygen for several minutes.