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March 31, 2005

Another Victim of Modernity and Modernism

by Thomas A. Droleskey

Valiant efforts were made by large numbers of people to save the life of Mrs. Theresa Marie Schindler-Schiavo from being ended this morning, March 31, 2005, under cover of law by means of the state-sponsored and authorized removal of her hydration and nutrition tubes. Terri’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, exhausted all of their personal savings and went heavily into debt to try to save their daughter’s life. Their attorneys over the years spent a great deal of time and energy to muster the legal arguments in state and Federal courts to remove Terri’s adulterous husband, Michael Schiavo, as the guardian who had the legal right to use an unjust and immoral Florida law to starve and dehydrate Terri to death. Countless numbers of pro-life expended efforts in behalf of Terri Schindler-Schiavo. And this is to say nothing of the millions of people around the world who prayed and prayed and prayed, both before the Blessed Sacrament and to the Mother of God in her Most Holy Rosary, for the saving of Terri’s life.

Tragically, the efforts to save Terri Schinder-Schiavo’s life were made necessary by the little victories the Devil has won quite incrementally over the centuries since the overthrowing of the Social Reign of Christ the King and the rise of the secular, religiously indifferentist, anti-Catholic world of Modernity. As I have noted in a number of articles and lectures over the course of the past fifteen years, it is precisely the de-Catholicization of the world that is responsible for all of the social evils we face today, including contraception and abortion and euthanasia. And it is the insidious infiltration of the evils of Modernity, identified so clearly by Pope Saint Pius X as Modernism in the Church, into the very liturgy and pastoral practice of the true Church that has made these problems all the more intractable. There is no secular, religiously indifferentist way to fight the evils caused by Protestantism, secular political ideologies, and religious indifferentism. We can only fight the evils of modernity with Catholicism, which is why all of the noble legal efforts to save Terri Schindler-Schiavo’s life were, practically speaking, doomed from the start. A world that has rejected the primacy of Christ the King and the authority of His true Church in matters of fundamental justice is one where justice will be perverted on a regular basis. Reason and logic are among the first casualties in such a world. It is thus important to put this terrible tragedy into proper focus.

First, there would have been no controversy concerning the fate of Terri Schindler-Schiavo if we lived in a Catholic world. The Florida State Legislature would never have passed legislation permitting a husband or other “legal guardian” to petition a court to remove hydration and feeding tubes from brain-damaged and/or comatose patients unable to speak for themselves. Legislators in a Catholic world would understand that no human institution has any authority pass legislation or to permit any policy that contravenes the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law. A bill that proposed to permit the starvation and dehydration of a human being would be viewed as an anathema that could not even be considered for passage in a Catholic world. And Catholic bishops would denounce with great firmness any legislator who even thought about introducing such an immoral piece of legislation. Thus, the very piece of legislation that caused the murder of Theresa Marie Schindler-Schiavo would have been unthinkable in a Catholic world. It would be understood as a given that no individual has the right to dispose of his or her life and that no human institution has the authority to grant such an nonexistent right to others over the welfare and very existence of relatives.

Second, spouses in a Catholic world would take seriously the fact the Sacrament of Matrimony makes present all of the sufficient graces necessary to deal with whatever crosses they are asked to bear during the course of their married lives. They would willingly and readily give love to the one to whom they are wedded in Christ when they are unable to care for themselves. They would see the suffering face of Christ Himself in their suffering spouses. They would see the love and sacrifice they made in times of the suffering of their spouses as nothing in comparison to the reward that awaits them in eternity for their faithful and selfless devotion to their suffering spouse in Christ. Indeed, they would see in their suffering spouses their own path to sanctity, their own path to Heaven, offering all without a moment’s hesitation as consecrated slaves of Our Lady’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. There would be few actual instances of abandonment or infidelity in the cases of incapacitated spouses, worse yet of plots to use the civil law to effect the starvation and dehydration of a spouse unto an unspeakably cruel death.

Third, if, however, a married person fell into infidelity at a time of his spouse’s incapacitation and/or did not do everything he was obligated to do to effect his or her recovery, then the civil state in a Catholic world would have the right to intervene to depose the wayward husband or wife as the legal guardian of his or her spouse. Judges serving on civil courts, whose courtrooms would be adorned with Crucifixes, would see it as their duty to protect innocent life, not to put such life to death under cover of unjust and immoral laws. Delinquent, negligent, abusive spouses would be sent to jail, not given free rein to misuse funds won in a malpractice suit to kill the ones to whom they have pledged to serve whether in sickness or in health unto natural death do them part. And attorneys who contended that the civil law and the civil courts could be used to put innocent lives to death in the name of “compassion” and “mercy” would be disbarred as menaces to the common good and put in jail themselves.

Fourth, the Church herself would provide a consistent and clear voice in defense of the innocent whose lives are imperiled during times of incapacitation and/or chronic illnesses. The Church would not give conflicting signals, as happened with the Most Reverend Robert Lynch, the Bishop of Saint Petersburg, who said in August and October of 2003 that there were circumstances in which feeding and hydration tubes could be removed licitly and who never once acknowledged that he had been contradicted by Pope John Paul II in March of 2004. The Church herself would recognize that Mrs. Schiavo’s right to life was absolute and inviolable, that her right to nutrition and hydration did not depend upon her ability to recover or to feed herself. The Church would have reprimanded quite publicly Michael Schiavo and denounced his adultery and his misuse of the funds awarded for Terri’s medical care and rehabilitation. The Church would have joined quite actively in legal efforts to defend Terri’s life, reminding judges of their duty to enforce the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law, going so far as to threaten Catholic jurists with excommunication if they failed to enforce those precepts.

Yes, we do not live in such a world. We live in a world where good people are forced to play the Devil’s games in his institutions, trying to find ways to convince secularists and positivists and relativists to do justice. The world is the way it is. Just as Saint Paul tried to use the Roman law to his advantage—and just as St. Thomas More tried to use English law and due process to his advantage, we must try to use the levers available to us in situations where innocent lives are imperiled. There are times when such efforts will be successful. There are times, such as the Terri Schiavo case, when they will fail. Those of us who are consecrated to Our Lady’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart knows that she uses all of the efforts we offer her to serve the suffering Christ we see in others. No prayer is ever wasted. No effort we ever expend in behalf of tradition and truth is in vain. God sees all. He uses all. Those who worked so hard for Terri, supported as they were by the prayers of so many millions of people, have borne a visible, tangible witness to the fact that the horror of unjust laws and civil institutions will not deter believing Catholics from standing up for the primacy of God’s laws as the basis of all social order.

That having been noted, however, it is important for those of us who don’t have to battle in the Devil’s courtrooms to face our situation clearly as Catholics, understanding that these problems are here to stay until such time as the Church herself recaptures the voice of tradition and champions the right of the Social Reign of Christ the King. There was never any debate to be had on this subject. One person wrote to me to say that he wanted to see where the “debate” on this matter “went.” Excuse me, this is not a debatable subject. Catholics are not supposed to be Hegelians who seek to engage in a dialectic as a means of “discovering” truth. All we ever had to do was to apply the basic principles of Catholic moral teaching found in the Deposit of Faith and in the very nature of things to the concrete circumstances of Mrs. Schiavo’s case:

1) The provision of food and water is ordinary care no matter how it is delivered to a human being.

2) The provision of food and water is not medical care; it is not medical treatment.

3) The Fifth Commandment prohibits any the undertaking of any action that has as its only and immediate end the death of an innocent human being. This case has never been about Mrs. Schiavo's "wishes." This case has always been about the faithful fulfillment of the Fifth Commandment and the loving administration of the Corporal Works of Mercy. No one has any right to starve dehydrate himself to death or to delegate to another to do so if he becomes incapacitated at some point. Any civil law that confers such a "right" is null and void as it attempts to contravene the immutable law of God.

4) The specific condition of Mrs. Schiavo (her consciousness or alleged lack thereof, her ability to recover) was absolutely and totally irrelevant to her unconditional right to the provision of food and water. While it was certainly important to point out that Mrs. Schiavo was not in the “persistent vegetative state” that so many doctors had asserted as being the case (and that Michael Schiavo had deprived her of the therapy that might have improved her condition over time), she would have been entitled to food and water if she had been in an irreversible coma.

5) As I have noted on a number of other occasions in the past six weeks, Mrs. Schiavo was no more “kept alive” by the tubes that delivered food and water to her than any of us are when we eat and drink. She was no more near death than any one of us prior to the removal of her feeding and hydration tubes on March 18, 2005, the Feast of the Seven Dolors of Our Lady in the calendar of Tradition, which started the process of her long, drawn-out and cruel death. Her death is one that would have been deemed unconstitutional to have imposed on a person convicted of a capital crime and sentence to the death penalty.

6) The choice of specific, elective medical care, as opposed to the provision of mandatory ordinary care, to sustain one’s life is a decision that is made by a patient and/or his relatives according to a variety of variable factors. A thirty year old man may with a family to support may have a positive obligation to undergo some kind of treatment to combat an aggressive cancer whereas a single man of the same age might, after spiritual direction from an authentic Catholic priest, forego such treatment. Similarly, an eighty year old man might refuse heart bypass surgery to let nature take its course, preparing assiduously for the moment of his own Particular Judgment. These are decisions to be made in consultation with an authentically Catholic priest and after prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and to the Mother of God.

7) The removal of truly extraordinary medical means to sustain the involuntary functions of one’s body does not involve a directly willed intent to kill oneself or another. The removal of a respirator, for example, may or may not result in the death of a particular person. The body might be able to start breathing on its own. The death of such a patient, though, is the unintended but foreseen consequence of removing artificial assistance to the continuation of an involuntary bodily function. This is the Catholic moral principle known as the double (or two-fold) effect. Said removal of an artificial life-sustaining device can only take place, as Father Lawrence C. Smith noted on this site a few days ago, after a Catholic who is conscious has made a good confession of his sins and received the Sacrament of Extreme Unction and Holy Communion (and after one who is not conscious has received the Sacrament of Extreme Unction and, if possible, Holy Communion as a Final Viaticum).

Once again, the fact that not even most of the Catholics who spoke or wrote on this issue addressed these simple matters of Catholic truth is one of the telling signs of the influences of Modernism in the human elements of the Church today. Indeed, Pope John Paul II, who had a nasal feeding tube inserted as Mrs. Schiavo entered her twelfth day of starvation and dehydration, was such a prisoner of the conciliar novelty of Episcopal Collegiality that he could let his own name be used to condemn the murder of Mrs. Schiavo. Renato Cardinal Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, did so, as did Bishop Elio Sgreccia, the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life. No one close to the Holy Father permitted the name of the Successor of Saint Peter to be used as an innocent human being was put to death under cover of law here in the United States of America, quite a contrast to what might have happened if the State of Florida was about to execute a convicted felon for a capital offense.

Sadly, the Holy Father remained silent in 2005 about the plight of Mrs. Theresa Marie Schindler-Schiavo as he had in 1998 when Hugh Finn was murdered under cover of law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Pope could not contradict Bishop Robert N. Lynch by pointing specifically to Mrs. Schiavo’s case even though he had condemned the removal of food and water from patients in conditions such as hers just as he could not contradict Louisville Archbishop Thomas Kelly and Richmond, Virginia, Bishop Walter Sullivan in 1998 as they publicly supported Mrs. Michele Finn’s legal battle to starve and dehydrate her brain-damaged husband to death. As I noted in “Enemies of Christ in Shepherds’ Clothing,” a papal condemnation of Bishop Lynch’s diffidence about the plight of Mrs. Schiavo and his refusal to stand by her side and his refusal even repudiate the actions of her estranged husband as murderous would open up a veritable Pandora’s Box full of problems. After all, the only reason that Mrs. Schiavo’s case made headlines was that she had relatives who wanted to save her. Scores more die every day in hospitals around this country, including Catholic hospitals, because no one objects to their having been starved and dehydrated to death.

Catholic bishops and priests should have been in the vanguard of those praying for Mrs. Schiavo outside of Woodside Hospice. Instead of making it appear, as Bishop Lynch did on February 28, 2005, that there was a "decision" to be made and that it belonged to Michael Schiavo, the ordinary of the Diocese of Saint Petersburg should have been a vocal and relentless advocate of Mrs. Schiavo's absolute right to the provision of food and water. Alas, as I noted in "A Revolutionary to the Core," one who has done "holy war" with Rome over the "proper implementation" of the liturgical revolution (the ecclesiastical equivalent of the battle between Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin), does not think in terms of the authentic patrimony of the Catholic Faith. The fact that he was appointed a diocesan bishop at all is a scandal, to say nothing of the idiocy of Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., who said on national television on Easter Sunday that he wished it had been possible to "know" for sure what Mrs. Schiavo's "wishes" on this matter had been. Your Eminence, as was noted earlier in this commentary, this case is about God's law, not about Mrs. Schiavo's "wishes." And we wait in vain for Bishop William Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, to repudiate the late Bishop John Raymond McGann's 1996 pastoral letter that said, in total contradiction to what the Holy Father stated in 2004, the withdrawal and food and water could be morally justified.

Yes, Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life and Father Thomas Eutenauer of Human Life International were present frequently with the Schindlers. So were Monsignor Thaddeus Malanowski and Father Raymond Vega, both of whom are retired priests of the Diocese of Saint Petersburg. Priests from different parts of Florida and the nation made the pilgrimage to Woodside Hospice to pray for Mrs. Schiavo as she was being murdered under cover of law. This Catholic witness was very important and should not be minimized in the slightest.

However, the absence of Bishop Robert N. Lynch and most of the priests of the Diocese of Saint Petersburg from the front lines of the battle to save Mrs. Schiavo's life opened up the path for well-meaning Protestants to defend truth in this situation. The descendants of those who revolution against the true Church helped to create the horrors of the Modern world thus became the most visible defenders of Mrs. Schiavo while the local shepherds of Christ's true Church, steeped in the errors that have flowing in the world since the Sixteenth Century, were largely (although not entirely) absent. The fact that alleged Catholic "experts" and ethicists at institutions claiming to have a Catholic "identity" could appear on national television to defend the murder of Mrs. Schiavo and not risk their teaching positions (and/or their "good standing" as Catholics in the Church) is another telling commentary on the depth to which the liturgical and doctrinal revolutions of the past fifty years have taken us in the human elements of the Church. Why should a non-believer who has received graces from Our Lady to see part of her Divine Son's truth clearly be inspired to enter the true Church founded by Our Lord upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope, when Catholic "experts" and bishops and even cardinal archbishops do not speak with the one Mind of Christ Himself as He has deposited It in Holy Mother Church?

There will be time to review the cowardice of President George W. Bush and Florida Governor Jeb Bush, both of whom were paralyzed by alleged concern for the “rule of law” as God’s laws were being perverted by a probate judge, whose twisted decisions were upheld by a veritable parade of State and Federal judges. Indeed, the statement made by President Bush this morning, March 31, 2005, was so typically ambiguous, never once stating that the withdrawal of food and water is an inherent evil in all circumstances and must be stopped immediately:

Today millions of Americans are saddened by the death of Terri Schiavo. Laura and I extend our condolences to Terri Schiavo's families. I appreciate the example of grace and dignity they have displayed at a difficult time. I urge all those who honor Terri Schiavo to continue to work to build a culture of life, where all Americans are welcomed and valued and protected, especially those who live at the mercy of others. The essence of civilization is that the strong have a duty to protect the weak. In cases where there are serious doubts and questions, the presumption should be in the favor of life.

Well, he did not protect the weak in this instance. He does nothing to protect the innocent unborn. Remember, approximately 52,000 children were killed by means of surgical abortion alone in this country during the nearly thirteen days that it took for Mrs. Schiavo to be murdered by means of state-sponsored starvation and dehydration. Oh, the President's defenders will say that he had to observe "the rule of law" and the precepts of Federalism. This was never about Federalism or states' rights, as I will amplify in a subsequent commentary in the next few days. This was about the rule of God's law and the obligations imposed upon those who possess civil authority to act accordingly (see Immortale Dei and Sapientiae Christianae) Alas, the dictates of Pluralism, one of the chief tools of Modernity and Modernism, demand that deference be made to the artificial constructs and paradigms of men, the American founding fathers, who rejected in se the Deposit of Faith and the sacramental system Our Lord entrusted to His true Church as essential to the right ordering of men and their nations.

The real responsibility, though, for the murder of Mrs. Schiavo rests with the Church’s unwillingness to seek the restoration of the Social Reign of Christ the King and of Mary our Immaculate Queen as the only antidote to the poisons of Modernity in the world and her consigning of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition to the Orwellian memory hole, thus advancing Modernism in the Church with a synthetic concoction that enshrines the very spirit of Modernity itself. Bishop Robert Lynch is but a product of the revolution that the Pope himself helped to plan at the Second Vatican Council and further institutionalized during his pontificate. All of the Pope’s generalized pleas for the restoration of legal protection for innocent human life have been undermined by his rejection of the Church’s authentic patrimony as the only foundation of personal happiness and hence all social order.

Some pope is going to have to rediscover the wisdom contained in such encyclical letters as Pope Pius XI’s Quas Primas issued in 1925:

We may well admire in this wonderful wisdom of the Providence of God, Who, ever bringing good out of evil, has from time to time suffered the faith and piety of men to grow weak, and allowed Catholic truth to be attacked by false doctrines, but always with the result that truth has afterwards shone out with greater splendor, and that men’s faith, aroused from its lethargy, has shown itself more vigorous than before . . . . But if the faithful were generally to understand that it behooves them ever to fight courageously under the banner of Christ their King, then, fired with apostolic zeal, they would strive to win over to their Lord those hearts that are bitter and estranged from Him, and would valiantly defend His rights.

Building on that theme, this writer noted at a Communion breakfast in New York City on the Traditional Feast of Christ King in 1994:

Christ’s reign in our own hearts must be renewed every day. Every choice we make either moves us closer toward Christ–or farther away from Him. Similarly, His Social Reign must be renewed day in and day out. We must recognize His Sovereignty at all times and in all circumstances. We must insist that our laws and politics reflect His unchanging teaching. But we can only do that if we counter Him as Our Lord and King in the sublime mystery of Holy Mass. And it is only the Mass of our fathers that faithfully communicates this Kingship.

The restoration of right order in the world depends upon the restoration upon the right worship of God and right doctrine in the true Church. And it is the Immemorial Mass of Tradition that is the sine qua non to protect the rights of Christ the King as the fundamental precondition to protect the rights of the victims of Modernity in the world and Modernism in the Church, including Terri Schindler- Schiavo. We need to pray, therefore, that some pope will actually consecrate Russia to Our Lady’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, providing us with what Our Lady herself said would be an era of peace, the likes of which only an insane person would say is upon us at present.

We offer our heartfelt condolences to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Schindler, to their surviving daughter and their son–and to all of those many valiant people who kept Our Lady company as she herself stood by Theresa Marie Schindler-Schiavo’s passion and death in the Golgotha known as Woodside Hospice. While we must pray for Mrs. Schiavo’s soul, knowing that she will be praying for the conversion of all those responsible in some way or another, either directly or by acts of indifference or omission, for her murder, we can be reasonably assured that a victim-soul such as herself who received the Last Rites of the Catholic Church will be received in short order into the loving arms of Our Lady and presented before the Blessed Trinity in radiant beauty.

Requiem aeternam dona Theresa Marie Schindler-Schiavo. Domine, et lux perpetua luceat Theresa. Animae eorum, et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum per misericordiam Dei requiescant in pace. Eternal rest grant unto Theresa Marie Schindler-Schaivo, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon Theresa. May her soul--and all of the souls of the faithful departed--rest in peace. Amen.

Quaesumus Domine, pro tua pietate miserere animae famulae tuae Theresa: et a contagalis mortalitatis exutam, in aeternae salvationis partem restitue. Per Dominum. We beseech Thee, O Lord, that of Thy loving kindness Thou have mercy on the soul of Thy handmaid, Theresa, free her from the defilements of this mortal life, and number her forevermore among the saved. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, who livest and reignest with Thee and the Holy Ghost, world without end, Amen.

Viva Cristo Rey!


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