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