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FEBRUARY 24, 2005

At the Eleventh Hour

by Thomas A. Droleskey

The Gospel reading for Septuagesima Sunday (Mt. 20:1-16), which fell this year on January 16, 2005, concerned the parable of the vineyard owner who hired workers at different hours in the day to work his field. He paid each group of workers the same wage no matter how long they had worked during the day, including those who had worked only for an hour. This is a reminder to every Catholic that God will extend His ineffable mercy to all who seek it out in the Sacrament of Penance no matter how long they live after they are given sacramental absolution for their sins. The Lord desires the conversion of sins, not their death. He will reward those who have been faithful their entire lives and He will reward those who turn to Him with a truly repentant heart in the hospital of Divine Mercy that is the confessional just before they die. And those who have been faithful their entire lives are not to begrudge God's generosity to those who come in at the eleventh hour.

The intervention made by Renato Cardinal Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in behalf of Mrs. Terri Schindler-Schiavo has indeed come at the eleventh hour. Although Pope John Paul II, who was rushed to Gemelli Hospital in Rome earlier today for an emergency tracheotomy, last year reaffirmed the basic principle of Catholic moral theology that the provision of food and water was a basic right of human beings no matter their physical and/or mental condition, His Holiness never mentioned the name of Terri Schindler-Schiavo. This prompted this writer, among others, to plead with the Holy Father to do so now before yet another attempt is made by her faithless husband, Michael Schiavo, to starve her to death under terms of an unjust and immoral law on the statute books in the State of Florida. Hundreds upon thousands of people from around the world have been storming Heaven with prayers that Terri's shepherds speak her name publicly and unmistakably so as to let Michael Schiavo and his pro-euthanasia attorney, George Felos, and Judge George Greer know that the Holy See stands on the side of the absolute right of Terri Schindler-Schiavo to the provision of food and water. Cardinal Martino's unprecedented intervention for a patient in Terri Schindler-Schiavo's situation is quite welcomed and will certainly be of use to the family members who are fighting to save her life.

Michael Schiavo has little to rely on now other than his unsubstantiated claim that the wife to whom he has been unfaithful while she has received minimal care following the mysterious incident that caused her brain damage fifteen years ago tomorrow, February 25, would have wanted to have her feeding and hydration tubes removed. The Florida law itself is unjust and immoral. No human being has any right to give his or her consent to being starved and dehydrated to death, thus vitiating any desire on the part of Mrs. Schindler-Schiavo to have been so cruelly to put to death, if such a desire ever existed or was ever expressed.

Michael Schiavo would be hard put to demonstrate that Mrs. Schiavo would want to be starved and dehydrated to death if that meant going against the express teaching of the Catholic Church as reiterated last year by Pope John Paul and applied quite explicitly and without qualification in her own particular case at this moment. Mr. Schiavo can present zero evidence that his wife, even assuming (and it is quite an assumption to make given the fact that we have the word only of a man who has been unfaithful to his wife as she lay in a hospital bed and fathered children by another woman) an illicit desire on her part to be starved and dehydrated to death, would oppose Cardinal Martino's plea for her life, made in the context of stating clearly that God alone is the arbiter of life. Where is the evidence for that, Mr. Schiavo? Where is the evidence for that, Judge Greer? Mind you, such evidence would not make the removal of her feeding and hydration tubes moral. In the context of the flimsy "evidence" accepted by Judge Greer thus far, it can certainly be argued that Mrs. Schiavo would not have approved of going against the clear statement of Catholic teaching reiterated by the Pope last year and applied directly to her own case by Cardinal Martino this very day.

Michael Schiavo has said publicly that he "loves" his wife and that he is just trying fulfill her "wishes." Why does he insist on maintaining legal custody of her when she has parents who want to give her the love and medical attention that she has been denied these past fifteen years? Terri Schindler-Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, are willing to take custody of their daughter and to care for her. What is Mr. Schiavo afraid of? Is he afraid that Terri, like Sarah Scantlin in Kansas, will indeed regain her capacity to speak? Has he anything to fear from this if she does indeed regain this capacity as some have suggested in print and in investigative news stories? Why the insistence on executing a woman who others want to keep alive at their own expense? This is not love. This is diabolical. It is the devil himself who seeks to destroy people in the name of "love" while denying them the care that is absolute due.

While the Holy See has come to the assistance of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, her own local bishop, the Most Reverend Robert N. Lynch, the Bishop of Saint Petersburg, remains mute. Does he plead unconditionally for Terri's right to be fed and hydrated? Does he condemn Michael Schiavo's desire to remove her feeding and hydration tubes? Has he repudiated the pastoral letter of the Florida bishops' conference that said that the removal of such feeding and hydration tubes was indeed morally licit (depending upon the patient's ability to recover and the economic burden put on family members) since the Holy Father condemned it in no uncertain terms last year? Will Bishop Lynch echo Cardinal Martino's plea for Terri's life regardless of her ability to recover from the injuries to her brain? While Cardinal Martino's intervention is indeed welcomed, the fact that Bishop Robert Lynch was appointed a diocesan ordinary in the first place and has remained in office for so long to damage the Faith is itself a telling commentary on the corruption wrought by the ethos of conciliarism in the past forty years. Terri Schindler-Schiavo should be receiving the unconditional support of her local shepherd now, not silence from a man who has shown himself consistently to be a friend of modern theologians in the moral realm and revolutionary liturgists in the liturgical realm.

Continued prayers for Terri Schindler-Schiavo at this time are paramount. She has many in her own situation who lack anyone to fight for them. It is thus important for us to continue fervent in our prayers, especially in our Rosaries as consecrated slaves to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.

We pray also at this time, as we do at all times, for Pope John Paul II. His physical debility and the many trials to which he has been subjected in recent years are a simile for the weakness and debility that the Church in her human elements has suffered as a result of the ethos of conciliarism and all of its novelties. We pray to Saint Joseph, the Patron of the Universal Church and of the dying, especially if this is Pope John Paul II's final agony. And we pray to Saint Matthias on his feast day that all of the bishops, Successors of the Apostles, will exhibit his own fidelity to the Deposit Faith entrusted to the Church by the God-Man, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, rather than continue to imitate the betrayal of the one whose place in the episcopate he took, Judas Iscariot.

Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for Terri Schindler-Schiavo.

Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for Michael Schiavo.

Saint George, pray for George Greer and George Felos.

Saint Matthias, pray for the all of the Catholic bishops of the world.

Saint Robert Bellarmine, the fierce opponent of Luther and the Protestant Revolt, pray for Bishop Robert N. Lynch.





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