Completely and Totally Irrelevant
Thomas A. Droleskey
Yet another indignity has been heaped upon the late Theresa Marie Schindler-Schiavo and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Schindler, and her brother and sister. The report of the autopsy conducted on her mortal remains is full of conclusions that are completely and totally irrelevant to this simple precept of the Divine positive law and the natural law: Thou shalt not kill. It is never permissible to take any action that has at its own and immediate end the death of an innocent human being. Although the autopsy report stated that the cause of Mrs Schiavo's death was "undetermined," we know full well what caused her death on March 31, 2005: thirteen very long and painful days of starvation and dehydration.
The autopsy report alleges that Mrs. Schiavo's brain had atrophied and that she had gone blind. While no one disputes the fact that Mrs. Schiavo was a brain-damaged human being as a result of a still unexplained incident that occurred in February of 1990 (the report ruled out bulimia and anorexia, "causes" that had been commonly reported in the secular news media during the years leading to her court-ordered execution), the autopsy report gives no consideration to the cumulative damage to her brain and other vital organs caused by the three times she was denied food and water, including the final thirteen day period that resulted in her murder. Is it possible that Mrs. Schiavo lost her eyesight during that thirteen day period as great damage was being done to her entire body? The autopsy report only notes that she had lost her eyesight, never for a moment indicating that when this happened or giving even the slightest indication that it might have happened during the final thirteen days of her life. The report claims that the physical evidence confirms the diagnosis of a "persistent vegetative state" that had been made over and over again by court-appointed physicians, disregarding the fact that the Catholic Medical Association and other medical specialists in the field of brain-damage reject the claim that such a condition even exists. It is truly incomprehensible that no consideration was given in the autopsy report whatsoever to the damage done to Mrs. Schiavo's organs by the deprivation of food and water that she experienced in the final thirteen days of her life. Once again, the pro-death medical community has proved itself to be the ones suffering from brain-damage and blindness: spiritual brain-damage and spiritual blindness.
Even if all of the facts cited in the autopsy report are objectively true and even if the atrophying of Mrs. Schiavo's brain did not take place as a result of the effects of her being starved and dehydrated to death, those facts are completely and totally irrelevant to the fact that she remained a human being who had the right to basic care, including the administration of food and water. Mrs. Theresa Marie Schindler-Schiavo was a human being made in the image and likeness of the Blessed Trinity. She had been incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ that is Holy Mother Church at the moment of her baptism. Her body and soul had been nourished frequently by the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made Man, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. She remained a human being no matter what the condition of her brain or her ability to respond to others or her ability to recover from the traumatic incident she suffered in 1990. Mrs. Schiavo was not near death prior to the beginning of removal of food and water from her body on March 18, 2005. She was no nearer death than any one of us are, admitting that each beat of our hearts puts us that much closer to the moment of our Particular Judgments. The fact that it took thirteen long days to kill her indicates that she was a reasonably healthy human being who suffered from the "crime" of being disabled.
To admit that one can take measures to terminate the lives of people whose brain has been damaged and who appear to have no human chance for recovery is to admit that God's prohibition against the direct killing of innocent human beings may be violated in order to dispatch those who are deemed to have lost their "capacity" to "function fully" as interactive human beings. There are several words that can be used to describe this belief: utilitarian, Hitlerian, draconian, demonic.
As I have noted in previous commentaries on Mrs. Schiavo's case, the late Pope John Paul II spoke directly about the immorality of removing food and water from brain-damaged patients, reminding the Catholic world that such patients retain all of their humanity no matter their seeming inability to recover from their disabilities. Sadly, at least one traditional Catholic priest, albeit one who does not believe that there has been a pope since 1958, and the usual suspects of liberal and Modernist "ethicists" who teach at Catholic universities have ignored this plain reiteration of Catholic moral teaching, applied generally to the cases of all brain-damaged human beings. Thus, many ordinary Catholic lay men and women have been convinced that the specific sort of brain-damage suffered by a particular person and the "hopelessness" of his or her case are just factors that may be taken into consideration when determining whether to continue the provision of food and water. This confusion must be clarified for the sake of all that is right and just in the eyes of Our Lord, Who places the suffering and the disabled among us so that we might see His face in them and render unto them the care that we would give to Him were he to appear to us in the flesh.
Irreparable brain-damage as a justification for the removal of food and water? The alleged "impossibility" of recovery on the part of one whose brain has been damaged? Admit this and then it is a very easy thing for most stroke victims to be dispatched. After all, why should a person who has no hope of regaining his memory and/or the use of his limbs or the ability to speak or to feed himself without some level of assistance from others have his life extended indefinitely by providing him with food and water? Can't feed yourself? Just starve and dehydrate away to death. Not a "fully functional" human being who is able to interact with others? You have lost your worth as a human being. Suffering from Alzheimer's disease and have forgotten how to eat? We won't help you to eat. Your brain is atrophying. You are dying. Better that you die than we provide you with nourishment that will only "prolong" the "dying process."
This mentality is but an extension after birth of the pro-abortion mentality before birth. A hydrocephalous baby who is destined to die within minutes or hours after being born? By all means, the "merciful" thing to do is to "terminate" the pregnancy. A child diagnosed prenatally with Down's Syndrome? Ah, it is up to the parents to decide whether they want to bear the "burden" of caring for such a dependent being all of his life. It's their choice after all? It is an easy thing to deny the humanity of a human being after birth if it is admitted that such humanity may be denied before birth. Remember, one so-called medical expert told Wesley Smith, who is an expert in the field of both active and passive euthanasia, that Terri Schiavo had "ceased" to be a human being as a result of the brain-damage she suffered. This is exactly what Hillaire Belloc and Gilbert Keith Chesterton predicted would happen in their own day as a result of the illogic of social engineering. It is exactly what Dr. Charles E. Rice wrote about thirty-seven years ago in his prophetic The Vanishing Right to Live. That Catholics have accepted the representations of the pro-death medical community in cases that arises after birth demonstrates a woeful understanding of the importance of actively combating both contraception and abortion with all of the strength that can be provided by the graces won for us by Our Lord by the shedding of every single drop of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross.
No disciple of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ can turn away from one who is in need of food and water. The cross that each person is called upon to bear in life is perfectly fitted by Our Lord for that person and those around him. Those who suffer and are in need of assistance are sources of grace to those around them, not "burdens" to be discarded and thrown away by the invocation of false slogans ("compassion," "death with dignity," "respecting the wishes of a dying person," etc.). There is not one thing that any of us suffers in his own life or that is suffered by someone we love that is the equal of what one of our least venial sins caused Our Lord to suffer in His Sacred Humanity on the wood of the Holy Cross. Part of the way we save our souls is to serve others as we would serve Our Lord Himself, seeing His very impress in them and His own cross in their own sufferings. We have sanctifying grace and the intercessory help of the Blessed Mother, who suffered so valiantly at the foot of her Divine Son's Holy Cross as she saw the horrible toll that each one of our sins exacted on the Flesh He had taken from her flesh and the Most Precious Blood that had come from her own pure, undefiled blood, and all of the angels and the saints. Anyone who states that the sufferings of others are "burdensome" and too much for family members to bear is denying the Omniscience of God, Who has known from all eternity what crosses would come our way, and the sufficiency of His graces to bear our sufferings as consecrates slaves of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.
We do not base a human being's absolute and unswerving right to food and water on the basis of the state of his or her brain. We feed and give water to others until God decides to take them home to Himself, not until we believe that the "time" is right as a result of the seeming "hopelessness" of a particular case. The seeming hopelessness of a physical recovery of someone might just be the path by someone who has not prayed in years can find his way back to the practice of the Holy Faith and to become a devoted adorer of Our Lord in His Real Presence and a true son of Mary, practicing the True Devotion to Mary promoted by Saint Louis de Montfort.
Unfortunately, even some Traditional Catholics have lost sight of the fact that it is important to defend the inviolability of innocent human life. The inviolability of human life is not an ultimate end. Each of us is going to die. We are not required to take extraordinary means to preserve life (as I have noted endlessly on this cite, providing examples to illustrate the point) and we may be required to voluntarily surrender our physical lives in defense of the Faith or our family members. However, we cannot turn a blind eye to the worldwide Holocaust of the preborn, both by means of chemical and surgical abortions, and the growing menace posed by the practice of both active and passive euthanasia just because there are spiritual abortions taking place in every Catholic diocese in the world. We cannot stand aside as our brothers and sisters are being murdered just because there are indeed grave offenses taking place against Our Lord and the Deposit of Faith He entrusted to His true Church at the hands of bishops and priests and theologians.
Although there will indeed be no ultimate amelioration of the problems we face in the world until the problems in the Church are ameliorated by the restoration of the Traditional Latin Mass and the recapturing of her perennial teaching without the equivocation and ambiguity of the past forty-plus years as the fruit of the Triumph of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, we are indeed called upon to do what we can, both in prayer and in action, to help those innocent human beings whose physical lives are being threatened in a wicked, demonic age. We must denounce falsehood and error. Indeed. We must denounce a liturgy that renders less honor and glory unto God. Absolutely. We must also have a heart, formed by the perfect love that exists between the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that sees in others the impress of Our Lord Himself and never counts the cost of giving as much love and care and service as is required to do unto others as we would do unto the Divine Redeemer Himself.
Do not be fooled by autopsy reports and scientific "evidence." Theresa Marie Schindler-Schiavo was a child of God. She was murdered. We must learn to accept that the handicapped and the disabled and the in firmed and the elderly are gifts given us by God to help us give Him honor and glory and to help us to sanctify and to save our souls. We must keep close to Our Lady so that we will give to others what she gives to us at all times: a love that keeps loving now, and at the hour of our deaths.
Our Lady Help of Christians, pray for us.
Saints Cosmas and Damian, pray for us.