Thomas A. Droleskey
The long legal
battle to save the life of Mrs. Terri Schindler-Schiavo has reached
yet another critical stage. Those who are militating for the removal
of Mrs. Schiavo's feeding and hydration tubes believe that they have
cleared most of the legal obstacles that had been placed in their path
for so long now. Finally, these unfortunate people believe, Mrs. Schiavo's
life can be ended within the near future. The "fanatics" who
have kept Terri Schindler-Schiavo alive will have been defeated and
"progress" and "the right to die" will have won
the day once again.
This is what I wrote
on this matter on this site seven months ago:
see, the moral principle in all of this is very clear: it is never permissible
to take any direct action that has as its only end the death of an innocent
human being. Starvation and dehydration lead to death, inevitably and
inexorably. Food and water are basic human needs, no matter how they
are delivered. "Whatsoever you do to the least of My brethren, that
you do unto Me." We must see the suffering Christ in those who are disabled,
those who are as dependent upon others following an accident or an illness
as newborn children are after birth. Eating and drinking are voluntary
activities that sometimes need the assistance of others.
The removal of food and water, which are ordinary means to sustain human
life, is different than the removal of an artificial respirator or the
refusal of a patient to undertake or to continue dialysis or chemotherapy.
The removal of an artificial respirator, which is sustaining life artificially,
may or may not result in the death of one who is connected to it. There
are instances aplenty in which those who have been disconnected from
respirators have survived; some have even emerged from comatose states.
Breathing is an involuntary human function. If the body is unable to
breathe on its own, no one is under any moral obligation to continue
such an involuntary function. Thus, the end of the removal of a respirator
is to permit a person's bodily functions to operate on their own without
artificial assistance. The result may or may not be death, which is
not willed as the first end of the act. It is a possible indirect
but foreseen consequence of the first end, which is to let a body operate
on its own powers.
Similarly, one has the right to refuse dialysis or chemotherapy. One
is under no obligation to sustain life as an ultimate end in and of
itself. There are qualifications, though, that have to be made in these
instances. A young man with a family to support may have to at least
consider such forms of treatment, seeking out the assistance of a solid
spiritual director to guide him in the decision he makes. One who is
in his sixties or seventies or eighties or beyond certainly has the
right to let nature takes its course in cases of chronic or terminal
illnesses, offering up his crosses to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart
of Mary to unite them to the Cross of the Divine Redeemer Himself. God
could choose to cure them miraculously. Indeed, I know of one such case
within the past year. Refusing treatment to let nature take its course
or to pray for a miraculous cure is far different morally than taking
positive, concrete measures, such as the removal of food and water,
that can result in only one outcome: death, which can never be directly
willed under any circumstances.
In order to summarize the governing
moral principles in cases such as Terri Schindler-Schiavo, it is important
to remember the following:
The Florida statute permitting the starvation
and dehydration of incapacitated persons is immoral and unjust.
Every pro-life American must seek the permanent repeal of such legislation.
No human being has any right found in the Divine
positive law or the natural law to starve or dehydrate himself to
No human being has any right found in the Divine
positive law or the natural law to delegate to others the power
of starving or dehydrating himself to death.
No human institution, such as a legislature or
a court, has the authority to pass or to enforce legislation contrary
to the Divine positive law and the natural law.
Terri Schindler-Schiavo's absolute right to live
did not and does not depend upon her ability to react to others
or to feed herself. Her right to food and water is absolute and
cannot be violated. The fact that Terri Schindler-Schiavo does react
to others and might be capable of feeding herself if she had been
given the therapy for which over a million dollars was awarded to
her faithless husband speaks volumes about the extent to which those
seeking Terri's murder went to extinguish her life by claiming things
that were not so and were irrelevant to her absolute right to food
and water. Food and water are not medical treatment, no matter how
they are administered.
The case of
Terri Schindler-Schiavo has attracted attention because she has family
members who love her unto eternity and who want to defend her right
to food and water to sustain her life. There are countless more victims
of the culture of physical and eternal death in this country who are
being put to death in hospitals because no one in their families objects
to their being starved and dehydrated. Each of these victims have been
put to death because of the triumph of the vicious logic of sentimentality
as a replacement for the authentic mercy and compassion found in nations
where Christ reigns as King and Mary is honored as Queen. What I noted
in March of this year needs to be repeated now in light of the continued
advances of the forces of death marching against Terri Schindler-Schiavo:
of the crimes against the inviolability of innocent human life are the
direct result of the overthrow of the Social Reign of Christ the King
and its replacement with the modern, secular, religiously indifferentist
nation-state. There is no lowest common denominator with which to fight
the evils that have their origin in the rejection of Our Lord and the
Deposit of Faith He has entrusted to His true Church. It is one of the
great tragedies of the past forty years that the Church herself has
accepted the modern state as something beyond question and that is considered
"triumphalistic" even to make advertence to the Social Reign of Christ
the King. Thus, the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, who is very concerned
about crimes against innocent life and issued a strong statement about
the morally illicit nature of the removal of food and water from patients
in Mrs. Schiavo's circumstances, winds up as the prisoner of the very
paradigm with which the Church has made an ill-advised accommodation.
Some pope, therefore, is going to have to say that it is impossible
to fight secularism and all of its multifaceted evils with secularism
and Masonic talk of "brotherhood" and a "civilization of love." Some
pope is going to have to say that we can only fight secularism with
If one looks at the matter through the eyes of the true Faith, he will
see that the crimes against innocent life that are taken for granted
by most people as "human rights" beyond question are really crimes against
the Incarnation of the Word Who was made Flesh in Our Lady's virginal
and immaculate womb and dwelt amongst us. Our Lord chose to become man
as a helpless embryo in the tabernacle of Our Lady's immaculate womb.
He was teaching us from the moment that St. Gabriel the Archangel announced
to His Most Blessed Mother that she would conceive a Child by the power
of the Holy Ghost. And one of the things Our Lord was teaching us from
the moment of the Incarnation was that He became helpless so as to remind
us that we must see Him in the helpless around us. We must be as ready
to serve Him in others, especially those who depend upon us for their
basic needs, as Our Lady was to do the will of the Father at the Annunciation.
The Traditional Latin Mass concludes (with exceptions here and there
during the course of a year) with the reading of the Prologue to Saint
John's Gospel. The Church in her wisdom placed this Gospel following
the dismissal and final blessing in order to remind the faithful that
the Incarnation changed everything about human existence. The Mass itself
is incarnational: the God-Man becomes incarnate under the appearances
of bread and wine. We are thus to be mindful of our need to subordinate
everything in our own lives and in the larger life of the world around
us to the fact that the Word became Flesh and dwelt amongst us so as
to redeem us on the Wood of the Holy Cross. The Church herself must
come to understand once more that unless this central fact of salvation
is presented firmly and unequivocally then she will always be fighting
a rear-guard effort to oppose crimes against life, both natural and
supernatural, that emanate from a rejection of her Divinely given authority
to proclaim the Word and to discipline men and nations authoritatively
in His Holy Name.
With continued prayers for Terri Schindler Schiavo and all those in
circumstances similar to hers, we implore the intercession of Our Lady
Help of Christians so that the relatives of disabled persons will provide
love and support in the midst of the suffering of their loved ones,
uniting the sacrifices made thereby to the Cross of the Divine Redeemer
through her own Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.
will be some who rejoice if the continuing court battles go against
Mrs. Schiavo's right to live. There will be some who rejoice when she
takes her bodily life's last gasp. What these sad, unfortunate, misguided
people do not realize is that Mrs. Terri Schindler-Schiavo, who has
lived the life of a victim-soul, will be praying for them from eternity
so that they will repent of their crimes and will be, at least by the
time they take their own last breaths, members of the One, Holy, Catholic
and Apostolic Church that is mankind's only guardian against the barbarism
that took her own life in a world where the devil is king and evil is
extolled as a virtue.
Lady, Help of Christians, pray for Terri Schindler-Schiavo.
Christopher, worker of miracles, pray for the conversion of those seeking
to murder Terri Schindler-Schiavo and all of those in like circumstances.