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March 22, 2005

No Complexity At All

by Thomas A. Droleskey

The battle to save the life of Mrs. Terri Schindler-Schiavo as she enters a fifth day of being starved and dehydrated to death is entering its climatic stages. A Federal District Court Judge, James Whittemore, has refused to order the reinsertion of the food and hydration tubes that were removed from Mrs. Schiavo on the feast of the Seven Dolors of Our Lady, March 18, 2005. Attorneys for Mr. and Mrs. Robert Schindler, Terri's parents, have appealed this latest judicial imitation of Nazi Germany to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which is located in Atlanta, Georgia. A prayer vigil is being maintained in front of Woodspice Hospice in Pinellas Park, Florida, as Terri suffers her Holy Week agony.

While I gave credit a few days ago to Congressional Republicans and to President George W. Bush for pushing through and signing, respectively, the bill that was passed shortly after Midnight yesterday that gave the Schindlers access to the Federal courts to seek the reinstatement of their daughter's nutrition and hydration, I noted also:

The forces that have been at work in seeking the destruction of the life of Mrs. Terri Schindler-Schiavo are not going to stopped ultimately by legislative strategies or by court decisions. The only antidote to the poisons that are spreading so rapidly through the veins of our national life is the consecration of Russia by a pope with all of the world's bishops and thus the subsequent conversion of the whole world, including the United States of America, to the true Faith. In the meantime, though, we must try to do those things that we can without compromising the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law to save individual lives and to limit the harm of the errors of Russia, which are really the errors of Modernity in the world and Modernism in the Church. The legislation to be passed by the House and signed into law by President Bush today is one such limited measure that might (emphasis on might) result in justice finally being done in the case of the victim-soul, Mrs. Terri Schindler-Schiavo.

Sadly, President Bush, who did indeed do the right thing in signing the legislation yesterday morning, reverted to form later in the day, glancing at the "talking points" prepared for him while addressing a crowd in Tucson, Arizona, saying that Mrs. Schiavo's case was "complex" but that in "matters of this sort we should always err on the side of life." No, Mr. President, there is nothing complex about this issue at all. There is nothing complex about God. One of the essences of God is simplicity. His truths are simple. "Do this, don't do that." The binding precepts of the Fifth Commandment prohibit any action which has as its direct and immediate end the death of an innocent human being. The starvation and dehydration of a human being is always wrong. Any civil law that authorizes such starvation and dehydration is unjust and immoral. President Bush and his brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, should be calling for the immediate and permanent repeal of all such laws wherever they exist in the United States of America.

Alas, a man, President Bush, who believes that the country is not "ready" to reverse Roe v. Wade is not going to spend any political capital on attempting to reverse laws permitting the starvation and dehydration of human beings that he has never said are wrong. Remember, President Bush believes that the law should permit baby-killing in certain cases. He is not unconditionally pro-life, only less pro-abortion than those who support baby-killing under cover of law without any restrictions. He is personally responsible for the daily execution of thousands upon thousands of innocent human beings by means of the chemical abortifacients whose funding his administration supports and whose distribution his administration spreads in this country and throughout the world. He supports "limited" stem cell research and has termed "in vitro" fertilization to be a necessary help to infertile couples. It is thus neither shocking nor surprising that a man with such a limited grasp of moral truth will take a baby step to save Terri Schiavo's life while attempting several hours later to protest that the issue of saving her life is complex. Such is the illogic of Protestantism.

President Bush has said repeatedly over the years that abortion itself is a "difficult" issue about which "good people" may legitimately disagree, something he would never say about racism or anti-Semitism. He would never appoint racists or people tainted by the whiff of anti-Semitism to any position in his administration, no less campaign actively for them as candidates for public office. Baby-killing? Just a matter of "opinion" on a "difficult" issue that should not keep people of "good will" from working together. Thus, President Bush has said that his administration will have no new initiatives to stop abortion, meaning as well that he is not going to issue an Executive Order to save Terri Schindler-Schiavo's life. He took his baby step. It's now time for his spokesman, Scott McClellan, to play the role of Pontius Pilate and to say that there is no more that the administration can do in this instance.

Alas there are further things that President Bush can do. Terri Schindler-Schiavo has been called to testify as a witness before committees of the United States Congress. He can take her into Federal protective custody. Consider this press release from the Catholic Media Coalition:

The Catholic Media Coalition calls on President George Bush and Florida Governor Jeb Bush to take Terri Schiavo into immediate federal and/or state protective custody and have her feeding tube reinserted. As a witness subpoenaed by Congress and as an individual whose civil rights have been violated, Terri has a right to federal protection. The Department of Justice and the Attorney General of Florida must vigorously investigate criminal violations under laws protecting the rights of the disabled. Federal and state laws both preclude mercy killing or euthanasia including “any affirmative or deliberate act or omission to end life other than to permit the natural process of dying.” ( Florida Statute 765.309 (1)). Terri does not have a terminal illness and is not in persistent vegetative state (PVS), a condition commonly misdiagnosed. It is likely she can take food and water by mouth and she was, in fact, doing so before Michael Schiavo, her abusive guardian, banned oral feeding. The deliberate starvation and dehydration of a woman who is not otherwise dying constitutes premeditated murder. Since Michael Schiavo is in a bigamous common-law marriage his rights as guardian should be suspended immediately.

“We deplore the court-ordered execution of Terri Schiavo,” said Mary Ann Kreitzer CMC President. “The Governor of Florida is the chief law enforcement officer of the state. President Bush is the chief law enforcement officer of the country. A judge may not nullify state and federal laws that protect the right to life of citizens. These two men have the authority and the obligation to protect Terri from an activist judiciary determined to kill  her . If Terri is dehydrated to death, no incapacitated citizen in the United States will be safe. We ask President Bush to sign an Executive Order to reinsert the feeding tube and send in Federal Marshals, if necessary, to see that it is done. We call on Governor Jeb Bush to take Terri into immediate protective custody under the Department of Children and Families. We call for a Grand Jury to be impaneled to investigate allegations of criminal abuse and neglect by Michael Schiavo and bias and judicial malfeasance against Judge George Greer.”

The Catholic Media Coalition which has affiliates in many states, including two in Florida, calls on all citizens of good will to demand that President Bush and Governor Bush take these actions at once.

Those who think in strategic terms, however, will never exercise the full scope of their executive powers to stop the shedding of innocent blood under cover of law. They were defer to the "rule of law," which is exactly what officials did in the Third Reich when Adolf Hitler implemented his own euthanasia policies. The duty to provide resistance to unjust judicial decisions that defy God's law cannot be dismissed with a specious deference to the "rule of law."

Some will argue that things would have been different if an "activist" judge did not get in the way. I am sick and tired of people missing the forest for the trees. Activist judges (by the way, James Whittemore, although nominated by President William Jefferson Blyth Clinton, was confirmed as a result of the votes he received from Republican senators) in American courtrooms are the logical and inexorable result of the false nature of the American founding. This country was founded in the specific and categorical rejection of the Social Reign of Christ the King as exercised by Holy Mother Church. If we had a Catholic country, judges would sit under a Crucifix and they would be mindful of administering justice according to the mind of the Divine Redeemer, keeping in mind that they could lose their immortal souls for all eternity if they rendered justices that violated the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law. And if a judge was indeed foolish enough to play God, as American judges have been doing for quite some time now, then our own Louis IX would depose the judge and put him in jail for quite a number of years. We have to think as Catholics, folks, not as conservatives or as partisans of a particular political party. We are in this mess precisely because of the overthrow of the Social Reign of Christ the King that was an immediate and desired consequence of Father Martin Luther's revolt against the true Church Our Lord founded upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope, and all of the diabolical forces that have been let loose from that time to this. The tragedy of Terri Schiavo is the tragedy of Modernity in the world and Modernism in the Church.

There is no secular, religiously indifferentist way to retard the evil forces of Modernity. The "activist" judges do not respect the Deposit of Faith Our Lord has entrusted to His true Church. The United States Constitution makes not one mention of God at all, no less the God-Man Who redeemed us on the wood of the Holy Cross. All of the references to "God" in the Declaration of Independence are Masonic and naturalistic. Michael Schiavo and George Felos and George Greer and James Whittemore do not accept the reality of Redemptive Suffering and the sufficiency of the graces won for us on Calvary to endure whatever crosses we are asked to bear and to offer them up to the Blessed Trinity through Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Why should they be impressed with any arguments about the the value of human life made by those trying to defend Terri Schindler-Schiavo? They believe they are gods and they can dispense with human life as they see fit. Without the true Faith, that is, the Catholic Faith, as the foundation of a civil government the only result is barbarism over the course of time.

Consider the wisdom of Pope Leo XIII in Immortale Dei:

Whatever, therefore, is opposed to virtue and truth may not rightly be brought temptingly before the eye of man, much less sanctioned by the favor and protection of the law. A well-spent life is the only way to heaven, whither all are bound, and on this account the State is acting against the laws and dictates of nature whenever it permits the license of opinion and of action to lead minds astray from truth and souls away from the practice of virtue. To exclude the Church, founded by God Himself, from life, from laws, from the education of youth, from domestic society is a grave and fatal error. A State from which religion is banished can never be well regulated; and already perhaps more than is desirable is known of the nature and tendency of the so-called civil philosophy of life and morals. The Church of Christ is the true and sole teacher of virtue and guardian of morals. She it is who preserves in their purity the principles from which duties flow, and, by setting forth most urgent reasons for virtuous life, bids us not only to turn away from wicked deeds, but even to curb all movements of the mind that are opposed to reason, even though they be not carried out in action.

There you have it. Remember this passage, ladies and gentlemen. Our problems are only going to get worse and worse and worse until some Pope actually consecrates Russia to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate with all of the world's bishops. Our Lady promised that there would be an era of peace once there was the faithful fulfillment of her Fatima Message. Seen that era of peace lately? The daily war against the unborn. The daily war against the purity and innocence of children? The daily war against the elderly and the handicapped and the infirmed? Remember, Terri Schiavo's case is not unique. Her case is only making headlines because she has family members who want to save. Scores of people are starved and dehydrated to death every day in this country, including in Catholic "health-care" facilities, because no one in their families objects to this act of murder, believing that they are acting in a "compassionate" way to end the suffering of their relatives.

The proper and faithful consecration of Russia to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart needs to be done also in order to stop the spread of the errors of Russia within the Church in her human elements. The errors of Russia are the errors of Modernity in the world (the deification of man, the glorification of material pleasure as the ultimate end of human existence, the deification of the State and all civil rulers as beyond criticism, the denial of the Incarnation as essential to personal and social, the triumph of civil law over God's law, religious indifferentism, religious liberty, "freedom of speech," including the propagating of heresies and blasphemies) and Modernism in the Church (see Pope Saint Pius X's Pascendi Domenici Gregis). Although Renato Cardinal Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Bishop Eli Sgreccia, the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and L'Osservatore Romano have issued clear and strong statements of absolute, unqualified support for Mrs. Schiavo's right to the provision of food and water, Terri's own shepherd, Bishop Robert N. Lynch, continues to be silent as she is slowly starved and dehydrated to death.

I made an effort on March 21, 2005, to secure responses from Bishop Lynch to a series of specific questions, which are reproduced below. His Director of Community Relations, Mrs. Vicky Wells Bedard, responded to my phone call and requested me to send my questions via e-mail, which I did. She left me a voice message this morning, March 22, 2005, to refer me to statements being made by the Florida Catholic Conference. In other words, Bishop Robert N. Lynch is not making any public statement as Mrs. Terri Schindler-Schiavo is being starved and dehydrated to death, hiding behind the impersonal apparatus of the Florida Catholic Conference. One of his brother bishops in Florida, the Most Reverend Thomas Wemski, the Bishop of Orlando, published an op-ed commentary in The Orlando Sentinel on March 20, 2005, to condemn the killing of Terri Schindler-Schiavo. Bishop Lynch, though, is nowhere to be seen. It was clear from Mrs. Bedard's voice message that Bishop Lynch would not be responding to the following questions (my questions and comments are in bold; quotations are in a smaller font size and italicized):

1) You issued a statement on August 12, 2003, that read in part:

Our Catholic Church has traditionally viewed medical treatment as excessively burdensome if it is “too painful, too damaging to the patient's bodily self and functioning, too psychologically repugnant to the patient, too suppressive of the patient's mental life, or too expensive.” [cf. “Life, Death and Treatment of Dying Patients: Pastoral Statement of the Catholic Bishops of Florida, 1989] If Terri's feeding tube is removed, it will undoubtedly be followed by her death. If it were to be removed because the nutrition which she receives from it is of no use to her, or because it is unreasonably burdensome for her and her family or her caregivers, it could be seen as permissible. But if it were to be removed simply because she is not dying quickly enough and some believe she would be better off because of her low quality of life, this would be wrong. . . . . Proper care of our lives requires that we seek necessary medical care from others but we are not required to use every possible remedy in every circumstance. We are obliged to preserve our own lives, and help others preserve theirs, by use of means that have a reasonable hope of sustaining life without imposing unreasonable burdens on those we seek to help, that is, on the patient and his or her family and community. In general, we are only required to use ordinary means that do not involve an excessive burden, for others or for our ourselves. What may be too difficult for some may not be for others

Pope John Paul II specifically rejected the view that the provision of food and water is "medical treatment" or that it is ever permissible to consider "burdens" to permit the removal of food and water. He noted the following on March 20, 2004:

The evaluation of probabilities, founded on waning hopes for recovery when the vegetative state is prolonged beyond a year, cannot ethically justify the cessation or interruption of minimal care for the patient, including nutrition and hydration. Death by starvation or dehydration is, in fact, the only possible outcome as a result of their withdrawal. In this sense it ends up becoming, if done knowingly and willingly, true and proper euthanasia by omission.

In this regard, I recall what I wrote in the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, making it clear that "by euthanasia in the true and proper sense must be understood an action or omission which by its very nature and intention brings about death, with the purpose of eliminating all pain"; such an act is always "a serious violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person" (n. 65).

Besides, the moral principle is well known, according to which even the simple doubt of being in the presence of a living person already imposes the obligation of full respect and of abstaining from any act that aims at anticipating the person's death.

Considerations about the "quality of life", often actually dictated by psychological, social and economic pressures, cannot take precedence over general principles. First of all, no evaluation of costs can outweigh the value of the fundamental good which we are trying to protect, that of human life. Moreover, to admit that decisions regarding man's life can be based on the external acknowledgment of its quality, is the same as acknowledging that increasing and decreasing levels of quality of life, and therefore of human dignity, can be attributed from an external perspective to any subject, thus introducing into social relations a discriminatory and eugenic principle.

You admitted in 2003 that the very factors repudiated in a simple reiteration of Catholic teaching by Pope John Paul II in 2004 could be used to permit the withdrawal of food and water. Are you ready now to admit that your August 12, 2003, statement was wrong and misinformed the Catholics of the Diocese of Saint Petersburg about the truth of Catholic teaching on the immorality of food and water?

2) Is the Florida statute under which Terri Schiavo is being starved and dehydrated to death immoral and unjust on its face? Does anyone have the right found the Divine positive law and/or the natural law to starve and dehydrate himself to death--or to delegate that authority to others?

3) Renato Cardinal Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, noted on March 7, 2005:

However, in just a few days, [if her husband and the courts have their way, ]this is exactly what will happen to Terri. She will be completely deprived of water and food. She will have excessive suffering and pain inflicted upon her which will lead to her cruel death . Yet we have come to the point of asking whether due process been fully carried out and all options exhausted on behalf of Terri? This is unbelievable! Is it not sufficient enough to say that there are still questions that must be answered? We plead, we make the urgent appeal for the life of a helpless human being ...a person with whom we all share our God given human dignity. How can anyone say that her best interests have been taken into consideration?

In his Message for the Eleventh World Day of the Sick (11 February 2003) His Holiness Pope John Paul II stated: “And while palliative treatment in the final stage of life can be encouraged, avoiding a “treatment at all costs” mentality, it will never be permissible to resort to actions or omissions which by their nature or in the intention of the person acting are designed to bring about death.”

Palliative care, by its definition is the alleviation of suffering and relieving pain. In the last stage of life, it is this care for which we all must hope because, if the feeding tube is removed and Terri is forced to die this slow, terrible, painful death, we must ask ourselves, “ And who will be next ?” Will this open the door for a state to decide whether this or that incapacitated person should die...not be allowed to die a dignified death but that they should have death inflicted upon them?

It must stop here and now. The courts, the judges and everyone involved with this must understand that all of the questions involved in the case of Terri Schiavo have not yet been answered . Society must realize that we can never inflict this sort of death on a human being, on any other creature, without each and every one of us and society as a whole suffering a terrible fate.

Why did not you join in solidarity with Cardinal Martino immediately upon the issuance of this statement to instruct the faithful in your diocese that the Vatican was applying Catholic moral teaching clearly and without any conditions at all in the case of Mrs. Schiavo? Have you made reference to Cardinal Martino's statement in any of your own statements between March 7 and March 18, 2005?

4) Why have you not publicly warned Michael Schiavo, in whose hands you yourself said rested the fate of the wife to whom he has been unfaithful and provided minimal care as he has sought to use the Florida court system to kill her, that he risks his immortal soul in seeking the death of his wife?

5) You have stated publicly that you regret that the family of Terri Schindler-Schiavo "has not come together." What decision was there to be made in this case? Is it not true that there were only the Gospel precepts of love to be given to Terri and the binding precepts of the Fifth Commandment to be observed faithfully? Why have you never stated unequivocally that Michael Schiavo has been wrong from the very beginning?

6) Your Excellency has never made any reference to reality of Redemptive Suffering and that the graces won for us by the shedding of Our Lord's Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross are sufficient to endure whatever crosses we are asked to bear. You have written in relativist, utilitarian, naturalistic terms, mentioning not at all the sufficiency of God's grace and the duty to treat others in Terri's situation as we would treat the Lord Himself. Why have you not made any such references in the case of Terri Schiavo?

7) The law firm that represents the Diocese of Saint Petersburg gave a donation to the campaign of Judge George Greer. Do you repudiate Judge George Greer as a reprehensible person who is unfit to sit as a judge on any court of law? Will you fire the law firm for helping to enable the election of a man who has played God with the life of an innocent human being?

There are many other questions that have been raised by your statements. It is my contention that this whole situation could have been prevented, Your Excellency, if you had said the following to Judge Greer in open court: "Terri Schiavo is a faithful Catholic. The Holy See has come to her defense. No matter what representations have been made about her 'wishes,' which can never trump the law of God no matter the existence of a civil law that seems to give one the 'right' to do so, there is no evidence that she would ever defy an appeal from a Vatican cardinal that she not be starved and dehydrated to death. I appeal to you, Judge Greer, as a Catholic bishop on whose soul rests the welfare of my sheep unto eternity, to consider the fact that Terri Schiavo, a Catholic, would never want to do anything that violated the law of God. I can tell you that it would never be her wish to be starved and dehydrated to death in contravention of God's immutable laws."

Your job, Bishop Lynch, was not mediation. It was to proclaim the truths of the true Faith, not misrepresent the consistent teaching of the Church about the provision of food and water being ordinary care no matter how they are administered. Michael Schiavo is a moral criminal. You have made it appear as though he is only exercising his rights under Florida law--and that others (the legislature, the court, the governor) had no right to interfere (your February 28, 2005, statement). You have said that this has been a "complex" case. What is complex about obeying the law of God?

Bishop Lynch belongs in front of Woodspice Hospice with the brave souls who are keeping a vigil day and night for Terri Schindler-Schiavo as she suffers her agony with Our Lord during this Holy Week. He needs to condemn Michael Schiavo's actions in the strongest terms, something that might be difficult for him to do if, say, he has actually told him that he had the right to withdraw food and water from the wife to whom he has been unfaithful and has provided minimal care for while using the proceeds of a malpractice settlement to fund his efforts to kill her under cover of law. Yes, I imagine it would be very embarrassing for Bishop Lynch to have Michael Schiavo state publicly that the Bishop of Saint Petersburg had actually told him at some point that the final decision as to his wife's living or dying was his and no one else's.

President George W. Bush sees the Terri Schiavo issue as "complex" because he truly does not know any better. Bishop Robert N. Lynch sees this simple, black and white issue of life and death, of good versus evil as complex because he does not accept the received teaching of the Divine Redeemer as immutable and thus beyond the ability of Modernist theologians to redefine in light of contemporary circumstances and technologies. While we pray for the conversion of both men to the Catholic Faith, we must point out the error of the former while we condemn in no uncertain terms the apostasy of the latter, which is so exemplary of the larger problems facing the Church in her human elements in the postconciliar era.

Our prayers must continue ceaselessly for Terri Schindler-Schiavo and for her family. As I noted in "Terri Schiavo's Passion Begins" a few days ago, Our Lady is standing with her as she endures this cross, imposed upon her by the sins of wicked men intent to use unjust and immoral laws to eradicate her life. Terri Schindler-Schiavo does not suffer in vain. She does not suffer alone. God has not and will never abandon her. The history of Catholicism is replete with examples of countless martyrs whose deaths were sought by wicked men in the belief that they could "solve" problems by eliminating those who inconvenienced and/or disturbed them. What wicked men never realize is that those who are put to death as victim-souls will have a high place in Heaven, and they will be praying for the conversion of the very men who had put them to death. And while we are remembering Terri Schindler-Schiavo, let us remember also the daily victims of abortion, both chemical and surgical, and all of those being starved and dehydrated to death under cover of law in this country and throughout the world.

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

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and the snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray, and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, miserere nobis.

Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, miserere nobis.

Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, miserere nobis.


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