Wednesday, March 29, 2006

And they'll know we are Christians ...

... by the names we call each other. Especially when it's "murderer."

And that's exactly what Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life (now a religious community of some sort) called Michael Schiavo, whom he addressed in a letter: ā€œSome have demanded that I apologize to you for calling you a murderer. Not only will I not apologize, I will repeat it again. Your decision to have Terri dehydrated to death was a decision to kill her.ā€

Wow, that's helpful. What's terribly unfortunate is that Pavone evidently gets to speak for the Catholic church, since no one seems to want to touch this with a 10-foot pole even a year later. The fact of the matter is both the bishops of Florida and Cardinal McCarrick of Washington, D.C., as much as said that Catholic teaching permitted the withdrawal of artificial hydration and nutrition in Terri's tragic circumstance.

But as usual, good moral reflection gets drowned out by high-pitched hyperbole from the far right. And I still say that the further tragedy is that the consciences of many will be further burdened in end-of-life decision-making, believing that they will have to use any possible means to keep a body breathing or be guilty of murder.

Sometimes it's OK to let go. At some point you have to. And isn't there something about resurrection in the Story somewhere?

2 Comments:

At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Ken said...

Sound very loving Bryan, but I'm sorry, it just doesn't wash. The provision of feeding/hydration is considered ordinary care. There are literally thousands of people who are being fed at this moment just like Terri was. Shall we remove their feeding/hydration too? And you surely must know that the Holy Father, John Paul II, clearly stated that feeding/hydrating in this manner was not to be considered in any way as so-called "artificial life support." (BTW, I'd appreciate it if you could provide the full quote and context of Cardinal McCarricks statement.)

 
At 8:32 PM, Blogger CtotheL said...

There is a question of circumstances; in Terri's case the consensus among moral theologians was that artificial feeding/hydration in her instance constituted extraordinary means; additionally, most moral theologians argued that JPII had actually deviated in a March 2004 statement (http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=18970) from the generally accepted distinctions between extraordinary and ordinary care. At the same time, JPII himself discontinued the same life support as his end neared. Commonweal has an interesting piece on this question that I think clearly lays out the issues in question (http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/article.php3?id_article=1549). Though McCarrick's and the Florida bishops comments no longer seem available, I continue to maintain that Michael Schiavo's decision lay within the possibilities permitted by Catholic teaching on end-of-life care and within the bounds of properly formed prudential judgment.

 

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