Oh happy day, Blessed Mother Teresa
Yesterday was not a good day for the Culture of Death, losing on two fronts.
First, the Florida Legislature and governor intervened to stop Michael Schiavo’s bid to kill his brain-damaged wife Terri by removing her feeding and hydration tubes and starving her to death. This in spite of the wishes of her parents and their offer to turn over all of Terri’s assets to her husband, despite the lack of a living will or any other form of contemporaneous evidence about Terri’s wishes other than her husband’s present-day say-so, despite disputes over her precise medical diagnosis (there were doctors testifying both that she could be rehabilitated and that she couldn’t), and despite the fact that by any standard that would be applied if Terri were fully ambulatory, her husband had abandoned her (his live-in girlfriend is expecting their second child).
Last Wednesday, the “husband” had finally prevailed in court and removed Terri’s food and water tubes, but on Monday and Tuesday, the Florida legislature passed and Gov. Jeb Bush signed, a bill essentially giving the governor the power to intervene in this case and order the tubes put back in. At least the husband’s <s>ambulance …</s> er, lawyer George Felos has a sense of humor: “It is simply inhumane and barbaric to interrupt her death process. Just because Terri Schiavo is not conscious doesn’t mean she doesn’t have dignity.” (It would take a heart of stone not to laugh here.) The “husband,” hellbent on killing his wife, launched another court challenge late last night, but lost. Now those of us who’d been praying and calling and e-mailing Florida officials just hope that the five days of forced starvation haven’t wrecked Terri’s organs and made a recovery impossible, thus potentially vindicating the Death Cult through their self-fulfilling prophecy about her prospects.
This was beautiful news to happen on the same day that Congress again passed a ban on partial-birth abortion but this time was finally able to send it to a president who will sign it. And what a gift to Mother Teresa, who devoted her life to serving the inconvenient and the helpless and who denounced abortion and euthanasia at every opportunity, to have these events happen just two days after her beatification.
It might not be a miracle attributable to Mother Teresa in the fullest sense, but state legislatures just don’t ordinarily do in 1 1/2 days what the Florida lawmakers did. Susan Carr, Terri’s sister, called the vote: “a miracle, an absolute miracle.” Others in the Catholic blogosphere like Mark Shea, Amy Welborn and Father Rob Johansen (see his Sunday homily here) kicked up holy hell for weeks, much more than I did publicly. Other Catholic sites, to which I don’t have permanent links, to do yeoman work were Times Against Humanity and Envoy magazine. Christian talk radio, briefly mentioned in this fine article, and the disability movement also participated in the efforts, both political and spiritual, to save Terri — although I’m more familiar with the first group than the other two. (I was a lowly foot soldier — a half-dozen e-mails, a couple of on-hold calls, and some financial support, but the Florida Legislature’s phones and mail system shut down on the crucial day). But there was Providence too. A reader at Mark’s blog said he saw Columba Bush, the Catholic wife of Jeb, in Rome as part of the U.S. delegation to the 25th anniversary celebration of John Paul II’s papacy, on her knees praying before St. Peter’s bones. “I’m betting Mrs. Jeb got on the phone to her husband and had a frank exchange of views,” the writer said.
Now you might also think, given all this, that the bishop in whose diocese this is occurring would be out there picketing trying to impose his rosaries on her ovaries, or something like that. Uh-uh. This is the diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida, you understand, which is led by Bishop Robert Lynch, who outlawed regular Eucharistic exposition and adoration (4th item here). For the first several days of the meltdown period (when it looked like the die had been cast and Terri would be starved, and the first few days of her being starved), he was supposedly out at a staff retreat, maybe doing stuff like this, leaving a phone message and no way for people to even leave a message to tell him that … y’know … one of his daughters was being murdered. Then, after it looked like the “husband” would win the right to starve Terri to death, the “bishop” issued this statement here. The text is as follows:
“With the news that the feeding tube has now been removed from Terri Schiavo, my own prayers and those of thousands of other people go out for Terri and for her family. May the author of all life look kindly on Terri and provide consolation and hope for those who love her.
“I continue to believe that such decisions should not be made in the court system but must be made on a case-by-case basis by families and/or other responsible parties at the clear direction of each one of us well in advance of a crisis.”
Excuse my French, but what the samhell is a bishop for if he’s just gonna issue a tepid press release indistinguishable from something that might have put out by the offices of Olympia Snowe or Blanche Lincoln. I’m not crazy about public showboating and planned arrests and whatnot, but if ever there was a time for fire and brimstone, for Jeremiah, for prophetic judgment, someone being starved to death because she’s handicapped and inconvenient is it. Why would Jesus even trouble Himself to get nailed up to some wood and rise from the dead if *this* is the kind of leadership we get in defense of the least of us from those who represent Him, and therefore them? It’s wishy-washy and bureaucratic in its language; it’s just an after-the-fact “what are you gonna do” acceptance of a fait accompli; and it’s dubious on church teaching to boot (we DON’T have a right to starve the inconvenient “on a case-by-case basis” in the privacy of our own abode, any more than we have the right to kill the unborn or ourselves). It’s the classic case of offering stones and snakes instead of loaves and fishes. Even my own bishop, Paul Loverde of far away Arlington, Va., said something far closer to what needed to be said: “The inherent worth of the life of Theresa Schiavo obligates all concerned to provide her with care and support and to reject any omission of nutrition or hydration intended to cause her death. May God continue to bless you in your work in defense of life.”
Further, a couple of people at Amy’s site surmised (not unreasonably in my view) that “bishop” Lynch had ordered his priests not to be there. Amy said she was “exceedingly puzzled by the absence of any priests beside this Monsignor in this situation.” Did no local priests show up simply from outrage or plain frickin’ curiosity? “I’m beginning to suspect that the word has come down privately from Lynch to priests and religious in his diocese to stay away,” she said. Indeed, many in the Catholic blogosphere had to plead to find a champion in Father Rob at Thrownback, who said he would go down there to Florida from Michigan (yes … Michigan) to be with the Schindlers, to help out the one priest they already had, to minister to the protesters, and to participate in civil disobedience if need be. (The oh-so-loving husband had denied Terri Communion at this point.) He immediately was inundated with offers of financial help from literally across the world. To come down from … Michigan. And to think, I actually once spent some intellectual energy and capital defending this Florida bishop in a private e-mail exchange with Rod Dreher over these blogs of his at National Review.
And consider the relative silence of Lynch and the bishops as a body, when you look at their actions on another “life issue” — capital punishment. Every time some *guilty* killer meets his reward, part of the ritual is the call for clemency from the Pope, the bishops, the local bishop. Don’t get me wrong, I’m opposed to the death penalty too and I know how slow things can go. But wasn’t *something* in order?? A search for the word “Schiavo” on the Bishops Conference Web site as I write produces no hits. About this case, the nation’s Catholic bishops have collectively seen fit to utter not Word One (much less the Word from the One). Terri might have gotten better treatment from the leaders of her Church, my Church, if she’d just shot a few liquor store owners.
But the best comment was made by blogger Peggy Rettle at Amy’s site, to the effect that the Culture of Death is now so far advanced that we seek every justification we can to make the irreversible decision to kill people, rather than giving every presumption to preserving life.
“What I find most evil, however, is the husband’s unwillingness to show mercy on his wife and her family as well as the courts unwillingness to show similar mercy and err on the side of life when there is a family dispute or uncertainty as to the true medical condition … especially one where the motives and actions of one family member are quite questionable. This is what is so frightening for our society, I think.”
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