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Terri Schiavo: A Living Sermon for Good Friday

My Brother Priests,

Many of us across the nation will make reference to Terri Schiavo in our homilies today. Below are some talking points. I would also like you to know that I have been granted permission by Bishop John Yanta (Bishop of Amarillo, TX) to begin a Society of Apostolic Life for priests who want to devote themselves exclusively to pro-life ministry. See more at www.priestsforlife.org. Be assured of my prayers for a Happy Easter. -- Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

1. Terri has no terminal illness and has not been in a coma.

I visited with Terri on two occasions, most recently just a few weeks ago. Her eyes were open the whole time, looking and focusing on whoever was talking to her, except for when I placed my hands on her and prayed aloud. As we began the prayer she closed her eyes. When we finished, she opened them again. I saw her smile, I saw her return her parents' kiss, I heard her trying to form words.

This case is not about the "right to die," because until she was deprived of her simple feeding tube a week ago, she was not dying. She has no terminal illness whatsoever, and has not been on any machines, respirators, or life support.

2. Like Christ, she has been unjustly condemned to death by civil authority.

This case is a perfect example of judicial tyrrany, in that both state and federal courts have discarded the authority of the executive and legislative branches of government. Worse, those other branches have reinforced the notion that the Courts alone have the last word in these matters. They do not. Lawmakers take an oath to uphold the Constitution, not the courts' interpretation of it. Neither the Constitution nor our Founders give the courts the last word.

3. Court decisions preventing Terri from being fed have no authority.

Exactly ten years ago today, Pope John Paul II issued the following words in his document "The Gospel of Life": ' Laws which authorize and promote …euthanasia are … completely lacking in authentic juridical validity. …A civil law authorizing … euthanasia ceases by that very fact to be a true, morally binding civil law' (#72). The courts have told Terri's loving parents and siblings, who want to care for her for the rest of her life, that they cannot even give her a cup of water as she starves to death. In fact, my friend Eva Edl, a concentration camp survivor, tried the other day to bring Terri a cup of water and was arrested for doing so. The Passion of Christ is being lived out in Terri, and our faithfulness to Christ demands that we protect her and all who are vulnerable, as she is.

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