Father Frank Pavone, the president of Priests for Life, today remembered Terri Schiavo, the disabled woman whose former husband killed her six years ago after winning a court order to remove her food and water.
Terri’s family fought in state and federal courts to prevent Michael Schiavo from taking Terri’s life, but they were not successful in acquiring the medical care and rehabilitative treatment they wanted to provide her.
Six Years Ago Today….
On March 30, 2005, Terri Schiavo had her last full day of life on this earth. I spent her last night by her side, praying with her, reading Scripture to her, and assuring her of the love of so many of you. Terri had not received a drop of water in nearly two weeks. As I reached out my hand to touch hers, I could also reach it out to touch the vase of flowers that was next to her. And that vase was filled with water. The flowers were nourished; Terri was deprived of nourishment. Court orders saw to it that none of us could give her some of the water that nourished the flowers. In a culture of death, law is divorced from humanity, and we are all victimized in the process.
Terri Schiavo was killed. She was a disabled woman whose estranged husband, and the courts to which he went, decided that she should be deprived of water and food.
Terri was not in a coma, she was not on life support, and she did not have a terminal illness. Terri was one of those people who cries out for our extra love and support, which her parents and siblings were ready to give her for the rest of her life. I was at Terri’s bedside during her final hours and moments. As she was dying from lack of water, there stood by her head a display of beautiful live flowers, immersed in water. As I blessed and absolved Terri, I assured her of your love. Now I implore you to educate your neighbors.
Her loving parents and siblings were ready to care for her for the rest of their lives. Yet through the actions of her estranged husband and the erroneous decisions of the courts, she was killed anyway. It is perfectly logical and moral to forego useless treatments, but that’s not what Terri’s case was all about. In this case, it was not that treatments were considered useless – it was that a life was considered useless, and that type of judgment is dangerous to us all.
The Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, in collaboration with Priests for Life, has established the “International Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Terri Schindler Schiavo, and All of Our Vulnerable Brothers and Sisters,” which is observed each year on March 31, the anniversary of her death. We invite individual believers to spend time on that day learning about Terri, and praying for all whose lives are threatened in the same way that hers was. We invite Churches to hold memorial services and to educate their people on the dignity of every human life, despite any disability or disease with which that life may be afflicted.
We invite all people to help us continue to draw good out of the sad and tragic way in which Terri was treated.
The family of Terri Schiavo, through their Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, will present a symposium on end-of-life issues before a special Mass to remember and honor the life of the disabled woman.
The mass, which will be held at Ave Maria University, a Florida-based Catholic college, will mark the anniversary of the death of the woman who rose to international attention when her husband sought and won permission from a court to take her life via a painful 13-day starvation and dehydration death.