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Father Pavone’s Letter to Michael Schiavo

— Posted by John (March 27, 2006 at 9:18 am)

A few months ago, I heard Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life give a talk about his experience ministering to Terri and her family during her final days, and he attributed the cause of her murder to an “atrophy of compassion” that has afflicted our culture and led to the devaluing of the lives of the most vulnerable. As usual, this holy and courageous priest was right.

Yesterday, he read the following open letter to Michael Schiavo yesterday at an internationally broadcast religious service:

A year ago this week, I stood by the bedside of the woman you married and promised to love in good times and bad, in sickness and health. She was enduring a very bad time, because she hadn’t been given food or drink in nearly two weeks. And you were the one insisting that she continue to be deprived of food and water, right up to her death. I watched her face for hours on end, right up to moments before her last breath. Her death was not peaceful, nor was it beautiful. If you saw her too, and noticed what her eyes were doing, you know that to describe her last agony as peaceful is a lie.

This week, tens of millions of Americans will remember those agonizing days last year, and will scratch their heads trying to figure out why you didn’t simply let Terri’s mom, dad, and siblings take care of her, as they were willing to do. They offered you, again and again, the option to simply let them care for Terri, without asking anything of you. But you refused and continued to insist that Terri’s feeding be stopped. She had no terminal illness. She was simply a disabled woman who needed extra care that you weren’t willing to give.

I speak to you today on behalf of the tens of millions of Americans who still wonder why. I speak to you today to express their anger, their dismay, their outraged astonishment at your behavior in the midst of this tragedy. Most people will wonder about these questions in silence, but as one of only a few people who were eyewitnesses to Terri’s dehydration, I have to speak.

I have spoken to you before, not in person, but through mass media. Before Terri’s feeding tube was removed for the last time, I appealed to you with respect, asking you not to continue on the road you were pursuing, urging you to reconsider your decisions, in the light of the damage you were doing. I invited you to talk. But you did not respond.

Then, after Terri died, I called her death a killing, and I called you a murderer because you knew – as we all did – that ceasing to feed Terri would kill her. We watched, but you had the power to save her. Her life was in your hands, but you threw it away, with the willing cooperation of attorneys and judges who were as heartless as you were. Some 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. It doesn’t matter if Judge Greer said it was legal. No judge, no court, no power on earth can legitimize what you did. It makes no difference if what you did was legal in the eyes of men; it was murder in the eyes of God and of millions of your fellow Americans and countless more around the world. You are the one who owes all of us an apology.

Your actions offend us. Not only have you killed Terri and deeply wounded her family, but you have disgraced our nation, betrayed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and undermined the principles that hold us together as a civilized society. You have offended those who struggle on a daily basis to care for loved ones who are dying, and who sometimes have to make the very legitimate decision to discontinue futile treatment. You have offended them by trying to confuse Terri’s circumstances with theirs. Terri’s case was not one of judging treatment to be worthless – which is sometimes the case; rather, it was about judging a life to be worthless, which is never the case.

You have made your mark on history, but sadly, it is an ugly stain. In the name of millions around the world, I call on you today to embrace a life of repentance, and to ask forgiveness from the Lord, who holds the lives of each of us in His hands.

– Fr. Frank Pavone

Please visit our page on Terri Schiavo for more information: www.PriestsForLife.org/terri

All I can add is:

Amen!

Pray for more priests like Father Pavone.

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One Comment on “Father Pavone’s Letter to Michael Schiavo”

Please Note: Visitor comments do not necessarily reflect the views of Generations for Life or our parent organization, the Pro-Life Action League.

  1. Lucy says:

    I asked on another thread what the definition of life was, not where it began but what it was. I was supposed to give my definition, but haven’t had the time. I swear I have intention, just not the time.

    First, they proved that Terri Schiavo was in a permenant vegatative state. The proved that her brain damage was so severe that she was not aware of her surroundings. Terri Shiavos body was being kept alive, but Terri Shiavo had left us long ago. A fact that her husband acknowledged and respected.

    Life is what we do with it. We each make our lives what we want them to be. We have the ability to experience the world around us, and utilize what we find to alter our existance by first finding ways to provide the basic neccessities for ourselves, and then working on seeking the pleasures in life. Our entire existance is about the experiences we have and sharing them with others around us; others to come. We explore, learn, apply, act.

    There are people in the world who are differently abled in manners that cause some people to call them disabled, pity them, or rate them as worthless. However, people without hands create masterpiece paintings. Scientists divulge their brilliance without the ability to speak. There are endless examples of how people that do not function in the fashion that we count as normal do the same things we do not realize we do. Adapt to our bodies, learn how to use it, and how to make it serve our purposes. The body is not life. It is a tool, a vehicle. Sometimes we get a Ferrari, sometimes we get a Gremlin. The point is that the body is something that we can adapt to as long as the mind is functioning.

    Which, just so we are clear, does not mean that we must be Geniuses. It is the mind, and the freeing of it that have allowed us to live the way we do with our technological advances, medical advances. Even the feeding tube that has stirred this controversy is the product of the mind.

    My ability to think and then act on the ideas that come to mind is what life is about. I can think and reach rational conclusions, (at least ones that seem rational at the time) and them do my best to make them happen. Terri Schiavo was not capable of doing this. They have proven that her mind was gone. Her body was being kept alive by means of a feeding tube.

    I only hope that if I am ever in the same situation I have someone as kind as Michael Schiavo to notice that I do not demonstrate the characteristics of someone who is alive. I hope that someone as kind as her husband is able to discern between life and death, and notice that I am not alive.

    Comment posted June 11th, 2006 at 9:04 am

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