ND 88 member dies of cancer, court case continues
The late Linda Schmidt.
The late Linda Schmidt.
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.- The Thomas More Society reported on Wednesday that one of the 88 pro-life protestors who was arrested at the University of Notre Dame last year has died.

Linda Schmidt passed away on Tuesday night after a terminal battle with cancer, said Tom Brejcha, president of the Thomas More Society in a statement yesterday. In spite of her illness, of which the prosecutors were given proof before her death, Brejcha said she still faced charges for protesting President Obama's speech at Notre Dame in May of 2009.

“It is with a heavy heart that we report that Linda Schmidt died early last night,” said Brejcha on Wednesday. “While she will be missed by her family and loved ones, as a woman of tremendous faith she will no doubt spend eternity with our Lord.”

“But our grief at losing this dedicated pro-life heroine is greater given the grim truth that she lived her final days under this cloud of criminal charges instigated by Notre Dame, which remained pending even as she departed this life,” he added.

Dr. Monica Migliorino Miller, fellow Notre Dame 88 member and a friend of 20 years, said on Thursday that “Linda was a very kind person and had a tenacious spirit, nothing could stop her” and that “she would just push through any problems.” “She was that way on May 19, when we were at Notre Dame,” she noted.

“She hadn't yet found out she had cancer, but she was nonetheless very ill. But she felt she had to be there to give witness to the truth about the sanctity of life. I remember that she was crying when they handcuffed her because having her arms pulled behind her back was causing her great pain. I even spoke up, asking if the officer could just handcuff in the front to alleviate the discomfort,” Dr. Miller told CNA.

“Before the officer could respond, she spoke up and said 'No, no, it's fine. I'm fine. I'm Ok.' That was Linda. She was willing to suffer for the truth.”

“It meant a lot to her to bear witness at Notre Dame and afterwards,” Dr. Miller added. “She has every intention of fighting these charges, even if it meant going to trial.”

Miller also criticized the Fr. John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, saying, “One of the most troubling aspects of this entire mess is Fr. Jenkins' inability to recognize that he created the problem.”

“It is Fr. Jenkins' actions that brought scandal to Notre Dame, to the Catholic Church, to Christendom and to the society at large – yet he continues to obfuscate his responsibility in the matter.”

Tom Dixon, special council for the arrested pro-lifers told CNA on Thursday that “it is important to remember that these 88 individuals” are people whose “lives have been turned upside down simply for bearing witness to the truth at a Catholic university that all human life is sacred. For almost a year, these men and women have been forced to live lives with this heavy and undue burden hanging over them.”

When asked if he believes that Notre Dame has the influence to cause prosecutors to drop the charges, Dixon said that as a former prosecutor himself, he “can say with great resolve” that he couldn't “imagine pursuing cases like this if the complaining witness requested that they be dismissed.”

“I cannot fathom a circumstance where a prosecutor would see any purpose or value to advancing these cases to trial without the active support and participation of the complaining witness,” he added. “This is particularly true given our already overburdened criminal court system.”

The Thomas More Law Society reported on Wednesday that Schmidt leaves behind her husband and two daughters.

CNA contacted Notre Dame for a reply on the case against the now 87 pro-life protestors but did not receive a reply.

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