.- Bishop Thomas Wenski issued a powerful defense of the life of Terri Schiavo this week in a commentary published in the Orlando Sentinel. The 41-year-old disabled Florida woman’s feeding tube was removed March 18 by court order. “Holy Week, the annual remembrance of Jesus' passion and death, begins with the Passion of Terri Schiavo,” wrote the Orlando bishop. “Terri's agony has already begun and, barring some miracle, the denouement of Terri's drama will be her death.”
In addition to drawing an analogy between Terri’s experience and that of Jesus, the bishop compared Terri to actor Christopher Reeve, who was kept alive on a respirator until he died late last year of natural causes.
“No one begrudged his heroic struggle to live, and we were all edified by his courage and that of his family who stood by him,” wrote the bishop. “Terri, however, is not being kept alive by any machine as was Reeve…. She only needs assistance to be fed.
“Does the fact that he could speak and she cannot make it right to deprive her of the ordinary means of human sustenance? If so, how can any of our seriously ill brethren ever again trust themselves to sleep while under a doctor's care?” he asked.
While some would argue that removing the feeding tube is simply letting nature take its course, the bishop argued that there is nothing natural about starving to death or having food withheld.
“The mark of a civilized society was that the helpless had the greatest claim on our protection,” he wrote. “Now it would seem that they have the least.”
He cited Pope John Paul II’s recent book, “Memory and Identity”, in which the pontiff says the crisis “of our time is rooted in the presumption that we can decide for ourselves what is good and evil without reference to God.”
“When we do kill,” the bishop pointed out, “we usually … make up excuses for our crimes [and] … disguise what we do by rationalizations.”
For example, we don't abort "babies," we remove the "products of conception,” he offered. “And when we dispatch with a fatal cocktail the feeble minded it is because such a life is lebensunwerter Leben (life "unworthy of life"), as euthanasia was justified in the Germany of the Third Reich.”