Vatican Calls for Keeping Schiavo Alive
Associated Press | March 21, 2005
By ALESSANDRA RIZZO
VATICAN CITY - The Vatican ( news -web sites ) newspaper on Monday criticized the removal of a feeding tube from a brain-damaged Florida woman, saying nobody can claim the right to decide whether a human being lives or dies.
"Who can, before God and humanity, pretend with impunity to claim such a right?" L'Osservatore Romano said. "Who — and on the basis of which criteria — can establish to whom the 'privilege' to live should be given?"
The remarks from the Vatican paper, which reflected earlier comments from several Vatican prelates, came after the U.S. Congress passed a law in an emergency session giving Terri Schiavo's parents the right to file suit in federal court over the withdrawal of nourishment and medical treatment needed to sustain their daughter. President Bush ( news -web sites ) has signed the bill.
"Who can judge the dignity and sacredness of the life of a human being, made in the image and likeness of God? Who can decide to pull the plug as if we were talking about a broken or out of order household appliance?" the paper said.
"In a Miami hospital there's a woman who is about to die from hunger and thirst. There is the slow dying of a person — not a 'vegetable' — which an impotent world is witnessing through TV and newspapers."
The 41-year-old woman's feeding tube was removed Friday on a Florida judge's order. Schiavo could linger for one or two weeks if the tube is not reinserted — as has happened twice before, once on a judge's order and once after Gov. Jeb Bush signed "Terri's Law," which was later declared unconstitutional.
The paper said that the case "is shaking America" but added that "in the ongoing debate, the lowest-level political controversy and the subtle game of legal tricks often end up prevailing."
Schiavo suffered severe brain damage 15 years ago. Her husband says Schiavo told him she would not want to be kept alive in a vegetative state. Her parents say she needs treatment and another opportunity for life.
"Terri's long, heartbreaking agony today is the agony of the meaning of God, the lord and creator of life," the paper concluded. "It is the agony of the love that can bend over the frail and needy. It is the agony of mankind."
Earlier this month, the Vatican's point man on bioethical issues, Monsignor Elio Sgreccia, said removing Schiavo's breathing tube would be a direct act of euthanasia and "a pitiless way to kill."
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