Cardinal Keeler Backs Continued Care for Terri Schiavo

Stresses Church Teaching on Feeding and Hydration

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 10, 2005 ( The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities applauded Florida’s prelates’ insistence that Terri Schiavo continue to receive all treatments and care that would help her.

Cardinal William Keeler in a statement Wednesday stressed the Church’s teaching on nutrition and hydration.

His remarks followed a statement by the bishops of Florida who recently spoke out regarding the case of Schiavo, a woman at the heart of a controversy over withholding nutrition and hydration from people with cognitive disabilities.

«The case of Terri Schindler Schiavo in Florida,» wrote Cardinal Keeler, «has focused national attention on the plight of patients diagnosed as being in a ‘vegetative’ state.

«In a speech last year, Pope John Paul II affirmed the inherent dignity of every human being: ‘Even our brothers and sisters who find themselves in the clinical condition of a «vegetative state,»‘ he said, ‘retain their human dignity in all its fullness.’ They are not ‘vegetables,’ but fellow human beings in need of our love and care.»

The Pope, the cardinal continued, «reminded us that providing water and food, even by artificial means, is ‘morally obligatory, insofar as and until it is seen to have attained its proper finality, which in the present case consists in providing nourishment to the patient and alleviation of his suffering.'»

Cardinal Keeler added: «I applaud the February 28 statement of the Catholic bishops of Florida, applying this teaching to the Schiavo case.

«The bishops reiterated their plea that Terri Schindler Schiavo ‘continue to receive all treatments and care that will be of benefit to her.’ I join with them in praying that those who hold power over Terri Schindler Schiavo’s fate will see that she ‘continues to receive nourishment, comfort and loving care.'»

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