Schiavo Facing a Cruel Death, Says Vatican Official

«Not Euthanasia in Literal Sense,» Insists Bishop Sgreccia

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 22, 2005 ( A Vatican official assailed a U.S. court decision against Terri Schiavo, saying that the brain-damaged Florida woman is facing a «cruel» death.

Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said he heard with «disconcert and sadness» the news today that U.S. District Judge James Whittemore in Florida rejected the urgent request by Schiavo’s parents to have her feeding tube reinserted.

Schiavo’s husband has been fighting to end her nutrition in order to bring about her death. Her parents are appealing Whittemore’s decision in a federal appeals court.

«I must confirm the moral judgment which does not change: It is an illicit and grave act,» Bishop Sgreccia told Vatican Radio.

«It is especially grave, as it seems that the decision over a person’s life or death today is a court issue,» he said.

«Therefore, I confirm the negative judgment, not only on the fact that food has been taken away from her, but also on the decision that tries to legitimize such a thing. I hope that these examples will not be followed by other similar decisions,» the prelate added.

Bishop Sgreccia explained that the decision of the U.S. justice «is not euthanasia in the literal sense of the term; it is not a ‘good death,’ it is a death that is induced in a cruel way. It is not a medical act. It is about taking water and food away to cause death.»

«I think that those who have expressed solidarity with the family are doing an act of great merit,» as well as those who have defended her publicly, he stressed.

The bishop criticized «a mechanism of exaggeration that seeks to favor the legitimization of so-called euthanasia, in cases such as this one in which interests of another kind are often at stake.»

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