Cardinal Keeler Says Schiavo Deserves Basic Care

Issues Statement on Florida Case

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 25, 2005 ( Cardinal William Keeler, saying that God will call Terri Schiavo to himself when it’s her time to die, insists, «It is not for us to determine when that time is.»

The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities made that point in a statement Thursday on the case involving the brain-damaged Florida woman whose feeding tube was pulled last week. Her parents have struggled to have state and federal courts order the reinsertion of the tube, to no avail.

In Florida, Schiavo, 41, was weakening and down «to her last hours,» her father Bob Schindler said today. Her parents still held out hope for unlikely help from Governor Jeb Bush or from courts that previously turned down requests to have the feeding tube restored.

In his statement, Cardinal Keeler said: «Terri Schiavo remains at the center of a dispute as our nation’s citizens follow the news with growing horror,» Cardinal Keeler said in his statement. «Now this severely disabled woman is dying slowly from being denied food and water. Since her feeding tube was removed on March 18, her parents reportedly are not even allowed to wet her parched lips.

«As the Catholic bishops of Florida recently said, Terri Schindler Schiavo is a ‘defenseless human being with inherent dignity’ who deserves care and respect. Her serious disabilities make her no less a child of God. She deserves no less than human care and the respect due every human being. She is not in a coma, she is not on ‘life support.'»

He continued: «She needs only basic care and assistance in obtaining food and water. When her feeding tube was removed last week it ensured that death will follow, for none of us can sustain our lives without such nourishment.

«Our hearts go out to Terri Schiavo’s parents and siblings who continue to do everything humanly possible to keep Terri from a death by starvation. We are all indebted to the many valiant people across this nation who continue to pray, witness and make their voices heard to reverse this tragic situation. And we extend our gratitude to President Bush, members of Congress and public officials in Florida for their efforts to give her a chance to live.

«God will call Terri Schiavo to Himself when it is her time to die. It is not for us to determine when that time is.»

In an opinion article today in the newspaper Newsday, Cathy Cleaver Ruse, director of planning and information for the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, argued: «A terribly misleading ABC News Poll, repeated in news reports ad nauseam, says that 63 percent of Americans want Schiavo’s feeding tube removed. The poll says she’s ‘on life support,’ which is not true, and that she has ‘no consciousness,’ which her family and dozens of doctors dispute in sworn affidavits.

«The poll also says the family disagreement is whether she would have wanted to ‘be kept alive.’ But Schiavo is not dying — or wasn’t, while she was being fed.»

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