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March 25, 2006

An Open Letter to Michael Schiavo

Topics: Commentary, News, Remembering Terri

Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, and an eyewitness to Terri Schiavo's final hours, released the following open letter to Michael Schiavo tonight. Fr. Pavone will read it to a worldwide audience on an internationally broadcast religious service on Sunday morning, March 26.

Dear Michael,

A year ago this week, I stood by the bedside of the woman you married and promised to love in good times and bad, in sickness and health. She was enduring a very bad time, because she hadn't been given food or drink in nearly two weeks. And you were the one insisting that she continue to be deprived of food and water, right up to her death. I watched her face for hours on end, right up to moments before her last breath. Her death was not peaceful, nor was it beautiful. If you saw her too, and noticed what her eyes were doing, you know that to describe her last agony as peaceful is a lie.

This week, tens of millions of Americans will remember those agonizing days last year, and will scratch their heads trying to figure out why you didn't simply let Terri's mom, dad, and siblings take care of her, as they were willing to do. They offered you, again and again, the option to simply let them care for Terri, without asking anything of you. But you refused and continued to insist that Terri's feeding be stopped. She had no terminal illness. She was simply a disabled woman who needed extra care that you weren't willing to give.

I speak to you today on behalf of the tens of millions of Americans who still wonder why. I speak to you today to express their anger, their dismay, their outraged astonishment at your behavior in the midst of this tragedy. Most people will wonder about these questions in silence, but as one of only a few people who were eyewitnesses to Terri's dehydration, I have to speak.

I have spoken to you before, not in person, but through mass media. Before Terri's feeding tube was removed for the last time, I appealed to you with respect, asking you not to continue on the road you were pursuing, urging you to reconsider your decisions, in the light of the damage you were doing. I invited you to talk. But you did not respond.

Then, after Terri died, I called her death a killing, and I called you a murderer because you knew - as we all did - that ceasing to feed Terri would kill her. We watched, but you had the power to save her. Her life was in your hands, but you threw it away, with the willing cooperation of attorneys and judges who were as heartless as you were. Some have demanded that I apologize to you for calling you a murderer. Not only will I not apologize, I will repeat it again. Your decision to have Terri dehydrated to death was a decision to kill her. It doesn't matter if Judge Greer said it was legal. No judge, no court, no power on earth can legitimize what you did. It makes no difference if what you did was legal in the eyes of men; it was murder in the eyes of God and of millions of your fellow Americans and countless more around the world. You are the one who owes all of us an apology.

Your actions offend us. Not only have you killed Terri and deeply wounded her family, but you have disgraced our nation, betrayed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and undermined the principles that hold us together as a civilized society. You have offended those who struggle on a daily basis to care for loved ones who are dying, and who sometimes have to make the very legitimate decision to discontinue futile treatment. You have offended them by trying to confuse Terri's circumstances with theirs. Terri's case was not one of judging treatment to be worthless - which is sometimes the case; rather, it was about judging a life to be worthless, which is never the case.

You have made your mark on history, but sadly, it is an ugly stain. In the name of millions around the world, I call on you today to embrace a life of repentance, and to ask forgiveness from the Lord, who holds the lives of each of us in His hands.

-- Fr. Frank Pavone

Priests for Life is the nation's largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit www.priestsforlife.org

Posted by tim at March 25, 2006 10:36 PM

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Does anyone still read this? Bless you for keeping up a fight that everyone else in America seems to have forgotten. How many of those linked blogs actually check in? So sad.

Posted by: Beth Schlater at March 26, 2006 11:13 PM

Amazing that anyone would be so arrogant as to demand that Fr. Pavone apologize, but not think anything of Mike's evildoing.

Posted by: thedegu [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 26, 2006 11:46 PM

May GOD Bless Fr. Pavone and Terri's family.
Let's bring prayer back to our schools and our country.

Posted by: Elaine Dobra at March 27, 2006 2:07 AM

So many of us will never forget Terri's fight and how very precious everyone's life is. We must never forget that there are selfish, heartless people out there trying to end disabled people's lives, and we must do whatever we can to try to help those who cannot speak for themselves.

Posted by: Lori at March 27, 2006 4:54 AM

I lost my sister on February 21, 2006, by removal of her feeding tube, which had been in place for 16 years. She resided in a nursing home for the same length of time due to a rare neurological disease which shut down her central nervous system. She was in a vegetative state, the same as Terri. Her eyes would move and she would sometimes make subtle noises. I am rejoicing she has joined our Lord and Savior. A feeding tube was not created to prolong a life such as Terri's nor my sister's. A feeding tube was created to prolong life during a crisis until a more stable life was achieved. Terri and my sister died a natural death. I firmly believe God did not intend for us to use machines to prolong one's life in this state for years and years. Who would want that quality of life for themself? Truly ask yourself that question. You are in a total defenseless state. You are at the mercy, 100%, of others. I stand behind Michael and his decision.

Posted by: Patty at March 27, 2006 4:42 PM

If I took away your food, would that be a 'natural death?'

Babies take food from a spoon until their coordination is finally 'stabilized' and they can feed themselves; Euthanasia-logic thus dictates we starve them, too. A tube isn't 'natural,' but neither is a spoon...

Of course no one would WANT to live like that, but if you do, are you thus bereft of human dignity? Are you then to be killed in a manner not even reserved for farm animals or convicted murderers?

Posted by: thedegu [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 27, 2006 10:15 PM

I am a Mother of brain damaged son . He lives in a nursing home now for 16 years.He is also tube-fed. There is no way I would ever agree to have him starve to death. I accept the way he is today and still hope and pray for more tomorrow. I praise the family of Terri Schaivo 's Parents, brother and sister and all her supporters !! I cant imagine having to fight for my sons life in the way they had to do. I belive God will take him when he is ready for him no matter what we do on earth for him. My heart goes out to this family for their pain and heartache. I know the pain of losing a child and the pain having to see another child in his condition but I charish everyday God sees fit leaving him with us. Terri suffered a horriable death and her family is still and always will suffering. There is no love like a Mothers love for her child. All these people that agree with this so called loving husband havent lost anyone as precious as a child. God Bless the Schindlers. Great letter Mr. Pavone !!

Posted by: Pat at March 27, 2006 10:25 PM

Our hearts and prayers are with Terri's family and loved ones as they remember her today. It is our family's prayer that the horror of the long battle to save her will be replaced in time with happy memories of who she was. May God grant you peace and comfort.

No one would even dare to suggest starvation of death row prisoners because it would be a "cruel and unusual punishment" lacking humanity. Can you imagine the uproar that would cause? But, somehow, it is OK to starve the disabled.

Posted by: Asbell Family at March 28, 2006 10:34 AM

How can any of you speak with any authority on this subject.Could you all honestly sit there and watch someone who was once full of life just lay there and be hooked up to a feeding tube when there was absolutley NO hope for recovery.I am the daughter of Georgina Peterson. She was left in a vegitative state after giving birht to me. I remember going to she her and being told by her parents she knew I was there and she was going to get better. She never got better. She was kept in a nursing home for all those years and died whith out ever recovering at all. The staff at the home she was in would leave her laying there nude while they cleaned her up and changed her bed. How is that dignity? How is that quality of life?
This is all some selfish bid for the sake of loved ones not the patient! I can't imagine anyone would say go ahead and let me live in that state.I think it is very sad that we think more of the suffering of animals than we do people. I hope none of you ever have to make a decision that this. If you do may the lord be merciful to you and those you love.

Posted by: Brenda at March 28, 2006 2:51 PM

I commend Father Pavone - he speaks the truth and unfortunately no one wants to hear the truth. No one has the right to take away life. Has anyone ever sat down to think that perhaps this is God's will? Falling into coma or vegetative state, perhaps it is a journey that individual must take. Who are we to stop the journey?

Posted by: NVG at March 28, 2006 8:41 PM

I believe that Michael Schiavo did kill terri the night that she collapsed I think that Terri told him she wanted to divorce him or seperate and I think he told her that if she tried to leave him that he would kill her .. I honestly deep down think that is just what his little verse on her tombstone means " I kept my promise" I think that was his promise. Hes very smug and heartless and I think his new bride will soon see the real michael as well. I wish this man nothing but heartache in life and as karma goes what comes around goes around. May god have no mercy on his soul!

Posted by: Michelle at March 30, 2006 5:38 AM