03/22/2005, 00.00
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Terri Schiavo, the passion of a life deemed "useless" by society

The Osservatore Romano describes the judge's decision as "absurd and horrifying"

Tampa (AsiaNews/CWN) -- A federal judge declined, today, to order that a feeding tube be returned to disabled woman Terri Schiavo, saying that her parents had not established a likelihood of success if the case went to trial.  US District Judge James Whittemore, a Clinton appointee, had been given jurisdiction over the case by an unusual federal law passed by Congress on Sunday and signed early Monday morning by President George W. Bush.  

In an article that will appear in tomorrow's edition, the Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's official newspaper, strongly condemns the judge's decision in the case of Terri Schiavo, a women of 41 years of age who has been artificially fed for the past 15 years.  "Absurd and horrifying" are the words used by the Vatican paper to describe the decison of Judge Whittemore, who turned down an request for an injuction made by Terri's parent who, unlike her husband, want that she continues to be fed. 

In its strongly-worded article, the Osservatore Romano writes: "Judge Whittemore has decided that Terri's life is not worth living", condemning the woman "to an atrocious death: one by hunger and thirst.  "Yet, Terri has committed no crime," the Vatican paper affirms, "if not that of being "useless" to the eyes of a society that is not able to appreciate and defend the gift of life.  Of every life." 

Terri Schiavo has not been fed for the past 4 days, ever since the tube that had been nourishing her was removed.  Despite statements by her husband, Michael, according to whom Terry is in a persistent vegetative state, her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, say that their daughter is conscious of those around her and interacts with people close to her. Barbara Weller, the Schindler's lawyer, said that on Friday, before the feeding tube was removed, she had told Terri that the entire debate over her would come to an end if only she could say that wanted to live.  At that, according to attorney Weller, Terri began vocalizing loudly, straining to make noises.   Weller said, "To my enormous shock and surprise, Terri's eyes opened wide, she looked me square in the face, and with a look of great concentration, she said, 'Ahhhhhhh.' Then, seeming to summon up all the strength she had, she virtually screamed, 'Waaaaaaaa.'"  

While various civil liberties activists contend that the artificial feeding tube constitutes extraordinary end-of-life care, last year Pope John Paul stated unequivocally that, even if it is provided through outside assistance, food and water should never be considered extraordinary means from a moral perspective. 

Meanwhile, in an article published by the Orlando Sentinel, the Bishop of Orlando, Monsignor Thomas Wenski, compared Terri's agony to Christ's Passion.  "Holy Week begins with the Passion of Terri Schiavo," Msgr Wenski writes.  "This week, in recalling Jesus' Passover from death to life, we celebrate the fact that the misterium iniquitatis (mystery of evil) is overcome through the misterium crucis (the mystery of the cross).  From the cross Jesus cried out, and his cry is echoed today by all those held captive to a world of pain and sin.  As Terri shares in his passion," Bishop Wenski concludes, "she will share in his Resurrection. Like Jesus did, Terri Schiavo cries out, though with muted voice: "I thirst!" (LF)

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