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Terri Schiavo
Church Documents & Bishops' Statements

 Church Documents, Statements, etc. | Bishops' Statements

Church Documents, Statements, etc.

Statement of Cardinal Renato Martino, on Terri Schiavo,
President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Vatican City,
March 7, 2005

"Life-sustaining Treatments and 'Vegetative state': Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas" (March 20, 2004) John Paul II, Address to the Participants at the International Congress

Pope John Paul II: Bishops Must Stand Firmly on the Side of Life -- Encouraging Those Who Defend It Against the Culture of Death - ad limina address to US bishops (October 2, 1998) - Quote follows:

"As ecumenical witness in defense of life develops, a great teaching effort is needed to clarify the substantive moral difference between discontinuing medical procedures that may be burdensome, dangerous or disproportionate to the expected outcome -- what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls "the refusal of 'over-zealous' treatment" (No. 2278; cf Evangelium Vitae, 65) -- and taking away the ordinary means of preserving life, such as feeding, hydration and normal medical care.

"The statement of the United States Bishops' Pro-Life Committee, Nutrition and Hydration: Moral and Pastoral Considerations* , rightly emphasizes that the omission of nutrition and hydration intended to cause a patient's death must be rejected and that, while giving careful consideration to all the factors involved, the presumption should be in favor of providing medically assisted nutrition and hydration to all patients who need them.

"To blur this distinction is to introduce a source of countless injustices and much additional anguish, affecting both those already suffering from ill health or the deterioration which comes with age, and their loved ones."

* to access on the US bishops' web site click here .

Evangelium Vitae - The Gospel of Life - Encyclical (March 25, 1995) John Paul II

Posted March 22, 2004
VATICAN CITY, MAR 20, 2004 (VIS) - Today in the Clementine Hall John Paul II received 400 participants in an international congress promoted by the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC) and by the Pontifical Academy for Life.

After recalling that conference members focussed on the theme of the clinical condition known as the "vegetative state," the Pope affirmed that "the intrinsic value and the personal dignity of every human being do not change, no matter what the specific circumstances of their life. Human beings, even if they are seriously ill and impaired in the exercise of their highest functions, are and always will be human beings and will never become 'vegetables' or 'animals'. Our sisters and brothers who are in a 'vegetative state' fully preserve their dignity."

"Physicians and health workers, society and the Church have a moral duty toward these persons which they cannot shirk, without neglecting the requirements of professional deontology as well as Christian and human solidarity. Sick people in a vegetative state, waiting to recover or for a natural end, have the right to basic health care (nutrition, hydration, hygiene, warmth, etc)."

The Holy Father emphasized that water and food, even when administered artificially, are "a natural means of preserving life, not a medical procedure. Therefore, their use must be considered ordinary and appropriate and as such, morally obligatory."

The probability that there is little hope for recovery, "when the vegetative state lasts longer than a year, cannot ethically justify abandoning or interrupting basic care, including food and hydration, of a patient." Death by starvation or dehydration carried out "consciously or deliberately is truly euthanasia by omission."

The Pope recalled the "moral principal according to which even the slightest doubt of being in the presence of a person who is alive requires full respect and prohibits any action that would anticipate his or her death. . The value of the life of a man cannot be subjected to the judgement of quality expressed by other men; it is necessary to promote positive activities to counteract pressure for the suspension of food and hydration, as a means to putting an end to the life of these patients."

"Above all," he added, "we must support the families" that have a patient in the vegetative state. "We cannot leave them alone with the heavy human, economic and psychological weight." Society must promote "specific programs of assistance and rehabilitation; economic support and help at home for the family; . and support structures when there are no family members able to address the problem." In addition, he said, volunteers provide "fundamental support to help the family to escape isolation and to help them to feel a valuable part of society and not abandoned by social institutions."

John Paul II ended by emphasizing that "in these situations spiritual and pastoral help is especially important in order to understand the deeper meaning of a seemingly desperate situation."

Cardinal Martino Appeals for Terri Schiavo

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 24, 2005 ( A Vatican official launched an appeal to save Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman whose husband wants her off life-support care.

On Wednesday a Florida judge ordered the tube delivering food and water to Schiavo kept in place another 48 hours.

Pinellas County Circuit Judge George Greer said he needed time to consider legal challenges raised by the woman's parents, including the possibility that her husband, Michael Schiavo, was unfit to act as her guardian.

In statements on Vatican Radio, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said: "If Mr. Schiavo succeeds legally in causing the death of his wife, this not only would be tragic in itself, but would be a grave step toward the legal approval of euthanasia in the United States."

He added: "I would like to remind everyone in this connection, about all that the Holy Father has said in past days to the Pontifical Academy for Life, confirming that the quality of life is not interpreted as economic success, beauty and physical pleasure, but consists in the supreme dignity of the creature made in the image and likeness of God.

"No one can be the arbiter of life except God himself."


Bishops' Statements
CWNews article :
Bishops weigh in on Terri Schiavo (30 perspectives, updated Friday, April 1, 2005)

WFF list of statements in alphabetical order

Bishop Joseph Adamec
Bishop Robert J. Baker
Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito
Bishop J. Kevin Boland

Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski
Bishop Lawrence Brandt
Archbishop Alex J. Brunett

Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein
Archbishop Raymond Burke
Bishop Frederick F. Campbell
Archbishop Charles Chaput
Bishop Matthew H. Clark
Archbishop Elden F. Curtiss
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio
Archbishop Timothy Dolan

Archbishop Emeritus John F. Donoghue
Archbishop John C. Favalora
Florida Bishops Conference
Bishop David Foley

Bishop Joseph Galante
Bishop Victor Galeone

Archbishop Wilton Gregory
Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes
Cardinal William Keeler
Bishop John F. Kinney

Bishop Edward Kmiec
Bishop Jerome E. Listecki

Bishop Paul S. Loverde
Bishop Robert N. Lynch
Cardinal Adam Maida
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick

Bishop John J. Nevins
Bishop John C. Nienstedt
Bishop Anthony Pilla
Bishop John H. Ricard

Cardinal Justin Rigali
Diocese of Scranton

Bishop Arthur Serratelli
Bishop Michael J. Sheridan
Bishop Robert F. Vasa
Bishop Thomas G. Wenski
Bishop Donald W. Wuerl

Bishop Joseph Adamec
Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown
FOR THE GOOD OF THE HOUSEHOLD: April 4, 2005 "MAKING LIGHT OF LIFE" found on the Diocese website
Broken link as of 4/12/2005.

Bishop Robert J. Baker
Bishop of Charleston
Bishop Robert J. Baker's statement on the death of Terri Schiavo

Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito
Diocese of Palm Beach

Statement from Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito, "Regarding the Death of Terri Schiavo"
March 31, 2005

Bishop J. Kevin Boland
Diocese of Savannah
Statement on Terri Schiavo

Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski
Diocese of Metuchen
The Most Rev. Paul G. Bootkoski, Bishop of Metuchen Statement on Terri Schiavo
-- March 31, 2005
found on the Metuchen Diocese website

Bishop Lawrence Brandt
Bishop of Greensburg
Statement from Bishop Brandt on the Death of Terri Schiavo -- March 31, 2005
found on the Greensburg Diocese Website

Archbishop Alex J. Brunett
Archdiocese of Seattle

Statement on the Death of Terri Schiavo
March 31, 2005

Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein
Archdiocese of Indianapolis

"Terri Schiavo reminds us that only God is the Lord of Life"
April 8, 2005 - Archbishop column in The Criterion

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke
Archdiocese of St. Louis
April 8, 2005

The evil of so-called euthanasia , by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke -- link to the St. Louis Review.

Statement of Archbishop Raymond L. Burke
Regarding the Death of Terri Schindler Schiavo

With great sadness, I have learned of the death of Terri Schindler Schiavo. I pray for her eternal rest and for the intentions of her family who mourn the loss of her earthly company. May she rest in peace.

My sadness at the death of Terri Schiavo is also sadness for our nation, in which the most basic care, that is nutrition and hydration, was denied to a citizen with special needs, not because she was dying but because the "quality" of her life was judged by us not to be sufficient to merit our care. She who had the first title to our care was left to die by our premeditated and deliberate failure to provide her food and water. To cause the death of an innocent human being by denying nutrition and hydration is contrary to the natural moral law and a barbaric act. I pray that those charged with the governance of our nation will take appropriate action to end the grave evil of so-called "mercy killing" and to safeguard the respect for the dignity of the life of our fellow citizens who are burdened with advanced years, serious illness or special needs.

I ask Christ's faithful in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and all people of good will in the metropolitan community, to pray for Terri Schindler Schiavo and her family, and to pray for our nation.

(Most Rev.) Raymond L. Burke
Archbishop of St. Louis
March 31, 2005

The Archdiocese will host a memorial mass for Terri Schiavo on Tues., April 12, 2005 - 7 pm at Immacolata Catholic Church, 8900 Clayton Rd., Richmond Heights, MO 63117

Bishop Frederick F. Campbell
Diocese of Columbus

Diocese Mourns Death of Terri Schiavo -- March 31, 2005
Bishop Campbell Asks Prayers for Terri Schiavo and Her Family -- March 24, 2005 - link broken 6/14/05
Quote from statement:
"It is particularly appropriate that during this time when we remember and contemplate in our liturgies the suffering and death of our Lord, that we hold in prayer Terri Schiavo and her family in their suffering."

Archbishop Charles Chaput
Archdiocese of Denver

Statement by Archbishop Chaput on the death of Terri Schiavo
-- March 31 , 2005

Statement by Archbishop Chaput on Terry Schiavo
March 22, 2005

"The bishops and lay faithful of Florida have the task of leading American Catholics in the Terri Schiavo case. They're working hard to provide that leadership. Our job, outside Florida, is to support Ms. Schiavo and all those concerned for her well-being with our prayers. We especially need to pray for Ms. Schiavo's family.

"At the same time, in the shadow of Holy Week and Easter, the Schiavo case does have wider implications. Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has already expressed his fear that allowing Ms. Schiavo to starve would be 'a grave step toward the legal approval of euthanasia in the United States.' He speaks for many other concerned persons around the world.

"Removing food and water from a patient can only be justified if the person is terminal, and natural death is imminent. For disabled persons not in imminent danger of death and able to breathe on their own, starvation and dehydration to provoke death amount, in effect, to a form of murder. Such actions attack the sanctity of human life. They reject any redemptive meaning to suffering. They can never be justified."

+Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Denver

Bishop Matthew H. Clark
Diocese of Rochester

Statement of Bishop Matthew H. Clark "On the Death of Terri Schiavo" -- broken link 6/13/2005
Quote from Statement:

"In the days and weeks to come, all Catholics are encouraged to make an effort to more fully understand and contemplate our Church’s teachings on the dignity of every human life and to ensure that family members and health care providers know and understand their beliefs and wishes regarding their heath care."

Archbishop Elden F. Curtiss
Archdiocese of Omaha

Archbishop Elden F. Curtiss
Archdiocese of Omaha
Press Release -- March 24, 2005
Statement from Archbishop Elden F. Curtiss regarding Terri Schiavo:

The Vatican recently issued a statement that Terri Schiavo is facing a cruel death if she is denied nutrition and hydration. The action taken against Terri last Friday by her estranged husband Michael, and tragically upheld by the courts, can be viewed as nothing other than direct euthanasia-an action which of itself and by intention causes death, with the purported purpose of eliminating suffering. Direct euthanasia is gravely immoral and contrary to the law of God, since it offends the dignity of the human person and the respect due to the Creator, the author of all life.

Until this week, Terri Schiavo was not a person in the final stages of the dying process. Removal of nutrition and hydration to such persons could be viewed as legitimate, if, for example, the body was no longer able to process the nutrition or if the continuation of such measures were excessively burdensome to the sick person. Rather, Terri Schiavo is a profoundly disabled person, who, like the rest of us, needs food and fluids to survive.

A year ago, Pope John Paul II addressed the situation of persons like Terri Schiavo in an address to the participants in the International Congress on "Life-sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas," noting explicitly that nutrition and hydration must be provided, even if artificially delivered:

"The sick person in a vegetative state, awaiting recovery or a natural end, still has the right to basic health care (nutrition, hydration, cleanliness, warmth, etc.), and to the prevention of complications related to his confinement to bed. He also has the right to appropriate rehabilitative care and to be monitored for clinical signs of eventual recovery.

I should like particularly to underline how the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act. Its use, furthermore, should be considered, in principle, ordinary and proportionate, and as such 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" (n. 4, emphasis in original).

As Terri undergoes her own journey to Calvary this Holy Week, my thoughts and prayers are with Terri and the Schindler family.

+Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio
Bishop of Brooklyn
"Suffering and Death Lead to Glory "
The Tablet --  April 2, 2005
found on the Diocese of Brooklyn website

Archbishop Timothy Dolan
Archdiocese of Milwaukee

Archbishop Dolan's Statement on the Death of Terri Schiavo
broken link 6/27/2005

Archbishop Emeritus John F. Donoghue
Atlanta Archdiocese
Statement Concerning the Terri Schiavo Case

September 19, 2003 found on the Atlanta Archdiocese Website

Archbishop John C. Favalora
Archdiocese of Miami

Archbishop's statement on the death of Terri Schiavo -- March 31, 2005

Archbishop John C. Favalora Issues Statement Calling for Prayer for Terri Schiavo
March 19, 2005

Posted March 3, 2005
Florida Bishops Conference : Continued Concerns for Terri Schiavo
Florida Bishops on Terri Schiavo

Florida Bishops Urge Safer Course for Terri Schiavo - August 28, 2003
Florida Bishops issued a statement 8/27/2003 regarding Terri Schiavo's case.
Go to:

Bishop David E. Foley
"Statement on the Death of Terri Schindler Schiavo"

March 31, 2005
found on the Diocese of Birmingham website.

Bishop Joseph Galante
Bishop of Camden

Statement of Bishop Joseph Galante, Bishop of Camden, "On the death of Terri Schiavo" -- 3/31/2005

Statement of Bishop Joseph Galante on the Terri Schiavo case -- 3/22/05  

Statements found on the Camden Diocese website 

Bishop Victor Galeone
Diocese of Saint Augustine

Statement from Bishop Victor Galeone on the Death of Terri Schiavo
March 31, 2005

Archbishop Wilton Gregory
Archbishop of Atlanta
"Statement of Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory regarding the Death of Terri Schiavo"

Found on the Atlanta Archdiocese website

Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes
Archdiocese of New Orleans

Death and dying in Florida and in Rome
Clarion Herald Column April 6, 2005 Edition

Terri Schiavo and a Probing Question About Life
Clarion Herald Column November 5 , 2003 Edition

USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat
March 31, 2005
FROM: William Ryan
O: 202-541-3200
H: 202-686-1824


WASHINGTON" Cardinal William H. Keeler, chairman of the U.S. Bishops, Committee for Pro-Life Activities, made the following statement today on the death of Terri Schiavo.

We mourn the tragic death of Terri Schindler Schiavo, who died today from dehydration and starvation.

Terri Schiavo's plight brought to light a critical question: To be a society that is truly human, how should we care for those most helpless patients who cannot speak for themselves?

A year ago Pope John Paul II answered this question, when he reaffirmed that "the administration of food and water, even when provided by artificial means," should be considered "morally obligatory" as long as it provides nourishment and alleviates suffering for such patients.

"Any man's death diminishes me," said the poet John Donne, "because I am involved in mankind." We are all diminished by this woman's death, a death that speaks to the moral confusion we face today. Ours is a culture in which human life is increasingly devalued and violated, especially where that life is most weak and fragile.

We pray this human tragedy will lead our nation to a greater commitment to protect helpless patients and all the weakest among us. "Yes, every man is his 'brother's keeper,'" as the Holy Father teaches "because God entrusts us to one another" (The Gospel of Life, 19).

May the soul of Theresa Marie Schindler Schiavo rest in the peace and mercy of God. And may God have mercy on our society which failed to protect this innocent human life.

Posted March 14, 2005
Cardinal Keeler Issues Statement on Florida Schiavo Case; Stresses Church Teaching on Feeding, Hydration

USCCB Pro-Life Committee - Schiavo statement March 9, 2005 [on the USCCB website]

Bishop John F. Kinney
Bishop of Saint Cloud

March 31, 2005
Bishop Kinney offers prayers for Terri Schiavo and ailing Pope John Paul II

Bishop Edward Kmiec
Diocese of Buffalo
"Statement of Bishop Kmiec on the death of Terri Schiavo "
found on the Diocese website

Bishop John J. Leibrecht
Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau

Ethical Directives During Serious Illness
Walking Together
April 8, 2005

Recent publicity regarding Terri Schiavo occasioned many discussions regarding Catholic principles which can shed light on the care of seriously ill people.  Those discussions will likely continue in the months ahead.  Here are a few principles provided by the bishops of the United States:

A person has a moral obligation to use ordinary or proportionate means of preserving his or her life.  Proportionate means are those that in the judgment of the patient offer a reasonable hope of benefit and do not entail an excessive burden or impose excessive expense on the family or the community.

A person may forgo extraordinary or disproportionate means of preserving life.  Disproportionate means are those that in the patient’s judgment do not offer a reasonable hope of benefit or entail an excessive burden, or impose excessive expense on the family or the community.

The free and informed judgment made by a competent adult patient concerning the use or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures should always be respected and normally complied with, unless it is contrary to Catholic moral teaching.

There should be a presumption in favor of providing nutrition and hydration to all patients, including patients who require medically assisted nutrition and hydration, as long as this is of sufficient benefit to outweigh the burdens involved to the patient.

The complete statement is online at

Bishop Jerome E. Listecki
Bishop of LaCrosse

Bishop Listecki Speaks out on Terri Schiavo
Statement of the Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki on the Death of Terri Schiavo -- March 31, 2005

Found on the LaCrosse Diocese Website

Bishop Paul S. Loverde
Arlington Diocese
Bishop Loverde's Statement on Terri Schiavo -- March 21, 2005
Bishop Loverde on Terri Schiavo Death -- March 31, 2005

Both found on the Diocese of Arlington's website

Posted March 3, 2005
Statement of Bishop Robert N. Lynch

Cardinal Adam Maida
Archbishop of Detroit

Cardinal Maida reacts to the Death of Terri Schiavo -- March 31, 2005

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick
Archbishop of Washington, DC

Cardinal McCarrick on Terri Schiavo's Death

March 31, 2005

Cardinal McCarrick on Terri Schiavo Case

March 21, 2005

Bishop John J. Nevins
Bishop of Venice

Statement from Bishop John J. Nevins on the Death of Terri Schiavo, 3/31/05

Bishop John C. Nienstedt
Diocese of New Ulm

News Release #376
Released to media on March 23, 2005
"Terri Schiavo"

News Release #377
Released to media on March 31, 2005
Death of Terri Schiavo

found on the New Ulm website

Bishop Anthony M. Pilla
Diocese of Cleveland
Statement of Cleveland Bishop Anthony M. Pilla on the Death of Terri Schiavo
"Bishop Pilla Mourns Tragic Death of Terri Schiavo"

Bishop John H. Ricard
Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee

Statement of Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, on the death of Terri Schiavo
March 31, 2005

Posted March 15, 2005
Cardinal Justin Rigali's Statement Regarding the Case of Terri Schindler Schiavo
--March 14, 2005

Cardinal Justin Rigali's Statement Regarding the Death of Terri Schindler Schiavo -- March 31, 2005

Found on the Philadelphia Archdiocese Website

Diocese of Scranton
Statement on Death of Terri Schiavo
March 31, 2005
Press Release from the Office of Communications

Bishop Arthur Serratelli
Diocese of Paterson

Bishop Serratelli's Weekly Column:
Courts Deal Death To Disabled: Terri Schiavo, End or Beginning?
April 12,2005

Bishop Michael J. Sheridan
Diocese of Colorado Springs

If you want peace, choose life, January 7, 2005

November 12, 2003
Bishop Robert F. Vasa
, the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Baker, Oregon issued a statement defending the right to life of the severely disabled Florida woman.

Epic battle brewing in Florida over value of 'imperfect' life, 03/04/2005 Bishop Robert Vasa

Posted March 31, 2005
Bishop Thomas G. Wenski:The Passion of Terri Schiavo
March 20, 2005

Bishop Wenski's Column
Terri Schiavo - March 18, 2005

Bishop Donald W. Wuerl
Bishop of Pittsburgh

"Reflection on Nutrution and Hydration"
Holy Week 2005
found on the Pittsburgh Diocese website

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