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An Open Letter To The Catholic Bishops of The United States - Please Act On Behalf Of Terri Schiavo And “Terri’s Law”

By BARBARA KRALIS November 13, 2003

(Editor’s Note: Following is the complete text of an open letter to the bishops of the United States, urging them to speak out and act on the Terri Schiavo case. Barbara Kralis, the letter’s author, writes for various Catholic publications, and is a member of the Catholic Media Coalition, an association of lay Catholic editors and writers ( She and her husband Mitch live in Howe, Texas, and codirect the Jesus Through Mary Foundation. Her letter to the bishops emphasizes: “We implore you to make the necessary, frequent admonitions and statements and courageously defend ‘Terri’s Law,’ defend Terri Schiavo, and defend the disabled and elderly who are in harm’s way.” Mrs. Kralis can be reached at:, phone 903‑532‑5555; fax: 903‑532‑6544, or by writing: 919 Harrell Rd., Howe, TX 75459.)


Your Excellencies:

Catholics across the country are imploring you, please, to make a positive, definitive statement on behalf of the life of cognitively disabled Terri Schiavo, and for all disabled and elderly persons suffering the same evil discrimination.

Having been subjected to a recent murderous withdrawal of hydration and nutrition, Terri’s life was threatened by her “right to die” guardian/husband. Her human and civil rights were gravely violated. Terri Schiavo is not nor was not terminally ill, nor was her death imminent, not until the ANAH (artificial nutrition and hydration) was withheld. By Holy Intervention Terri has survived and fully recovered from a most agonizing six-day starvation/dehydration ordeal.

Thousands of faithful Catholics from all over the nation have, with the grace of God and the help of the Thomas More Law Center, succeeded in their six-year or longer appeal to the Florida governor, to his legislators and judges, to intercede on Terri’s behalf and save her from this most horrific, monstrously painful death. Hundreds of thousands of lobbying efforts (phone calls, e-mails, faxes, and letters) were made right up until the “11th hour.” Many exhausted Catholic laity are gearing up now for the legislative battle.

Terri’s own Bishop [Robert] Lynch, as well as the entire Florida conference of bishops, did little if anything to defend her against her “right to die” guardian/husband and his notorious “right to kill” attorney, George Felos, both whom wanted to get rid of “the problem.” None of the U.S. bishops would intercede to stop the murderous attempt, to the immense enjoyment of those who ordinarily persecute and criticize the Catholic Church’s worldwide moral authority. Finally, eight days after Terri’s slow death commenced and two days after Gov. Jeb Bush intervened and ANAH was resumed, the Florida Conference of Bishops released statements saying Terri’s case needed further investigation. Too little, too late. Had we waited for the bishops to act, Terri would be dead today.

With the exception of Fox News Channel, spurious media coverage against Terri’s right to life was and still is sponsored by a “right to die” mentality at all national media levels, but this is no surprise to anyone. What is an enormous surprise is the lack of response by the USCCB; you let a “teaching moment” slip by.

While thousands of Catholic laity, in their pro-life apostolates, are working hard to educate the “right to die” mentality of the media to the truths of the Gospel of Life, shameful statements have emerged from Catholic clergy in public support to allow Terri to die a most horrible death. Catholic Georgetown University’s Fr. Kevin Wildes, Catholic Loyola University Medical School’s Fr. Kevin O’Rourke, medical ethicist, and St. Petersburg diocesan priest Fr. Gerard Murphy (whose gravely flawed testimony helped ensure the verdict that Terri Schiavo be allowed to starve and dehydrate to death), all purported to represent the official teachings of the Church with disturbing and erroneous views. There is ample documented refutation by renowned lay Catholic medical, scientific, and bioethical doctors regarding these flawed Church representations.

Of primary importance is the “right to kill” issue of withdrawal of ANAH from the disabled or elderly, a moral teaching which the Church has clearly defined many times. ANAH is never thought of as “extraordinary means,” but instead ordinary means or “palliative care.” For Catholics, it is morally permissible to refuse extraordinary means, but not morally permissible to refuse ordinary means, or “palliative care.”

The Church condemns withdrawal of ANAH intended to cause any patient’s death. (See: Charter for Health Care Workers; Evangelium Vitae; CDF [Congregation for ...

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