Terri Schiavo, Martyr
Terrible injustices sometimes mark turning points in the political history of Nations. The announced “International Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Terri Schindler Schiavo” is an impetus to build a new coalition for life, family, freedom and solidarity. Terri’s martyrdom must not have been in vain.
The above stills are from a video of Terry. It deeply touched my heart and it is seared forever in my memory. In that video, Terri is asked by the examiner to open her eyes. At first, nothing. Then, within ten or so seconds, her eyes flicker, she opens them, and then opens them so wide her forehead wrinkles. It is clearly an intentional response to the question.
In commenting on the day of remembrance, Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life stated, "Those of us who were with Terri will never forget her life and her death. For the sake of all the vulnerable, it is critically important that those who never knew Terri likewise remember the lessons that God taught us through her."
Suzanne Vitadamo, Terri’s sister added, "No family should ever have to witness what my family witnessed, watching a loved one slowly dehydrate to death… We want Terri's Day to remind us all that persons with disabilities are never burdens and should be treated with nothing but our unconditional love and compassion."
The National effort will include educational and prayer materials which will be made available to in the early weeks of 2008 parishes, congregations, disability awareness groups and pro-life efforts throughout the Nation. Terrible injustices sometimes mark turning points in the political history of Nations. The announced “International Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Terri Schindler Schiavo”, is an impetus to build a new coalition for life, family, freedom and solidarity. Terri’s martyrdom must not have been in vain.
I remember that dark day as if it were yesterday. The news out of Pinellas Park, Florida broke the hearts of all decent people. It shook us to the core.
Terri Schiavo was dead, intentionally deprived of food and water, with the force of the raw power of government holding the hands of the executioners.
She was killed deliberately, by starvation and dehydration. No Court, Legislative body or Chief Executive had the courage to stop this killing. She was deprived of her substantive due process rights by every branch of government.
Terri was not dying. She was not receiving any "extraordinary medical treatment." She was being fed and given water, as many disabled people are at this very moment, with assistance. She had trouble swallowing because she was disabled by damage to her brain.
She would have lived for many, many years, bringing great joy to her family and changing the world. But now she is dead; killed by the complete abject failure of a system that has lost its soul.
The Greek word for "witness" is "martyrion". In our use of the word over all these centuries of Christian history, we have emphasized those who shed their blood for the faith. However, there is also a tradition of "white martyrs", those who live sacrificial lives that change the world.
That is what Terri did. None of us will forget her smile. We all adopted her beautiful family. We now mourn her loss and share, at least a little, in their deep pain. We must also become outraged at the sheer evil of this killing and we must act.
Terri Schiavo is a martyr. She had her life taken away by the enforcers of a New Rome. Remember, the old Rome also had an elaborate system of courts and a highly developed legislative system. It prided itself on its culture, its arts and its claims to "civilization." Yet, it legally sanctioned horrors such as the practice of exposure, where children, the disabled and other "unwanted" persons were left on rocks to die by exposure to the elements or to be killed by hostile passers by. We now do the same.
The killing of Terri Schindler must mark a turning point in American history. Terri was killed while "the law" was unwilling to intervene. Her death stripped away the veneer of civility painted on the face of the current culture of death. It was a diabolical event, plain and simple.
The rejection of the inherent value of every human life as a foundation of our whole understanding of ordered liberty is a clear and present danger. We face a serious risk to both life and liberty when reference to the truth is removed as the measuring stick for our behavior. Authentic freedom has been replaced by a counterfeit. The very foundation of decency is shaken.
To honor Terri, we should dedicate ourselves to the long term work of building a new society, a culture of life and civilization of love, where the dignity of every human life will be the polestar of all public policy; marriage and family will be protected as the first mediating institution and defended against those who aim to replace and eradicate them; authentic freedom will be exercised in reference to truth and within a moral constitution, and our obligations in solidarity to one another, and most especially those who have no voice, will be upheld by elected and unelected public servants.
With all the talk of the "religious influence" in America, the martyrdom of Terri Schiavo reveals the lack of a national soul. Terri was killed in a manner reminiscent of past evil regimes.
I am reminded of the old adage attributed to the English Philosopher Alisdair Macintyre who, commenting on the decay in English society, once said "The Creed of the English is that there is no God but it is proper to pray to him once in a while." Without reference to the Source of unalienable rights, the One who placed the hunger for true justice within every human heart, we have become unmoored as a Nation.
Terrible injustices sometimes mark turning points in the political history of Nations. I pray that Terri’s death becomes such an event; an impetus for a new coalition for life, family, freedom and solidarity. If it does, Terri’s martyrdom will not have been in vain.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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