WASHINGTON (March 24, 2005)—Cardinal William H. Keeler, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, made the following statement today regarding the case of Terri Schiavo, a woman at the heart of a controversy over withholding nutrition and hydration from people with cognitive disabilities.
Cardinal Keeler's statement follows.
Terri Schiavo remains at the center of a dispute as our nation's citizens follow the news with growing horror. Now this severely disabled woman is dying slowly from being denied food and water. Since her feeding tube was removed on March 18, her parents reportedly are not even allowed to wet her parched lips.
As the Catholic bishops of Florida recently said, Terri Schindler Schiavo is a "defenseless human being with inherent dignity" who deserves care and respect. Her serious disabilities make her no less a child of God. She deserves no less than human care and the respect due every human being. She is not in a coma, she is not on "life support." She needs only basic care and assistance in obtaining food and water. When her feeding tube was removed last week it ensured that death will follow, for none of us can sustain our lives without such nourishment.
Our hearts go out to Terri Schiavo's parents and siblings who continue to do everything humanly possible to keep Terri from a death by starvation. We are all indebted to the many valiant people across this nation who continue to pray, witness and make their voices heard to reverse this tragic situation. And we extend our gratitude to President Bush, members of Congress and public officials in Florida for their efforts to give her a chance to live.
God will call Terri Schiavo to Himself when it is her time to die. It is not for us to determine when that time is.