Cardinal McCarrick on Terri Schiavo Case
March 21, 2005
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, spoke today about the Terri Schiavo case. His remarks came at the end of a press conference, held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, to launch a new initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Campaign to End the Death Penalty:
"In a speech last year, Pope John Paul II affirmed the inherent dignity of every human being: 'Even our brothers and sisters who find themselves in the clinical condition of a 'vegetative state,' he said, ‘retain their human dignity in all its fullness.'
“The Holy Father said these patients have the right to basic health care, including nutrition and hydration. He reminded us that providing water and food, even by artificial means, is ‘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.’
“According to Church teaching, there are times when even such basic means may cease to be morally obligatory, because they have become useless or unduly burdensome for the patient. But deliberately to remove them in order to hasten a patient's death would be a form of euthanasia, which we believe is gravely wrong.
“Along with the Chairman of our Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, Cardinal [William] Keeler, the Archbishop of Baltimore, I applaud the Feb. 28 statement of the Catholic bishops of Florida, applying this teaching to the Schiavo case. The bishops reiterated their plea that she ‘continue to receive all treatments and care that will be of benefit to her.’ We join with them in praying that those who hold power over Terri Schiavo's fate will see that she ‘continues to receive nourishment, comfort and loving care.’
"On March 18, just a couple of days ago, the executive director of our Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities issued a statement strongly supporting legislation to provide Terri Schiavo access to the federal court so that her case can be presented therein."
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