November 9, 2003

The Very Reverend Bishop Wilton B. Gregory
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Your Excellency:

An unprecedented phenomenon in the struggle between the sanctity of
life and the culture of death confronts us. A hitherto unknown Catholic
woman, Mrs. Theresa Schindler Schiavo, has become a unifying symbol for the
disabled, the abandoned, and those persons for whom society has no use. [See] Terri Schiavo, a 39 year-old Florida woman rendered
cognitively disabled from an undetermined cause, embodies the
characteristics of persons whose lives appear to lack "quality," whom a
pagan society would willingly eliminate through court ordered euthanasia.

Theresa Schiavo is alive today for one reason only: she has an intact
family. That family, father and mother, brother and sister have fought
valiantly to save her life from an adulterous husband who relentlessly seeks
her death by the barbaric method of dehydration/starvation. In our society
where the family is maligned and constantly under attack, the Schindlers
admirably demonstrate what we know a family should be.

The Schiavo case is purposefully being used as a wedge to further the
cause of physician assisted suicide and to bring euthanasia within the legal
boundaries of the Constitution under the same ruse of privacy rights that
are employed to kill the pre-born. After all, there's not much difference
between an umbilical cord and a feeding tube, is there? The resemblance
between Schindler vs Schiavo and Roe vs Wade is unmistakable.

The instant recognition by a massive grassroots citizenry that the
Schiavo case involves the intentional killing of a living, non-terminal,
disabled person became so powerful that it awakened a nation. With the
media in tow and the Internet on fire, Terri Schiavo became a household
name. The outcry against injustice was so great that the governor and
legislative body of a highly politically volatile state acted within
forty-eight hours to confirm a singular law, i.e. Terri's Law, to prevent
the starvation death of Mrs. Schiavo.

The crescendo of Terri's Fight has brought the life issues crashing to the
front of many minds. With so much misinformation in the public square, our
Catholic people are confused regarding the Church's teaching. Many senior
citizens are signing Living Wills that make them vulnerable to being denied
food and water like Terri Schiavo. Therefore, we ask our bishops to publicly
enunciate the Church's teaching regarding euthanasia, physician assisted suicide, and
the moral requirements of care for all sick and disabled individuals as well
as those facing a terminal illness. Catholics need to know that food and
water, no matter in what form they are delivered, are the God-given right of
all persons. The removal of nutrition/hydration with the subsequent intent
to cause death, as in the case of Mrs. Schiavo, is strictly forbidden by
Catholic moral teaching.

The Terri Schiavo case is now widely known and recognized by many for
what it is, the ideological struggle between the spiritual forces who revere
the sanctity of life and the utilitarian forces who have scant regard for
humanity in its compromised states. Not surprisingly, the liberal media
elites have misrepresented the facts of the case. Unfortunately, this bias
has not been missing from the statements and writings of certain misguided
priests: Fr. Desmond Daly and Fr.Gerald Murphy of the St. Petersburg
Diocese, Fr. Kevin O'Rourke, O.P. who was interviewed by the Miami Herald,
and Fr. Kevin Wildes, S.J. who appeared on Nightline. All have publicly
misstated Church teaching and justified what the Catechism of the Catholic
Church (CCC) forbids: "an act or omission (our emphasis) which of itself or
by intention causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a
murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person." The scandal of
these priests publicly advocating Terri's murder by neglect must be undone.
The overarching culture of death and societal injustice cuts across all
diocesan and state boundaries threatening many, but Terri, a daughter of the
Church, is in imminent danger at this moment. So we call upon this body of
bishops to make a strong, unequivocal, public defense of her life with all
possible haste.

Throughout the years we have been more than disappointed that decisive
public action from our bishops has not been forthcoming regarding vital
pro-life issues. Its absence has been particularly shocking in the case of
Terri Schiavo and other disabled individuals dehydrated to death in the
judicial coliseum with a complicit media giving its thumbs down. Where is
the bishops' prophetic voice addressing these atrocities? Your startling
absence from the public square as the laity battle these monumental
injustices is a scandal to all people. Terri and others like her need your
vigorous public defense. The situation is urgent! We have named November
30th, the first Sunday of Advent, Theresa Schindler Schiavo Day. We will be
doing all we can to raise awareness of her plight among Catholics of the
United States. We beg for your assistance. In all sincerity and hope, we
pray that at the conclusion of this November 2003 conference you will issue
a strong public statement condemning euthanasia and supporting the right to
life of Theresa Schindler Schiavo, our sister in Christ.

Assuring you of our constant prayers we remain
Sincerely in Christ,

Mary Ann Kreitzer, President Catholic Media Coalition