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March 14, 2005


Cardinal Rigali strongly opposes the expected removal of nutrition and hydration from Terri Schindler Schiavo, a severely brain damaged woman in Florida. A native of Bucks County, Ms. Schiavo is a former member of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Southampton, Bucks County, and a 1981 graduate of Archbishop Wood High School, Warminster.

"Americans are watching with concern the plight of Terri Schindler Schiavo in Florida. It is a tragic situation that has grave implications for the future treatment of those who are vulnerable and reliant upon someone else to provide their sustenance and decide the level of medical care they receive. In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, where Terri Schindler was a parishioner and a graduate of one of our high schools, we watch and pray with particular interest in her case. I urge most strongly that those charged with her care provide life-sustaining nutrition and hydration.

Mrs. Schiavo must continue to receive such ordinary treatments to meet her basic needs until the time they become life threatening or harmful. Removing food and hydration now will amount to a very painful death. It also may hasten the day when anyone deemed not living a life of subjective quality – by whose definition? – may suffer the same fate. This evil, if permitted, will end the life of one woman and place all of us in peril.

Terri Schiavo and all those who rely on others for their basic needs remain worthy of care because of their dignity as children of God. In the Gospel of Life (papal encyclical written in 1995), Pope John Paul II wrote, ‘God alone has the power over life and death. But he only exercises this power in accordance with a plan of wisdom and love. When man usurps this power, being enslaved by a foolish and selfish way of thinking, he inevitably uses it for injustice and death. Thus the life of the person who is weak is put into the hands of the one who is strong; in society the sense of justice is lost...'

The Catholic bishops of Florida have strongly urged that Mrs. Schiavo should receive "all treatments and care that will be of benefit to her." I call on the faithful in the Archdiocese to join with me in prayer for Mrs. Schiavo, for her family and for all those charged with her life. I pray she receives the nourishment, hydration and loving care she needs until the Lord of Life calls her to His eternal home."


Matt Gambino
Associate Director

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