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March 31, 2005



Cardinal Rigali offers prayers and condolences to the family of Terri Schindler Schiavo upon her death, following the removal of nutrition and hydration. She was a former member of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Southampton, Bucks County, and a 1981 graduate of Archbishop Wood High School, Warminster.

The death of Terri Schindler Schiavo has inspired the sympathy of millions of Americans. I offer my own condolences to the Schindler and Schiavo families. Although Terri Schiavo's death is an occasion for sadness for her family and loved ones, we are hopeful that she will share in the eternal life won by Jesus Christ through His Resurrection and offered to those who believe in Him.

Her medical condition prior to her death reminded us of the fragile character of life and our responsibility to care for one another in love. This responsibility is especially poignant when loved ones become incapacitated.

All human beings, regardless of their condition, are entitled to receive ordinary medical treatment, including nutrition and hydration, to meet their basic needs until the time that this treatment becomes burdensome, dangerous or disproportionate to the expected outcome.
In the case of Terri Schiavo the termination of nutrition and hydration resulted directly in her death. We can now foresee the day when anyone whose quality of life is contested may suffer the same fate. At the same time we can see ever more clearly, in the words of Pope John Paul II, the need for a great effort "to clarify the substantive moral difference between discontinuing medical procedures that may be burdensome, dangerous or disproportionate to the expected outcome...and taking away the ordinary means of preserving life, such as feeding, hydration and normal medical care."

I urge all people of good will to discuss end-of-life-care issues with family members in a manner that truly acknowledges God's dominion over human life and that deeply respects human life in all its stages, from conception until natural death.


Donna Farrell
Director of Communications

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