Christ among the Doctors of the Law



Friday, March 18, 2005

Emergency Fast for Terri Schiavo

Can we consider emergency fasting for Terri Schiavo?

"Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable. Thus an act or omission 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 and to the respect due to the living God, his creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded." Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2277. Moreover, "A person who commits a to be punished according to the gravity of the delict." 1983 CIC 1397. Imposing a starvation/parching death on Terri Schiavo would violate both of the norms, even if Terri had asked for it (which I strongly doubt).

"The New Law practices the acts of religion: almsgiving, prayer, and fasting, directing them to the Father who sees in secret..." CCCC no. 1969. Lent is an especially appropriate time to offer up fasts. CCC nos. 1434, 1438.

Fast Options: 1) a Bread and Water* fast until Terri is fed again; or 2) a Good Friday fast (one meal per day, two smaller ones if necessary, and no meat) until Terri is fed again; or 3) no snacking or eating out till Terri is fed again; or 4) some physical sacrifice for Terri, her husband and his lawyer, all those defending Terri, and all those attacking her. Any of these still allow us far more food and water than Terri is getting, but if you have any questions about your own ability to fast, check with a qualified advisor, and follow his or her advice. Never eliminate fluids, especially water, even for what might seem short periods of time. May God bless Terri, and may God bless our country.

Updates, March 19-22: 1) Congressional legislation seems poised to restore Terri's food and water. But that HAS NOT HAPPENED yet, and prayers are still urgently needed until she is actually being fed again. 2) I would like to acknowledge the many people who have contacted me (I keep no records) and said they would adopt one of the sacrifices for Terri and encourage others to do so. God bless you all.

*A straight "bread and water fast" is pretty easy for others to spot and might (I say, might) distract from the fasting itself or perhaps confuse others. But with a fast on, say, plain tea and toast, one can pass for just not being especially hungry at the time, yet accomplish essentially the same thing.

Of related interest: A canonical aspect of the Terri Schiavo case

March 31, 2005. Terri M. Schiavo is dead.