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Seattle Catholic
A Journal of Catholic News and Views
8 Mar 2005

Letter to Bishop Robert N. Lynch

In regards to: Statement of Bishop Robert N. Lynch, Bishop of Saint Petersburg, FL, Regarding Mrs. Terri Schiavo

The Most Reverend Robert N. Lynch, Bishop of Saint Petersburg, Florida
P.O. Box 40200
Saint Petersburg, FL 33743-0200

Your Excellency,

I was deeply saddened to read Your Excellency's regretful statement about Terri Schiavo in this week's parish bulletin. I am shocked and mortified that a Roman Catholic Bishop would utter such confusing and ambivalent remarks to the diocese that he is charged to lead. Your Excellency's statement takes absolutely no position on an issue that affects each and every person in this nation, as well as the status of the Roman Catholic Church in the 21st Century.

The very idea that Your Excellency calls this issue "complex and tragic" is most baffling. There is nothing "complex" on the Church's stand on the value and dignity of human life, or on euthanasia. Human life is human life, PERIOD. It does not matter if one is a fetus, crippled, mentally retarded, completely healthy, or in a vegetative state. By refusing to make this distinction or in taking any stand on the potential murder of Mrs. Schiavo, Your Excellency may be indirectly endorsing the moral position of the pro-abortion lobby, pro-euthanasia lobby, and others who embrace the fundamental belief behind eugenics: Some lives are not as worth as much as others. Your Excellency further goes on to reduce the entire issue to a decision "made within a family." The family, while a vital institution, is not impervious to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Abortion can also be a decision "made within a family." Does that yield it precedence over the moral instruction of the Catholic Church? Absolutely not.

While Your Excellency correctly states that the situation is "tragic," the assignment of the adjective is not to the real tragedy. The real tragedy is that Your Excellency, a bishop and leader of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, has refused to take a clear stand on a moral issue regarding the sanctity of human life. The entire diocese is left to figure out for itself, one, what is right and what is wrong, and two, where our bishop and leader stand on this issue. Furthermore, Your Excellency appears to implicitly exculpate complicit judicial and legislative bodies is equally alarming. By placing the burden squarely on the shoulders of Michael Schiavo, Your Excellence seems to have given pulpit endorsed exoneration of politicians and judges who not only support Mr. Schiavo in his quest to kill his wife, but of euthanasia in general. This is absolutely inconsistent with the teachings of the Magisterium of the Holy Catholic Church. The question that immediately comes to my mind is where does Your Excellency stand on abortion? If you apply the same logic to that argument, an abortion is the sole responsibility of a mother, and not of the complicit doctors, politicians, and judges who comply and permit. It seems to me that there is absolutely no difference when discussing the morality of these two issues.

Lastly, Your Excellency alludes to the "best result for Terri." Well, what is it? What will it be for Terri that will yield her "best result?" Will it be life for Terri, or death? This is the question that I, as well as many other Roman Catholics, had hoped would be easily answered by a bishop of the Church. It seems to me that this question, left unanswered by a Roman Catholic bishop, will yield the same confusion and chaos that has afflicted our Holy Church over the past forty years. During this time, we have seen an unprecedented assault on the very existence of the Church that was put on this Earth by Christ Himself. Our immemorial traditions have all but vanished, our seminaries are virtually empty, our unity is dwindling, and the overwhelming majority of Catholics do not draw distinctions between right and wrong. It does not help us when the leaders of the Church in the Episcopacy will not do the same.

I implore Your Excellency to revisit your statement, and separate yourself from the consensus thought of the other Florida bishops who have concurred in not taking a clear and forceful stand for the teachings of the Holy Roman Catholic Church in the case of the life of Terri Schiavo.

I Remain, Yours Faithfully in Christ,
Mark Joseph Patrick. McGrath
Tampa, Florida

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