Dark Christianity
dark_christian
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May 2008
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It's all about the power of the Christian Right

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]sunfell)

This Salon (day pass or subscription required) article talks about the Christian Right's interference in what should be a private affair:

"This has nothing to do with the sanctity of life"

The Rev. John Paris, professor of bioethics, says Terri Schiavo has the moral and legal right to die, and only the Christian right is keeping her alive.

***

So what do you think this case is really about?

The power of the Christian right. This case has nothing to do with the legal issues involving a feeding tube. The feeding tube issue was definitively resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1990 in Cruzan vs. Director. The United States Supreme Court ruled that competent patients have the right to decline any and all unwanted treatment, and unconscious patients have the same right, depending upon the evidentiary standard established by the state. And Florida law says that Terri Schiavo has more than met the standard in this state. So there is no legal issue.

***

As a priest, how do you resolve questions in which the "sanctity of life" is involved?

The sanctity of life? This has nothing to do with the sanctity of life. The Roman Catholic Church has a consistent 400-year-old tradition that I'm sure you are familiar with. It says nobody is obliged to undergo extraordinary means to preserve life.

This is Holy Week, this is when the Catholic community is saying, "We understand that life is not an absolute good and death is not an absolute defeat." The whole story of Easter is about the triumph of eternal life over death. Catholics have never believed that biological life is an end in and of itself. We've been created as a gift from God and are ultimately destined to go back to God. And we've been destined in this life to be involved in relationships. And when the capacity for that life is exhausted, there is no obligation to make officious efforts to sustain it.

This is not new doctrine. Back in 1950, Gerald Kelly, the leading Catholic moral theologian at the time, wrote a marvelous article on the obligation to use artificial means to sustain life. He published it in Theological Studies, the leading Catholic journal. He wrote, "I'm often asked whether you have to use IV feeding to sustain somebody who is in a terminal coma." And he said, "Not only do I believe there is no obligation to do it, I believe that imposing those treatments on that class of patients is wrong. There is no benefit to the patient, there is great expense to the community, and there is enormous tension on the family."


Personally, I think that the Dominionists are totally devoid of compassion in this case. The woman has no quality of life, no hope of recovery, but 'life' is too precious to these people to give it up. That isn't compassionate, it's practically Satanic. But that is the way of this twisted country.

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