Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Bishop Lynch Won't Comment on Cardinal's Statement,

Issues Statement Calling Terri's Case a "Sad Situation"

Last week, Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, issued a statement saying that if Michael succeeded in removing Terri's feeding tube, it would be "tragic in itself", and "a serious step toward legally approving euthanasia in the United States."

When reporters from the Tampa - St. Petersburg area contacted Bishop Robert Lynch for his response, Bishop Lynch "could not be reached for comment".

I wonder, if they had contacted him regarding his Annual Pastoral Appeal, would he have been "available for comment" then?

But, not to worry, on Monday Bishop Lynch issued a statement in which he recognized that the Schindlers feel "they are outside of the decision-making process" and that "they are in great pain and suffering mightily."

So Bishop Lynch feels the Schindlers' pain.

He devotes most of the statement to urging "both sides" to "allow some mediation" so that Terri's legacy is "a heroic moment of concern for the feelings of each other, guided by moral and ethical considerations, with a single focus of achieving the best result for Terri."

The most charitable thing I can say about this statement is that it is utterly inadequate.

Bishop Lynch refers to normal "end-of-life" cases, where families know that "they have done all they possibly might to provide alternatives to death", and have attempted "every possible treatment protocol which might be helpful". But nowhere does he give a clue that he recognizes that such has not been done in Terri's case. Heck, Terri hasn't even had the proper diagnostic procedures most neurologists consider standard for someone with a brain injury.

Furthermore, by going back to his talk of "decisions made within families", and of "both sides" coming together, Bishop Lynch shows that he still views Terri's situation, as Bob Schindler told me for my Catholic World Report piece, as a family dispute, and not as a grave injustice being perpetrated on one of his flock.

Bishop Lynch, it would seem, doesn't get it.

Bishop Lynch could mobilize the faithful of his diocese. He could encourage his priests to speak out and preach about it. Instead, the priests of his diocese have been largely invisible (as has he). Bishop Lynch, why have the priests of your diocese been so silent? Why have they been so lamentably uninvolved in the efforts to save Terri's life?

Bsihop Lynch could give a bold and clear witness to the sanctity of life. He could stand up for the rights of those whom our world sees as "useless eaters". He could send a message to the "right-to-die" crowd that the elderly and disabled of Florida are "off limits".

He has done none of those things. Last year, when I wrote my CWR article, I interviewed the Pro-Life Director of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Deacon Joseph Grote (he at least would talk to me, unlike Bishop Lynch). I asked him if he or the diocese had any events or activities planned with regard to the Terri Schiavo case. He said no, he wasn't aware of any such plans.

Not much has changed since last year.

Once again, the faithful are on their own.