I am deeply saddened by the passing of Terri Schiavo this morning.  Her loss is truly a sad day for all America and the world.  Our hearts are heavy as we witnessed Terri’s ordeal as her feeding tube was withdrawn two weeks ago, inducing her agonizing death.  Our prayers go out to her parents Bob and Mary, Michael, her husband, her family and close friends. 

I spoke to the Mr. and Mrs. Schindler yesterday and told them, “Fate has dealt you a blow, but faith in God and love will see you through.  Be prepared for her to live or die, but take comfort in knowing that you have done your best.  You may lose a daughter, but thank God for what you have left.  Don’t get bitter, get better.”  When it is real dark, faith is our beacon of light.  Job said, “my worst fears have come upon me,” but he also said, “yet will I trust God.”

Terri is not only a victim of a prolonged illness, but also an irreconcilable and bitter family feud which threw her guardianship and treatment into a legal debate. 

Terri’s saga of 15 years has come to an end.  Her health care workers at the hospice cared for her with grace and love under the most difficult of circumstances.  And now her personal journey has forced the nation to confront fundamental personal, ethical and legal issues that transcend politics and religion.  Perhaps Terri’s legacy is a call for family reconciliation.  Perhaps hers is a call for all of us to document our personal life choices in living wills.  Perhaps hers is a call to America’s conscience to provide universal health care and a quality, well-funded Medical and Medicaid program.  Preserving the sanctity of marriage does not preclude the validity of other family and personal relationships.  Perhaps hers is a call to preserve the options for seriously injured persons to make medical malpractice and civil tort claims.  Perhaps hers is a call to examine the appropriate role of the courts and government.

Terri’s journey brings into sharp focus the need for long term health care to meet needs of all Americans, especially the elderly and disabled.  And ironically, the issue of quality medical care is now accentuated by the fact that our beloved Pope is now on a feeding device.  We often learn from examples and parables. The ordeal of Terri strangely forced us to grapple with these questions.  Her life has been good for the healing of the nation. 

May God bless Terri as she rests in peace.