Thinking Catholics Respond

By Diogenes (articles ) | Mar 24, 2005

A prominent Jesuit bioethicist argues the attempt to interrupt Terri Schiavo's dehydration is a Republican power play.

Salon: So what do you think this case is really about?

Rev. John Paris, S.J.: 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.

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  • Posted by: Sterling - Mar. 26, 2005 9:25 AM ET USA

    In a previous post, I talked about "pulling the plug" on over-reaching judges. Before the FBI investigates me, let me clarify that I'm talking about pulling the plug on judicial over-reaching. Am I being overly nervous? Hey, they just put a ten-year-old boy in handcufffs and took him away in a police car, for carrying a glass of water towards Terri's hospice.

  • Posted by: Sterling - Mar. 26, 2005 1:37 AM ET USA

    Remember HAL? The soft-spoken computer who makes his move to take over the space ship in 2001: A Space Odyssey? The judiciary is now HAL. It ignores the rightful powers of Congress, and orders innocent citizens to death. There is a drastic, drastic imbalance now, and the courts have become dangerous - like HAL was. Remember what happened to HAL? He had to have his plug pulled. Think of Judge Greer singing dopily, "Daisy, Daisy ..."

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Mar. 25, 2005 6:09 PM ET USA

    Article 2278 of the Catechism allows the cessation of "burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate" medical procedures, but only if one does not "will to cause death." But that's exactly what Michael Schiavo wills, and Fr. Paris knows it. Yet he responds to his questioner not with the voice of the Church he has sworn to serve, but with that of the world, which he serves instead.

  • Posted by: Ignacio177 - Mar. 25, 2005 7:27 AM ET USA

    It is the fault of the superiors. In past ages jesuit obedience, the virtue that Ignacio most prized, was the order's hallmark. Now there is no internal discipline. This does not mean that there are no loyal, orthodox jesuits. It just means that the rebels are never disciplined. The superiors never ask what is for the good of the faithful, they don't want to make waves among the troops.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 25, 2005 12:14 AM ET USA

    Prominent Jesuit Bioethicist means, to me, Prominent Pelagian Heretic unless he has exceptional credentials. Since our future Saint Pelagius is also a legal positivist, who subscribes to a doctrine of juridicial infallibility, I must also assume that Herr Vacudokterr had no problem with the Nazi incinerations during the Holocaust; it was, after all, legal according to German law.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 24, 2005 11:48 PM ET USA

    Latinae, Mr Schiavo's moral stance is untenable, as this is indeed a violation of conflict of interest...Terri Schiavo's statement of preference is indeed hearsay, therefore inadmissable in any court...yet evidence of abuse and injury to the neck is solid, but equally inadmissible in Judge Greer's court. Who is trying to con whom?

  • Posted by: - Mar. 24, 2005 10:15 PM ET USA

    Pat: People water plants and feed animals, but physicians / judges/ adulterous husbands can murder a severely disabled, vulnerable woman by dehydration / starvation. If Fr. Paris cannot definitively state that this is WRONG, then it is indeed scandalous that he is a Jesuit bioethicist. He has an obligation as a priest to promote what the Roman Catholic Church teaches, not what liberal, pseudo-intellectual, secular humanists preach.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Mar. 24, 2005 9:47 PM ET USA

    The job of the courts, and also indirectrly that of the Legislatures, both State and National is not so much as to determine the "right to die" but rather to consider whether Terri Schiavo's husband just maybe, just maybe might happen to be an opportunistic liar. Is this a "right to die" or an alibi for murder? The way things are going, if this is true, that is IF Michael Schiavo has REALLY LIED than he IS as murderer with any number of judges as acessories.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 24, 2005 9:40 PM ET USA

    Why in God's name is it always the Jesuits who are quick to be the whackos? I remember when they were called God's shock troops. Now we call them God's shcking troops. No act too degrading for the good Jesuits. St. Ignatius pray for them!

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Mar. 24, 2005 6:45 PM ET USA

    Ignacio, the e-mail address for Fr. Parris doesn't work. Mailer-Daemon said (appropriately enough) that it had a "permanently fatal error." I wrote to ask him what he supposed St. Peter's reaction would be when he said, "Oh, Terri Schiavo? Sure that was ethical. It met the State of Florida's evidentiary standards." And to ask if Good Friday would a particularly appropriate day for her to die on. But he will never see the e-mail.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Mar. 24, 2005 6:38 PM ET USA

    The best thing I have read on the left's reaction to the Schiavo case is Peggy Noonan's column in today's OpinionJournal, published by the Wall Street Journal. If you have to register, it's free.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Mar. 24, 2005 6:16 PM ET USA

    Leo13: apart from Terri Schiavo, Congress passes hundreds if not thousands of private bills every year. People who can't get relief from bureaucrats or the courts often apply for and get the help of Congress. Most are uncontroversial and not passed in the middle of the night, but the private bill as such is routine. They deal with immigration, claims, and many other things. Not unusual at all.

  • Posted by: Ignacio177 - Mar. 24, 2005 2:04 PM ET USA

    John J. Paris, profesor of bioethics -Walsh Chair- telephone: 617 552-8212 [email protected] - tell em what you think.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 24, 2005 11:21 AM ET USA

    Pat-by virtue of the fact that he's a priest and a bioethicist he's defacto speaking for the Church as far as most americans are concerned and that is truly a scandal. Can you imagine how it would be perceived and the resulting negative effect on the military as a whole if a General on active duty publicly bad mouthed the President or the war in Iraq?

  • Posted by: - Mar. 24, 2005 11:07 AM ET USA

    If ethics were the same as the civil law, it would be redundant. So why does an ethicist argue from the civil law? And what does ethics say about M. Schiavo (the only one who really wants the tube removed), now and for the last several years a common law bigamist, having the only say about when/whether the tube should be removed from his other wife? Does ethics have anything to say about conflict of interest?

  • Posted by: - Mar. 24, 2005 11:02 AM ET USA

    My understanding is that Rev. John Paris S.J. did not pretend to speak for the Church.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 24, 2005 10:51 AM ET USA

    Courtacum locuta est huh? It's not a legal issue Johnny! Natural Law is obviously not his area of expertise. I can't help but to compare Greer to Haney and Terri to Dred Scott. Using the logic of John Paris & the infallibility of the Supreme court, the US should have never pursued slavery beyond Dred Scott. I'm sure he feels the same way about Roe vs Wade. I'm no lawyer but much of what Terri "may" have said is hearsay so I hardly think that the evidentiary standard was reached.

  • Posted by: Eleazar - Mar. 24, 2005 10:48 AM ET USA

    I can hardly wait to see what Christ does with his namesake fraternity.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 24, 2005 10:15 AM ET USA

    Hard cases make bad law. To that I would add, . . . and bad precedents. One can side with Terri and still question the long-range implications of special acts of Congress focused on one person. I think it is an issue of state's rights --- under our Constitutional system of limited powers, should Congress intrude into an area traditionally occupied by the states? Florida law is flawed and needs to be reformed. The precedent set by Congress will come back to haunt the Republican party.