Fr. Cekada and the Terri Schiavo case
QuisUtDeus Wrote:The Schiavo thing is well-documented and one can read about it in a bunch of places and discern their opinion directly.  I think Fr. C still has his original document posted.  It should be noted that while I disagree with Father's conclusions, what he has done is make a formal theological argument  - he's not just shooting off at the mouth some random opinion or posting nonsense on a forum.  It needs to be viewed in that light.  If someone wants to discuss that on the forum, it's fine with me, but leave ad hominems and cries of "unCatholic" out of it; make a theological argument.  We shouldn't rail against priests like we rail against politicians.  Sorry, but I'm old fashioned that way when it comes to priests.

Fr. Cekada’s “theological” analysis amounts to a very simple one. Extraordinary means are not required while Ordinary means are required. Everybody agrees with this.

The question in the Schiavo case is a question of fact. Was withholding all food and water from this particular person merely a question of rejecting extraordinary means? Nobody I'm aware of has agreed with Fr. Cekada’s application in this particular case. Even Bishop Sanborn, who Fr. Cekada quotes as agreeing with him, apparently retreated from that position when he was informed that a priest had given Mrs. Schiavo communion and she was able to receive. I believe his words were something like “That changes everything.” 
Where's the original discussion, so I can see what it is about.
It was blocked because the thread had began to get a little ugly.
Then how can we participate? Or even know what the OP is saying?
Fr. Cekadas initial article on the subject Wrote:The Terri Schiavo Case and Extraordinary Means
by Father Anthony Cekada

I HAVE BEEN repeatedly asked for my thoughts on the Terri Schiavo case. Here, for the record, is a brief summary of my opinion.

Many traditional and "conservative" Catholics were misled by unprincipled politicians and pseudo-conservative talk-show hosts into thinking of it as a pro-life or anti-euthanasia case.

It was no such thing and this demonstrates how wary one should be of turning for moral guidance to the advertiser-shilling blowhards of Fox News and the EIB Network.

Instead as Catholics we must turn to the teaching of theologians and the magisterium.

Here, the key issue is preserving a life by "extraordinary means," a concept first developed by the 16th-century Dominican theologian Vittoria as follows:

"If a sick man can take food or nourishment with a certain hope of life, he is required to take food as he would be required to give it to one who is sick. However, if the depression of spirits is so severe and there is present grave consternation in the appetitive power so that only with the greatest effort and as though through torture can the sick man take food, this is to be reckoned as an impossibility and therefore, he is excused, at least from mortal sin. "

"It is one thing not to protect life and it is another not to destroy it. One is not held to protect his life as much as he can. Thus one is not held to use foods which are the best or most expensive even though those foods are the most healthful. Just as one is not held to live in the most healthful place, neither must one use the most healthful foods. If one uses food which men commonly use and in quantity which customarily suffices for the preservation of strength, even though one's life is shortened considerably, one would not sin. One is not held to employ all means to conserve life, but it is sufficient to employ the means which are intended for this purpose and which are congruous. "

Other theologians subsequently refined and developed this teaching, until in 1957, we find Pope Pius XII explaining its application as follows:

"Normally [when prolonging life] one is held to use only ordinary means according to the circumstances of persons, places, times and cultures -- that is to say, means that do not involve any grave burdens for oneself or another. A more strict obligation would be too burdensome for most people and would render the attainment of a higher, more important good too difficult. Life, health, all temporal activities are in fact subordinated to spiritual ends. On the other hand, one is not forbidden to take more than the strictly necessary steps to preserve life and health, as long as he does not fail in some more serious duty."

These and similar passages in other authors led me to conclude that in the case of Terri Schiavo, the feeding tube, etc. constituted extraordinary means.

(Consider the "grave burdens" that such means would increasingly impose on society, now that medical science can keep the dying and unconscious going for years.)

This was also the conclusion of Bishop Donald Sanborn, who teaches moral theology  the branch of theology that deals with ascertaining whether specific human acts are morally good or morally evil.

Accordingly, as regards applying the principles of Catholic moral theology: (1) One could have continued to employ these extraordinary means to maintain Terri Schiavo's life; however (2) one would not have been obliged to do so.

It is false therefore to claim that Terri Schiavo was the victim of "euthanasia" or "murder."

Further, in my opinion, Mrs. Schiavo's husband (as horrible a person as he seems to be)  and not her parents had the sole right before God to determine whether these means should have continued to be used.

My comments here, like those on the Iraq War, may cause consternation for some good lay people. But when it comes to contemporary issues, my duty as a priest is to research the Church's teaching, tell you what it is, and tell you how to apply it.

May Terri Schiavo rest in peace.

In April of 2005, Rev. Cekada's article was printed in The Remnant as a letter. The appearance of the letter evidently provoked a hefty negative reaction. Soon thereafter Rev. Cekada sent to The Remnant a follow-up article. Here is the text of that article:

Quote:Rev. Cekada’s Follow-Up Letter to in The Remnant: May of 2005

To the Editor,

My letter on the Terri Schiavo case that appeared in your previous issue was widely circulated and prompted many comments from traditionalists nearly all negative and emotional. Most objections were rooted in misconceptions about extraordinary means, or in a disgust with the actions of Terri Schiavo's husband. I’d appreciate the opportunity to expand upon both these points, and then add a more general observation.

1. EXTRAORDINARY MEANS. The resolution of the moral issue in the case hinges upon the definition of the term "extraordinary" - not as the term is defined by medical science, but rather as it is defined by moral theologians. Pius XII's statement defines extraordinary means as those which "involve any grave burdens for oneself or another."

The emphasis, then, is not on the specific procedure that is performed, but rather upon the burden that results from performing it.

Moral theologians categorize as extraordinary those treatments that are physically painful, invasive, repulsive, emotionally disturbing, dangerous, rarely successful, expensive, etc.

Nowadays the latter burden - extraordinary expense - is mostly hidden, because ''someone else pays for it- i.e., you and I and everyone else foot the bills through health insurance premiums, doctor malpractice premiums and high taxes.

This is now a grave burden on society. If someone wants to make every effort to sustain life for as long as possible in a body that is obviously shutting down for good, he is free to pay for extraordinary means himself but it is wrong for him to impose this burden on everyone else.

Had Terri Schiavo not received a $750,000 malpractice settlement - i.e. some trial lawyers shook down an insurance company, which in turn calculated that it would be cheaper to pay them and the Schiavos off, rather than gamble with the Oprah-watching idiots in the average jury pool- you can bet that her husband and parents would not have sold off their own houses to sustain her for all this time.

Instead, you and I- not merely the Schiavos or the Schindlers - got stuck with the "grave burden" of paying for it. If something is immoral in the whole affair, it is surely this.


Mrs. Schiavo’s husband (as horrible a person as he seems to be) - and not her parents - had the right before God to determine whether these means should have continued to be used. A husband does not somehow automatically lose his headship of the household or his God-given "domestic and paternal authority" if he becomes a moral reprobate.

An ecclesiastical or civil court may for a grave reason, of course, prevent him from exercising his authority.

In the Schiavo case, however, the civil courts examined the matter and repeatedly reaffirmed Mr. Schiavo's rights.

The alternative to this is what? Allow in-laws automatic headship over the wife when they believe the husband is a "moral reprobate"? Have those paragons of family values – congressmen legislate the rules? Assign headship of the wife to the relative deemed most worthy by the majority of members of an Internet chat room?

Even a wicked husband retains certain rights before God.


The negative response to both these points was almost without exception based on emotion. This I find very disturbing - because the first reaction a Catholic –lay or clerical- should have when confronted with a complex moral or theological problem is to find the principle that applies - what, in other words, is the standard the Church (not my emotions, directed by Michael Savage) uses to separate virtue from sin, or truth from error, on any particular issue.
In most cases, the right principle and the correct definition of its terms can be found in a theology book somewhere, even though it may take some time and priest with good Latin to find it.

The tendency of so many traditionalists to resolve moral or theological questions - be it the Schiavo case, the Indult, excommunications, schism, heresy, the Fatima  consecration, the sede vacante dispute, etc. – by following emotional reactions, rather than by seeking out an objective principle that the Church has laid down, makes them ripe for deception by the ignorant and manipulation by the cynical.

The reactions of so many in the Schiavo case make me fear that when it comes to deceiving the elect, the Antichrist won't have to work too hard.

Well, is it permissable to allow someone to slowly starve and dehydrate to death with nothing (heavy pain medication) to prevent him or her from suffering this fate?
Fr. Cekada Wrote:This is now a grave burden on society. If someone wants to make every effort to sustain life for as long as possible in a body that is obviously shutting down for good, he is free to pay for extraordinary means himself but it is wrong for him to impose this burden on everyone else.

In the Schiavo case, this isn't the case at all. He is simply wrong here, yet has never retracted it.

Here is a well documented article on the subject, written prior to the Schiavo case, by Fr. Iscara, SSPX.
I have to disagree with Rev. Cekada. I saw interviews with one of Terry Schiavo's nurses and one of her health aides. Both said they had given her puddings as well as juices and she swallowed them with no problem. I don't believe it was ever a question of her inability to eat. The media completely distorted the issue.
Moreover, a recent ruling of the CDF states unequivocally that feeding tubes are not extraordinary means:

That's good enough for me.

This topic was talked about in leangth on the other forum.  It was ridiculous then as it is ridiculous now...she's dead, we have our opinions.  I was not on the ground and never saw Terri S.  I'm inclined to think letting her starve was wrong because I do not know if she was a complete veg...but she may have opinion at the time was that she was not and that the husband had possibly attempted murder and failed...and allowing her to die would have been in his interest if she was not a complete veg.

Be that as it may.  I have seen since then several people who are complete vegs that should not be kept going but they are, it is in fact abuse to keep them alive as far as I am concerned.  Often it is because there is a pention check or something involved....although it's not really important if there is or is not.

Beside one has to wonder at what point with a veg, tube feeds and IVs are extrodinary measures...because there has to be a point at which they are....heck a case could be made that they always are...although I would tend to disagree with it.

Edit by Quis - topic cleanup

 Maybe he's wrong, maybe he's right, it really does not matter any longer.

The fact seems to be that if Terri was a complete veg then he is right more or less, if she was not a veg, and I recall at the time it was reported that she did not want the tube pulled, then really she should have been making her medical decisions and pulling the tube would habe been wrong

But as stated above, I was not on the ground....and I don't think any of you were there either.  From the reports at the time it could have been construed both ways...some press calling her a veg, other press claiming she could almost talk....who was telling the truth?  I leaned to the "she could almost talk" side of things, as it seems most here and responding to the Remnant did.  Fr. C chose the other reports as the base line, unless he was actually there...

Heck, Rev. Jackson was there...and he was on my side.....made me proud to have pulled the lever for him as presidential primaries in VA back in '88 as an attempt to mess up the Dem's convention.

Isn't odd that we are siding with Rev Jackson on this!?  I still do ...assuming she could make decisions....but who here REALLY knows if she could...the question is WHERE YOU THERE....

I think if it could be shown that Terri actually was not a veg and wanted to live that Fr. C would be saying that she should not have been unplugged....but who knows

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