“To the House of the Father”

Life is an adventure with many possible paths. Some lead to fame, some to glory, others to ordinary lives, but, in spite of our positions in this world, all paths lead to death. Lately, however, certain events have changed the way we, the people, perceive life and death.

The deaths of both Terri Schiavo on March 31, 2005, and Pope John Paul II on April 2, 2005, just two days later, offer two very different views on this greatly controversial topic, with the former representing a view of life to be ended if circumstances become too intense and the latter representing the view of life as a gift from a Creator to be taken away by that Creator at a given time. There’s so much we can learn on how we live and die in America by noting the juxtaposition of these two deaths.
Terri Schiavo as she lies in a Permanent Vegetative State (PVS) (Courtesy of BBC News)

It’s hard to believe that a brain damaged woman could create such a social and political firestorm, yet the death of Terri Schiavo created an enormous controversy. Since the only thing keeping her alive during her 15year coma was the inserted feeding tube, the judicial system allowed her husband to remove her means

of substance -- an act of mercy to many, an act of murder to others ("Terri Schiavo"). Eventually, politicians got involved, and the case went all the way up to President George W. Bush and the U.S. Supreme Court. When Terri’s parents were denied their case by the Supreme Court, they acknowledged that all their legal options had been used. In the end, Terri’s family watched her endure an amazing 13 days without food ("Terri Schiavo"). However, the question is not dealing with the late Mrs. Schiavo, but with the ethics of euthanasia and “dying with dignity.” Supporters of the removal of feeding tubes argue that if the

person has significant brain damage, then that person cannot feel pain. However, many critics of this barbaric method reply that the afflicted person does indeed feel intense hunger pains (This can be seen in the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision in the Brophy case of 1986.) ("Terri Schiavo"). Personally, I find it atrocious that if somebody treated a dog in this fashion, they would be almost immediately jailed. Even death row convicts are afforded a quick and painless death, yet the law forces braindamaged persons endure the agony of starvation, a death that can take up to two weeks to be effective. Nevertheless, families all across

our great nation every single day choose this method to “cure” their “loved ones.”

opponent of euthanasia, who was well-known for his belief in the fact that the elderly and the infirm can have meaningful lives, the Pontiff had been suffering for years due to the attempt on his life and Parkinson’s disease. In fact, up until, and even after, his death, he was a shining example of living a meaningful life: After being hospitalized for a period (a

The body of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II being transported to St. Peter’s Basilica to lie in repose. (Courtesy of the San Diego Union Tribune)

hospitalization that ended with a tracheotomy), he still refused to resign from the papacy ("Pope John Paul II"). When fever struck him, the Holy Father had medical equipment and consultants placed in his apartment located in Vatican City, leading many to believe that

The tragic irony of this event lies not in the battle between Terri’s “loving” husband and her caring family, but in the death of Pope John Paul II. A longtime

the Pope had chosen to die a natural death (a fact confirmed soon after by the Vatican). Two days later, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church cried out, “Let me go to the house of the Father.” and breathed his last ("Pope John Paul II"). Some people have wondered, “What is the difference between the death of Terri Schiavo and John Paul II? They both died due to the rejection of life support.” That’s true, yet John Paul II’s decision was made by a person who was in full mental capacity and was able to make that choice. When Mrs. Schiavo became incapacitated, she had no legally valid living will, leaving

her well-being in the hands of her husband, Michael. Despite your opinions on the difficult topic of “mercy killing,” we all want to know that our final wishes are done, whether they are to live in a permanent vegetative state or to die before a permanent vegetative state is possible. In this land of the free and home of the brave, do we have the right to determine who lives and who dies? Do we have that freedom? What can we do with people who do not have living wills ready? What should we do with the souls crying “Let me go to the house of the Father.”?

Gregory Marc Bentley January 4, 2007

Source Page:
BBC News. US Brain-Damage Woman Gets Fluids. “Photo of Terri Schiavo”. 13 Jan 2007 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3212504.stm>

“Pope John Paul II." Wikipedia. 4 Jan 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Paul_II.>

San Diego Union Tribune. The World Mourns Pope John Paul II Photo Gallery “Photo of John Paul II”. 13 Jan 2007 <http://photos.signonsandiego.com/gallery1.5/slideshow.php?set_albumName=po pe-john-paul>

"Terri Schiavo." Wikipedia. 4 Jan 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terri_Schiavo>.