My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at and I have a Facebook page.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Reflection on Terri Schiavo's Death

A Reflection on Terri Schiavo's Death
by Ray Grosswirth, M.A., M.Div

When the news of Terri Schiavo's death was announced on March 31, I found that my feelings fluctuated between those of relief and sadness. On one hand, I am relieved the media circus and political wrangling are over; on the other hand, I am saddened over the family struggle that permeated the 15-year debate over Terri's well-being.

Whatever one's feeling were throughout this long ordeal, I pray there will be reconciliation between opposing sides during this period of mourning. At the very least, we should pray there is no violence from radical elements within the religious right.

Having witnessed Terri's ordeal play out on our television screens the past few weeks, I can't emphasize enough how important it is to articulate one's health-care wishes in writing. It appears that Terri Schiavo indicated verbally to her husband that she did not want to be kept alive by extraordinary means if she were in a vegetative state. However, because her wishes were never formalized via either a health care proxy or living will, the result was a family feud in which Mrs. Schiavo became a political pawn, whereby the religious right argued for her life and others argued for her right to die with dignity.

I find that I can't sit in criticism of either Terri Schiavo's parents or husband. My position has always been, and continues to be, that we can't honestly judge a life and death health-related situation unless we are actually involved in the decision ourselves. Obviously, there was strong love between Terri and her husband, just as there was strong love between Terri and her parents.

I am perhaps angry over this case because of the fact that the religious right has placed itself in a position of judgment, whereby they felt it was in Terri Schiavo's best interest to be kept alive via her feeding tube. The question I have is: "Was it in Terri's best interest, or was it in the best interest of the religious right?"

Sadly, the media gave us mixed medical information about Terri Schiavo. Consequently, we did not know the full extent of her brain activity. Her parents told us she was able to recognize them. Her husband stated that she was essentially brain-dead. If there is one blessing in all of this, it is that both sides have agreed to an autopsy, which should help us toward better understanding of the medical parameters of this tragedy.

During the final stages of my graduate theological studies, I served for a year as a chaplain in St. Mary's Hospice in Rochester, New York. I can therefore testify to the compassionate treatment that is given to persons in the final stages of life. I have every reason to believe that Terri Schiavo was treated with the very same compassion and that she died in peace and comfort.

May God's grace touch all who now mourn the passing of Terri Schiavo.


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