Catholic News - Catholic Telecommunications, a devision of Catholic Resources





Police block final communion for dying woman

A priest tried to give final communion last week to a brain-damaged woman whose feeding tube was removed last week, but he was refused entry by police guarding the entrance to the hospice.

Bob and Mary Schindler, the parents of Terri Schiavo, were joined by Monsignor Thaddeus Malinowski when they told officers they wanted to administer the Catholic rite of Viaticum, the last communion for a Catholic before death.

Police at the hospice told the family that the rite would violate a doctor's order that nothing be placed in her mouth, to prevent choking and aspiration.

Malinowski, a retired priest, told the officers that he would use "a small piece of the wafer and dilute it with water before giving it to her. It's a very important part of her faith."

George Felos, an attorney for Michael Schiavo, Terri Schiavo's husband, said Malinowski ad ministered "spiritual communion" commonly given to patients who are unable to receive the host by mouth. Feedings have been keeping Terri Schiavo alive since 1990, when she suffered brain damage after a heart attack. Doctors say she is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery, but her parents believe she has mental abilities and can be rehabilitated.

Two state courts rejected attempts by the parents Friday to have the feeding tube reinserted.

Terri Schiavo is expected to live one to two weeks without food. She was 26 when a potassium imbalance stopped her heart. She went for 10 minutes without oxygen and was left severely brain-damaged.

Plain Dealer/Associated Press

Comatose Woman Is Denied Communion (Zenit)
However Hard, Terri Schiavo Has to Be Let Go (Newsday)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation

21 Oct 2003